Say I'm a professional coder / data scientist / banker, and I spend most of Monday - Friday sitting at my desk, doing stressful work on a couple of computer screens.
If I switch to a standing desk, will this improve my overall health and lifestyle?
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The simple answer to your question is yes. It will help improve your health if you actually use it as intended.
The long answer is, of course, a bit more complex.
I did this myself more than five years ago, initally just for the fun of it but later found some pleasantly surprising consequences, namely: - Walked around and talked to people more. Since I was already standing & didn't have to "get up & walk", I was just always more prone to take a few steps to talk to colleagues (as simple as it sounds, it's a big deal when it's a physical habit change from prolonged sitting). - Weight loss from unexpected places like love handles (I'm not implying it directly caused the loss, but really helped). - Absolutely changed my physical habits to the better by virtual of simply already not sitting. I dropped the sitting time from 5-6 hours to less than 2 ( mostly meetings & grouo work sessions).
Back to what's complex. The desk is just another tool. How you use it is the key to its benefits.
It's a tool to help remove you from a prolonged sedentary habit, which is physically damaging to your long term health. So, you have to make sure the transition works for you, and commit to using it, finding ways to make it natural and comfortable. For example, have a set of comfortable shoes to change & use with it. Have a foot rest to help you get one knee up & shift weight from side to side.
Remember, it's not so much that you need to stand all the time, it's about avoiding prolonged sitting.
Here are a couple of articles you might find helpful.