What do Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all have in common? Aside from the fact they were all of the male variety and just a bit famous, these guys were said to have used stand-up desks. Winston Churchill, Vladimir Nabokov and Ernest Hemingway are other notable standers.
So? Well, it would seem that standing more might help you live longer. In a new study of more than 100,000 men and women from all across the United States, those who sat for more than six hours a day were more likely to have died – mostly of cardiovascular disease – over the course of the 14-year study than those who sat for less than three hours a day. This relationship held true even among those who exercised regularly. Earlier studies have shown much the same thing.
I know that sitting in front of my computer for extended periods of time gives me a headache pretty regularly and my back aches too. On the other hand, standing for too long, or the wrong way, can cause sore feet or knees, low back pain, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and other health problems. I know when I am waiting in queues I have the tendency to lean on my right leg and have to keep reminding myself to stand up straight.
Standing does burn more calories, strengthens leg muscles and keeps the blood flowing. I tried it this week while teaching the 16 members of the Western Australian Institute of Sport Men’s Waterpolo team, which includes both state and Australian players. It was good fun and I found myself teaching some budding Master Chef’s and then others just learning the basics. Either way, everyone gained a new skill or two, all integral to World Class performance. With training sessions morning and night, it can be tricky to fit in a spot of cooking. Sometimes all we need is some basic skills, an idea or two, online shopping and recipes that only take 15-20 minutes.
But back to Winston and Leonardo. Try standing for a change and it might just enhance your daily performance.