One hot trend you may have heard about before is the standing desk. These are becoming increasingly popular among those who work at office jobs in particular as the long hours of sitting can really take a toll on overall health.
Research published in the Diabetes journal has noted that when indiviudals experience prolonged inactivity, it can actually initiate a particular cellular process that can lead to metabolic changes linked to a higher overall risk factor for a number of diseases.
When most people think of the health risks of sitting too much, they tend to have thoughts of weight gain and all its associated negatives. But really, it’s much more than that. Heart disease, high blood pressure levels, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are all closely associated with prolonged inactivity.
Enter the standing desk. While you aren’t moving a lot, it’s considerably better than sitting.
Let’s look at why the standing desk is good for not only your health, but your abs as well.
Increased Core Muscle Activation
When you’re in the seated position, your entire core can essentially relax. Your body is being supported by the seat and if you happen to have a nice chair with an excellent supportive back rest, as most people working office jobs do, you reduce the need for your back muscles to be engaged to support you as well.
What does this all translate to? Lazy muscles. You get very little core activation when seated, however when you are standing, you remove those support systems. Now you are forced into contracting not only the abs, but all the muscles running up and down your spinal column as well.
While these muscles may not be contracting as hard as they would if you were doing a set of sit-ups for example, they’re still maintaining a low level of contraction in effort to keep your body balanced.
Over time, this can make a big difference in the strength level you maintain.
Enhanced Calorie Burn
Another great benefit to the standing desk is improved calorie burn. Again, you aren’t going to burn as many calories as you would at a walking desk say, but standing still burns more calories than sitting.
The average 75 kg individual will burn around 40 calories more per hour standing than they will if they were sitting. Now 40 calories may not seem like much, but consider if you do this for just 5 hours per day (so a total increase of 200 calories per day), this will add up to around 4000 calories per month or one pound of body fat worth.
By standing for half your day, you could virtually lose one pound extra body fat per month if all other things were held constant. It’s a great way to help prevent the slow and steady gain that most people experience over the years.
Reduced Weakness Of The Lower Body And Core Musculature
Finally, one last major benefit of the standing desk is that because you are forced to stabilise yourself, the hip flexors and hamstrings will not become as loose and stretched out as they would if you were sitting all day.
Weak hamstring muscles are a big problem in many office workers and one of the leading causes of lower back pain. By standing, you’ll help offset this.
Getting Started With Your Standing Desk Today
So how can you get started with a standing desk right away? Apart from purchasing a desk that has this capability, you’ll want to focus on slowly building up your standing time. Don’t try and stand for 5 hours right off the start or you’ll be incredibly sore the next day.
Start by alternating 30 minutes of standing with an hour or two of sitting. Do this until you feel comfortable and need to remind yourself to sit when your time is up. Then increase your standing time duration from there.
Soon, you might just find you can stand the entire day if you wish. Just remember, if you are standing for great lengths of time, you’ll want to ensure that you keep your spinal column in proper alignment by pulling up the hips and squeezing the abs. This will help ensure that you are not suffering from a sway back, which could put you at risk for lower back pain.
And, be sure that you wear proper footwear as well. Don’t stand in heels! You want cushioned running shoes that can support your body for a great length of time, if at all practical.
So don’t overlook the benefits of a standing desk. If you work in an office position, it can be one of the best things you do for your health and core muscles.
Hamilton, Marc T., Deborah G. Hamilton, and Theodore W. Zderic. “Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.” Diabetes 56.11 (2007): 2655-2667.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.