As someone who sits through the average nine-to-five workday in front of a computer, I frequently need to combat the back pain associated with “tech neck” and stiffness in my legs. On a Friday afternoon, I decided to research standing desks, thinking if I found enough benefits to the recent desk-craze, I could justify a splurge in the name of work-health balance.
As it turns out, the concept behind standing desks may be based on marketing and little scientific research.
In October of last year, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a study comparing 7,000 people over a 12-year period who either sat or stood at work for long hours of the day. This study concluded that people who stood for long periods of their day had a greater risk for heart disease. Not only that, but people who stand for long periods also experience foot and ankle swelling, as well as more spine pain.
Since the standing desk may not be the answer to all your office-related health problems, here are five ways you can find work-wellness balance to experience the physical and emotional benefits.
Walk for Five Minutes for Each Hour of Sitting
The difference between sitting and standing all day isn’t much, and research shows standing only burns eight more calories per hour than sitting. However, the same study found that walking for five minutes per hour during the workday burns an extra 100 calories, improves mood and reduces food cravings.
Stock Your Desk with Healthy Snacks
Keep dried fruits and healthy snacks in one of your desk drawers so when you are craving a snack, you have healthy options that you’re likely to eat. Though fruits usually have a lot of sugar, it’ll still be less than most office snacking options.
Practice Safe Computer-ing
Staring at a computer can strain your eyes and lead to headaches, sleep problems, neck strain and a myriad of other issues. If you’re suffering from eye strain or headaches throughout the day, try a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. If you’re suffering from back, arm or wrist pain, try adjusting your computer. The top of your computer should line up with your eyes, and your desk/keyboard should land just below your elbows.
Decorate Your Desk
Decorating your desk has proved to reduce stress and anxiety and improve focus. The most effective ways to improve your work space are adding color, organizational elements, plants, and pictures or memories that bring you joy.
A study in the journal Science found that people adapt and change habits more effectively when done in group settings of people with similar traits. Finding coworkers with similar goals who are currently in a similar position could go a long way for your new healthy habit building. However, relying on people who are much more advanced or have vastly different current lifestyles is not nearly as effective.