15 Benefits of Standing While Working vs Sitting

It is common in offices to see employees sitting at their desks while working. However, studies have shown that sitting all day while working can be harmful to your health.

Too much sitting at work and having a sedentary lifestyle contributes to around three million preventable deaths worldwide every year or six percent of all deaths. It is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases.

You may be wondering if it is really worth changing your workstyle from sitting to standing. This may be the answer.

In this article, I will be sharing 15 benefits to standing while working instead of sitting all day at your desk. 

1. You feel more powerful.

Standing is associated with higher status and more power. When an important person enters a room, everybody stands to show respect. 

There’s more power in a standing ovation than when people applaud while they are sitting, although, in both instances, you are receiving applause.

In the same way, when you work while standing, you feel more capable and more energized. 

I used to sit all the time while working. There were times when I had so many tasks to do that I would get easily overwhelmed. However, when I started to work while standing, I felt that I could do more even if my workload doubled. I felt more powerful and in control of my work life.

2. Standing at your desk increases productivity.

Standing increases productivity by allowing you to focus more on completing your task than when you are sitting. You feel a greater sense of urgency to finish your work when you are standing.

Coupled with the Pomodoro technique, you can achieve more by standing while doing tasks that take you longer and sitting while doing tasks that take you less time to do.

Scheduling sitting and standing tasks alternately will ensure that you don’t get tired from standing too long and avoid the urge to sit longer than necessary.

Another way to increase productivity is to stand during your meetings. Standing while working encourages creativity and improves collaboration. 

3. Standing encourages you to be more active and walk around more. After all, you are already standing.

You are more tuned in to your body when you are standing. It is natural to move around when you are standing. After standing for a while, it is easier to walk around or get a drink of water. This video emphasizes this point more:

Since sitting down is a more comfortable position compared to standing up, you won’t feel this urgent need to move and walk around when you have been sitting for a long time.

I would get so caught up in my work when I was sitting while working. I would get sore muscles from sitting too long when the day was over.

However, since I started standing more while working, walking around to refresh my mind became almost second nature in my work routine. Instead of sitting and staring at my computer to come up with ideas for my writing, I would raise my arms, move my head and walk. Ideas flowed more easily and I spent more time actually writing than brooding over what content to write.

4. Working at a standing desk boosts your self-confidence.

As you become more productive, you feel like you are able to accomplish more. Also, when you are intentionally taking action to stay physically active while working, you feel a boost of self-confidence. 

Studies have been made by numerous top academic institutions, including Harvard and Columbia universities, to determine the connection between bad posture and the brain. Results show that improving posture by standing up straight can improve the brain’s function, which in turn improves your mood and memory levels.

Researchers found that when you stand straight and tall — an uplifted posture — your decision-making is subconsciously affected. 

When you stand taller and pull your shoulders back and outward, your brain senses that it’s the confident, powerful you in charge of your thinking which in turn, increases the probability of making more confident choices.

Standing desk for office - Standing up increases confidence

When I was sitting all the time while working, I used to second-guess myself often. I had the tendency to slouch when sitting too long and this affected my thinking. When I started to stand while working I noticed a shift in my thinking pattern. I felt more confident and in control.

5. You can lose a little weight each year.

It has been found that even with exercise, spending a large amount of time sitting puts one at risk of health problems such as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself, but a collection of risk factors that often occur together, such as having excess fat in and around the abdomen, raised blood pressure and high blood triglycerides, among others.

Standing while working can help you to lose weight and reduce the risk of having metabolic syndrome. Also, as you lose weight, you are self-encouraged to lose even more. 

Standing burns an extra 8 calories per hour compared to sitting. That means 320 calories per week or about 5 pounds of fat in a year.

When coupled with a low-calorie diet, standing while working can help you lose weight and keep it off.

6. Working at a stand-up desk increases energy levels.

Standing while working and occasionally moving around increases your energy levels, because it improves blood flow and brain activity. 

Prominent global companies including Google, Facebook, and Exxon provide standing desks to their employees, not just because they’re concerned about their employees’ health, but because they also know that standing boosts energy which in turn, improves performance.

7. Standing while working improves your mood.

A study from San Francisco State University has shown that when we stand upright, we’re more likely to think positive thoughts. This is because our brain responds to our body’s movements in the same way that our body’s movements reflect our moods. 

We’re used to thinking that it was a one-way street: our moods dictate how our body moves. However, research shows that the opposite is also true: the way we act or move can affect the way we feel.

8. Standing while working lowers your stress levels.

Standing and moving around can provide immediate stress relief. Individuals who tend to become withdrawn and depressed in response to stress will find that standing and moving around can immediately lower stress levels. 

Benefits of standing desk - Standing up promotes better mood

Also, people who get stuck in the “flight” response when overwhelmed with stress, will overcome this response over time by learning to take a walk around the block. 

Aside from immediate relief, working while standing and taking frequent breaks to move around lowers your stress levels in the long run. Standing at your desk increases your productivity. When you are more productive, you avoid stress caused by backlogs at work.

9. Standing can reduce shoulder, neck, and lower back pain.

Working while standing and taking frequent breaks to move around can reduce shoulder, neck and back pain because your body is not stuck in a single position all day. 

Another reason to incorporate standing into what would normally be a sitting-all-day work routine is to prevent spinal injuries and spinal compression.

Like a well-oiled machine made up of gears, your body is composed of muscles and joints. It is made to move. 

The problem is, when our body is stuck in a single position for extended periods of time (i.e sitting), our joints and muscles stiffen, causing neck, shoulder and back pain.

Working while standing up makes you more aware of the need to walk around and move about from time to time versus working while sitting down.

I used to have stiff shoulders and an aching neck when I worked while sitting all the time. It was not only painful, it distracted me from doing my work. 

Standing while working relieved the pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders. In turn, I became more focused and productive at work.

10. Standing while working may lower blood sugar levels.

A study was conducted on overweight people who spend most of their workday sitting down. This was to see whether changing their sedentary routine would affect their blood sugar levels. 

In the first week, they did what they would normally do: sit all day in their desks while working. During the second week of the study, instead of sitting for the most of their 8-hour workday, they worked while standing up in 30-minute intervals, for a total of 2.5 hours. 

Results showed a significant decrease in their blood sugar levels. Reduced blood sugar levels translate to a reduced risk of having Diabetes. Surprisingly, lower blood sugar levels can also increase your chances of having a healthier heart.

11. Standing while working Improves your digestion

Food is digested up to 30% faster when you stand and move minutes after you eat. 

Standing after eating or even eating while standing up may also be extremely helpful in reducing reflux and heartburn.

Those with reflux are often advised to stand upright and avoid reclining or slouching while eating, as well as for several hours after a meal 

The reason for this is that reclining or slouching increases pressure in the stomach, making it more likely that food will be pushed back up into the esophagus.

12. Standing while working improves blood circulation.

When you sit for long periods, blood flow slows through your legs. This increases the risk of a blood clot. 

Standing and walking around from time to time improves blood circulation and reduces your risk of having cardiovascular disease.

Before, when I was sitting the whole day at work, I used to occasionally feel tingling in my hands and feet.  I also used to get tired easily. I didn’t know that those were symptoms of poor blood circulation until I consulted my doctor.

He advised me to stand up and walk around as often as I can to improve my blood circulation. When I changed my work routine, the tingling went away and I had more energy at work.

13. Standing while working helps you sleep better at night.

One cause of insomnia is a sedentary lifestyle. Working while sitting all day in the office increases the risk of sleeping problems. 

Benefits of standing desk - Standing while working helps promote deep sleep

Standing while working and taking frequent breaks to move around improves your mood and blood circulation which in  turn helps you sleep better at night.

14. Standing while working strengthens your leg muscles.

Sitting for long periods can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles. These large muscles are important for walking and for stabilizing you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and from strains when you do exercise.

15. Standing while working decreases your risk of having varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis.

Because sitting causes blood to pool in your legs, sitting for long periods can lead to varicose veins or spider veins — a milder version of varicose veins.

They may not be a serious health issue in some cases, but they are unsightly and oftentimes painful.

However, sitting for too long can also cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), like when you’re on a long plane trip. A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the veins of your leg.

DVT is a serious problem because if part of a blood clot in the leg vein breaks off and travels, it can cut off the blood flow to other parts of the body, including your lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency that can lead to major complications or even death. 

Because of these benefits, several industries have been using standing desks in their workplace including: sales, music production, education and IT. 

However, I’m not saying that you should replace sitting all day with standing all day. Read here to learn more about how long you should be standing while working.

So to sum it all up: Breaking down your work-day into standing, sitting and moving around can benefit your productivity, your mental acuity, your mood, and your overall health.

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