I started standing for at least 3 hours a day while working from home, and it boosted my energy levels
I've found myself sitting for around 12 hours every day, so I challenged myself to stand for three.
I noticed my energy returned and my body aches faded as the week went on.
I spoke with medical professionals who told me the challenge could also help me burn calories.
I tracked my sitting habits for a week, and the results were more shocking than I predicted. On average, I spent around 12 hours a day sitting in a chair, on the couch, or at my dining-room table.
According to Phung D. Tran, an American College of Sports Medicine-certified exercise physiologist, long bouts of sitting can cause more deposits of fats in the body and increase the risk of coronary diseases, diabetes, obesity, and depression.
"Standing, however, helps you burn more calories, improves glucose metabolism and muscle contractions to improve blood circulation, and helps you reduce cardiovascular risks," she said.
With that advice in mind, I challenged myself to stand for at least three hours every day for a week.
Here's how it affected my overall health:
I burned more calories when I was standing
One of the main reasons I wanted to practice standing more was so that I could feel healthier after being so sedentary this past year.
Even though there weren't a ton of places I could walk to (because of the pandemic), I realized I could just walk and stand around my tiny apartment and still find some benefits.
Laura Gilstrap, a registered dietitian-nutritionist, told me that when a person stands, they're burning anywhere from 100 to 200 calories per hour.
"In comparison, when a person is sitting, they are only burning 60 to 130 calories per hour," she added. "When you're on your feet, you're moving. Whether you feel it or not, you have activated your muscles, and that expels energy resulting in burned calories."
I put my laptop on my dresser to create a standing work-from-home experience. I took phone calls standing up and walking around my bedroom. I even watched an episode of TV while standing in my living room.
The body aches that popped up this year stopped hurting as much
A few months into the pandemic I started to notice that my body was aching and hurting more than it ever has before.
According to Alice Holland, doctor of physical therapy for Stride Strong, it was likely because of all the sitting and looking down at screens I was doing.
"Sitting puts the most pressure on your lumbar discs. This paired with the sheer amount and duration of sitting often produces undue strain on the structures of the low back," she said. "The sitter is at risk for bulging discs that have very long-ranging effects of pain and disability."
She continued, "Prolonged sitting also introduces external variables that affect the body — suddenly, height of chair, depth of chair, posture on the chair, workstation ergonomics now play a part in the sitter's comfort, posture, and long-term health."
When I started standing for three hours a day, I felt less back pain, my neck didn't hurt as much, and I noticed less pressure in my joints.
"Generally, standing introduces a healthier posture than in sitting," Holland added. "Standing also brings about more movement and blood flow to the body — all very healthy and beneficial to the body."
I had more energy as the week went on
At first, I really didn't like this challenge because it was hard to remember to stand up, and it wasn't as comfortable as slouching down in a chair. I felt drained by the end of the day.
But by day three, I noticed a big shift in my energy levels.
Physical therapist Lara Heiman told me that standing requires more energy, but it also gives you more energy.
"With this responsiveness, you can remain more engaged in your muscles, more aligned in your joints, and maintain a feeling of greater energy," she said.
I enjoyed all the benefits, but I probably won't continue standing for a full 3 hours a day
By the end of the week, it felt natural to watch a TV show standing or spend an hour answering emails without sitting in my desk chair.
I hope I keep this habit up, but moving forward, I won't be so strict about getting to three hours every day.
"It's not great to stand the entire day either," physical therapist Karena Wu said. "Standing too long creates too much general joint compression. You need to have breaks and sit to give the body a break."
She suggested balancing every hour of standing with 10 minutes of sitting and vice versa to make sure everything is in moderation.
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