12/26/2016 01:32 EST | Updated 12/26/2016 01:56 EST

Standing Desks And Sitting Desks Are Both Bad For You

Young businessman using at laptop at desk
moodboard via Getty Images
Young businessman using at laptop at desk

In recent years, many people have been swapping out their office chairs for standing desks in an effort to mitigate the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. But, over time, we may start to see as many issues arising at standing desks as at a sitting desk. Why is that?

Regardless of how you might spend time at your desk, both sitting and standing can cause aches, pains, fatigue and discomfort after a long time, simply because you are not moving. Sitting creates immense pressure on your disks and vertebrae -- it's a very demanding position for your spine to sustain!

We also tend to slump or hinge forward when we get absorbed in our work, whether it is on a screen or over the desk. Regardless of the posture you adopt while absorbed in your work, stress builds in your hips, spine, neck and shoulders. When you're standing, issues can also arise because of how you bear weight through your feet and up your legs, how your spine and pelvis align, and especially how you hold your head and neck.

One of the ways to mitigate against aches, pains, fatigue and discomfort during your workday, whether you are sitting or standing, is to make sure that you are moving your body in intelligent and supportive ways. Ideally, moving your body for 5 minutes every hour of your workday will help alleviate tension or pain in your body caused by sitting or standing. A few minutes of movement will also help you feel more alert, thereby increasing your focus and productivity levels!

Here are 5 anti-gravity and posture re-aligning exercises to help keep you healthy, pain-free and feel more alert at work. Set an hourly alarm to remind you to stop and step away from your workstation and soon you should begin to notice how small changes in your work routine can make a huge impact on your physical and mental well-being at work and beyond.

1) The Kayaker

Stand with your hands at the back your your head and your elbows in your peripheral vision. Curl forward slightly in upper back (as if your breast bone is bending and your heart pressing inward). Stay slightly rounded and begin to make a kayaking motion with your arms. Your entire upper body starts to rotate as the arms move. This is exactly what you want so your thoracic spine becomes mobile. Make this your go to exercise because it is one of the best things you can do for your hips and legs and you can do it anywhere.

Recommended Reps: 6-10 reps

2) Hula Hoop Hips

Stand with a wide stance and do hula hoop motions with your hips in both directions to mobilize both hips and both ankles. Start with small circles and slowly widen them as motion becomes freer. If there is any discomfort in your knees make the motion smaller or omit temporarily.

Recommended Reps: 6-10

3) Squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your eyes looking on your horizon to help keep your spinal alignment neutral. Bend gently through hips, knees and ankles. Gradually make the motion bigger while maintaining a neutrally aligned spine. Make sure there is not discomfort in your knees; if you do feel some discomfort it is the signal to limit the range or omit the exercise temporarily. This exercise wakes up the muscles around weight-bearing joints, targeting calves, front of thighs and buttocks -- all muscles important for overall support and for the transition from sitting to standing.

Recommended Reps: 6-10

4) One-legged Pendulum Balance

Standing with legs and feet hip-distance apart, lowly shift your weight to the left foot and push off the ground with right foot. Reverse, and make the same shift to the right, pushing the left foot off the ground. Start to move back and forth continuously, like a pendulum, shifting left to right, balancing on one foot and then the other. Make sure to stay tall and strong on the supporting side. This exercise helps build support around the hips, especially in the major stabilizers along the outer side.

Recommended Reps: 6-10

5) Hip Hinge to Upper Back Bend

Stand with feet hip distance apart and hands crossed over chest. Hinge at hips so torso leans forward to about 70º. The key in this initial phase of the movement is to isolate the motion to your hips, keeping spine neutral. Make sure to reduce the range of motion if you feel your back rounding. Reverse to tall standing, and bend backward through your upper back. Allow your hips to glide forward slightly without compressing your lower back.

Recommended Reps: 6-10

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