Office Potatoes: Standing Can Burn Calories, Improve Health

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Do you ever feel like your office chair has become an appendage rather than just a place to sit? What if you found out that appendage could put your health at risk? Recent studies have found that people who sit for eight hours or more a day are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, chronic back problems, obesity, and heart disease. What can you do to prevent chair potato syndrome? Stand up for health.

sitting at desk backacheAccording to registered dietician Denise Reynolds, people who spend more time standing at work tend to be healthier than those who sit. “Periods of standing throughout the day can improve circulation, muscle tone, and vitality,” Reynolds wrote in EMaxHealth website in April. “Standing for just two hours during an average workday can burn an extra 280 calories. In one year, that could potentially provide a weight loss of around 20 pounds.”

Leaving your chair may also promote greater productivity, focus, and give you new ideas. Standing increases blood flow to the brain and thus improves concentration.   Start by using large books or boxes to provide a raised surface area to allow you to stand while you type, read, or write. If you are encouraged by the results you may want to invest in a stand-up desk or adjustable desk that allows you to change the height of your work area throughout the day. But these are pricey, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and may not be realistic or designed for most cubicle office environments.

treadmill deskIn the meantime, make use of what’s available for breaks from your chair environment. Novelist Philip Roth uses a lectern as a desk. Try some boxes to raise the surface of an empty conference room table. Or just take frequent breaks. Set cell phone and calendar reminders to get up and move around for at least 5-10 minutes of each hour you sit.

If you get hooked, you can always save up for the TrekDesk Treadmill Desk, a treadmill outfitted with a desktop so you can walk while you work.

- Pia Hinckle

Comments (1)

  • anon
    Daneen (not verified)

    I've been reading a lot about sitting disease and it's great to see the message about moving and standing more getting out there!

    In the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention II study, it found that women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day. And men were 18 percent more likely to die. I'm a woman. This study is alarming.

    Corporations have to wake up and take a stand and bring this element of moving, walking, standing into the workplace.

    I'm lucky that I am able to use a WorkFit sit-stand workstation and am standing 5 hours out of my work day. It makes a difference on productivity and my energy levels. When standing, I find myself walking to other's desks to answer an email instead of sending an email. I'm a walker/runner that logs 10-12 miles a week, so knowing that I need to be doing more than this activity, just standing makes a lot of sense!

    Here's a website to get more information about standing.

    Thanks for moving more and standing up!!

    Nov 09, 2010


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