Get set, stand!

In our day to day jobs, we tend to sit for a long time. Longer than is good or recommended for our spines. Research has linked being seated for long hours to health conditions like obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat gain around the waist line and abnormal cholesterol levels. Decreased metabolic rate is one of the scariest side effects of sitting for longer. One may dismiss this as research and recent finds being quite dramatic these days. But let’s take a retrospective look to trace the journey through time and see how our lifestyles have changed so drastically.

About 30 years ago, owning a vehicle was a luxury. People used public transport which meant they’d walk to a bus stop/ subway station/ hail a cab (which was also far and few) or basically move a lot more to take a vehicle to their work place or wherever they wanted to go. Indian style washrooms were more common than the pots we’re so used to now. We squatted more. We gardened more. We washed and dried our clothes ourselves. We sent our own couriers. There were so many chores we did ourselves in and around the house.

Then came an era where technology wanted to make its presence felt and in came the affordable cars, fancy bikes, advanced washing machines, dish washers, fake grass!, online shopping, concierge apps (as much as we love the convenience, it’s made sitting easier) and so many more ways to ensure you sat and got as much done as possible with the click of a button. Standing or walking became an effort and something that could be avoided if needed. People started complaining of pain in their legs after standing even for a few minutes.

A new field of medicine called environmental medicine focuses on interactions between human health and the environment. There is mounting evidence in this field that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body’s systems. They suggest “earthing” which is a way to reconnect the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. To “earth” yourself or “ground” yourself is to simply stand (preferably bare feet) on the ground. This helps regularize internal bodily functions and restore cortisol secretion. Cortisol is a hormone that can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation and help improve memory formation.

Recently, Tim Cook – disclosed only one insider detail about Apple Park, the company’s new headquarters. All employees got state of the art standing desks. While he didn’t mention anything about the brand, he did mention it was a step he took for all the employees to improve their lifestyles. He even cited doctors who have said “sitting is the new cancer.” Most of their employees wear Apple watches and 10 mins before an hour is up, they all suddenly get up and move. It took them some getting used to but now it’s a habit.

Using a standing desk is a great way to ensure you are not seated for 6 – 8 hours like you would be in a traditional office space. More and more organizations are choosing to revolutionalize employee benefits being offered and adding furniture like standing desks since it is minimal effort and brings maximum benefits to the employee’s health. This is over and above offers like gyms and wellness club memberships which are impersonal and at the employee’s discretion to use or ignore. Introducing standing desks to the work environment will encourage more and more people to look after their spinal cords and improve their posture naturally and ergonomically.

It’s never too late to make a change – more so when it is for your health. Stand today for a better tomorrow. Get set, stand!

Written by Nivedita Kannan