Work In Motion: Alternatives To The Desk And Chair
Sitting is the new smoking. So get up and moving with these alternatives to sitting at your desk all day.
Sitting has developed a bad rap in the last few years. The ill-effects of sitting many, many hours a day at our desks, in our cars and on our couches has made it comparable to smoking.
Let’s be honest: sitting is comfy. I like sitting. I like sitting on chairs, in couches, and even on the floor. I like to stretch my legs and put them up with I work, watch TV or play games on my iPad.
But, according to several studies, doing so might endanger my health. Sitting for four hours a day or more has all kinds of bad effects on your body:
- Heart disease
- Overactive pancreas
- Colon cancer
- Tight hip flexors
- Poor leg circulation
- Soft bones
- Brain fog
- Neck strain
- Back and shoulder soreness
- Lack of flexibility in spine
- Spinal disk damage
Scary, isn’t it? Even scarier: a UK study determined that those who watch the most TV (7+ hours a day) have a 61% greater risk of dying than those who watch less than two hours per day. (I mean, we all have a 100% chance of dying one day, but I’d prefer it was later than sooner.)
Human bodies are not meant to stay stationary for days on end. They are meant to move, walk, run, bend, stretch. It’s no surprise that many people whose job involves mostly computer work are now thinking up alternatives to sitting down all day long. If you want to incorporate some more movement in your life–be it in your home office, in your living room or even your bedroom–here are some interesting alternatives that will keep you moving, and hopefully healthy.
Standing desks: the new standard
To say that standing desks have gone through an explosion in popularity would be an understatement. Standing desks are actually becoming the new standard in many commercial and home office renovations.
The standing desk is pretty much what it says it is. It has plenty of benefits, too:
- Reduced risk of obesity
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic problems
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Reduced long-term mortality risks
Basically, standing desks counteract many of the problems caused by long seating periods.
However, standing desks are not a magic panacea. Standing for long periods of time without breaks also has its own risks, including varicose veins, carotid atherosclerosis, knee problems and numb feet.
The solution? A sit-and-stand desk, where you can shift between sitting and standing periods to balance your efforts.
A space where you can both sit and stand without interrupting your work is the ideal way to take advantage of the health benefits of standing and of the relaxing benefits of sitting.
Exercise desks: when standing is not enough
Some people pushed the idea even further and set up desks around exercise machines, either on their stationary bikes or their treadmills.
Walking regularly at a moderate pace is among the easiest and healthiest exercise you can do. It helps by:
- Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing high cholesterol
- Reducing body fat
- Enhancing mental wellbeing
- Increasing bone density
- Reducing the risk of cancer of the colon
- Helping to control body weight
- Helping osteoarthritis
- Helping to increase flexibility and co-ordination
If you can do that AND work at the same time, you are definitely helping your health.
Other solutions for stationary bikes and elliptical machines also exist, so whatever exercise machine you have at home can be used for working as well.
Other ideas to get you moving
I stumbled on this great article from Fast Co.Exist about this desk-less office in Amsterdam. Part health experiment and part art project, this office space is definitely out of this world.
This space is meant to get employees to move around in different postures and positions depending on what they have to do: they can lean to talk, sit to type, stand to take notes. It feels like a giant sand dune was sculpted by aliens.
If you can’t stand or walk for very long but want to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, try a swiss ball chair. The lack of back support forces you to use your own strength to stay upright.
Let’s get moving!
Have you ever tried an alternative to sitting at your desk all day? What did you do and how did it work out? Let us know in the comments.