The Health Benefits of Standing

hemingway-standing-desk-e1380299614146Standing is sooo 2013. Not everyone may know this, but author Ernest Hemingway was a fan of the standing desk method. This may sound a bit odd but are you willing to argue with the guy who wrote the world-famous For Whom the Bell Tolls, among other classic pieces of classic literature? Among other classic authors who wrote standing: Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Vladamir Nabokov, and Søren Kierkegaard. Maybe they all knew something we don’t. We live in a society where everyone is constantly sitting: all day at the office, in the car, at home and so forth.

Introducing the standing desk. These became popular during the 19th century in state legislature offices and other governmental institutions and were also included in some school classrooms in the late 1800s. According to Dr. Ludwig Wilhelm Johannes Kotelmann’s book School Hygiene, repeated sitting was said to injure the abdominal organs and disrupt circulation. Standing desks were said to be beneficial not only for physical comfort but for one’s health as well.

One study conducted by epidemiologist Alpha Patel found that people who sit for more than six hours a day have a 20 percent higher death rate than those who sit for three hours or less. Another study showed that people who sat for 23 hours or more per week had a 64 percent increased chance of dying from heart disease.

And if those stats don’t affect how you view sitting, maybe this will: weight loss. When sitting, your heart rate and calorie burn drop immensely. While burning 72 calories an hour standing up as opposed to 54 calories an hour sitting down may not sound like much, over time that can add up to a significant amount. If you do your math that comes to 2,880 calories burned standing up during a forty-hour work week. Not too bad, huh? Might be worth trying if you find that you’re not having any luck on the South Beach Diet or Atkins.

Back pain is another issue that a lot of people who sit at desks all day encounter at some point in their lives. I thought that was all just hearsay until I eventually experienced it for myself (and I’m not even thirty!) Slouching in a chair takes its toll on your back because you’re not engaging your back muscles, whereas standing up keeps them in use and improves your posture. Many people have reported that after switching to a standing desk, their back pain was cured without the need for other treatment, like physical therapy or the chiropractor.

If you’re still on the fence about trying the standing up method,  keep in mind that other advocates of the standing desk included Thomas Jefferson, who used his to draw up architectural blueprints for buildings such as the Virginia State Capitol. Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens were also fans of the same method. Hemingway never sat – he converted an old bookcase into a standing desk and did all of his writing and reading there. While I don’t think I’m ready to stand forty hours a week in a row, I have set up my desktop computer on our kitchen counter, and I’ll spend some of my time standing up, which definitely makes me feel better when I need to go in for a stretch. And if I get tired? Well, that’s what stools are for.

+ Leave a Reply