Written By: Janki Patel
One of the most popular characters in The Office sitcom, Dwight Shrute, was slightly correct when he decided to have a standing desk instead of a sitting desk during one episode of the hilarious TV show, while all his coworkers remained sitting. He even stated that, "standing has been proven to be healthier, increases productivity, and just looks cooler." Yet, Dwight works for a fictional company . How relevant are his and his coworkers' situations? In reality, standing can burn more calories than sitting . Moreover and more importantly, it helps individuals avoid the side-effects of continual sitting, such as cardio-metabolic risks. Unfortunately though, many individuals with desk jobs face this problem on a regular basis. In fact, adults spend about 8 hours a day in a sedentary state .
As ideal as it would be, it is incredibly difficult to avoid poor posture. Modern furniture in office spaces and schools are designed in a way that make them difficult to use properly. Many people are bound to sit in awkward, harmful positions. Around half of the industrialized population has some form of back complaint, most likely due to poor postures in the workplace. It is recommended that individuals sit in upright positions, with their ankle, knees, and hips in 90 degree angles. However, this is hard to maintain as it can be uncomfortable. In fact, no normal children can remain in this positions for more than 1 to 2 minutes . On average, posture is becoming worse through the years, especially with continual cellphone and computer use .
However, as hard as it can become, maintaining good posture is important for good health. When one does not have proper posture, muscles are more stressed when maintaining balance. They either become inhibited or they become tight, both of which can be unhealthy. Thus, this can lead to higher chances of accidents involving joints, ligaments, etc. Organs can suffer damage too. For example, the lungs can become stressed, which can make respiration more difficult . Other health conditions attributed to poor posture are scoliosis, tension headaches, Type 2 Diabetes, and even premature mortality [3,5].
So, what can be done? Should everyone start standing at their desks like Dwight? Despite popular belief, standing at one's desk is not any better than sitting. It does not burn a higher amount of calories and too much of it can raise chances of hospitalization due to enlarged veins . Thus, in order to continue sitting, but with a better posture, one should keep his or her neck vertical, shoulders relaxed, and feet flat on the floor. This may be hard to do based on the environments people work in. Hence, they can make adjustments. For instance, they can bring their chairs down or raise their computer screens so that they can keep their neck vertical . Overall, whether you stand or sit, make sure to maintain good posture and be mobile as much as possible.
1. "Mrs. California." The Office. Writ. Greg Daniels and Dan Greaney. Dir. Charlie Grandy. NBC, 2011. Netflix.
2. “Calorie Burner: How Much Better is Standing Up than Sitting.” BBC News. Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2018.
3. Dunstan, D.W., Howard, B., Healy, G.N., Owen, N. 2012. Too much sitting - a health hazard. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 97: 368-376.
4. Mandal, A.C. 1981. The seated man (homo sedans) the seated work position. Theory and practice. Applied Ergonomics. 12: 19-26.
5. Ted-Ed. “The Benefits of Good Posture - Murat Dalkilinc.” TedEd. TedEd, 30 July 2015. Web. 27 January 2018.
6. Chen, Angus. "Stand To Work If You Like, But Don't Brag About The Benefits." National Public Radio, Inc. Mar. 2016. Web. 27 Jan. 2018.