Stand at your desk for a healthier, happier lifestyle

Ana P. Santos
The Thai Health Promotion Foundation's standing desk is designed to promote physical activity with its own exercise manual illustrating various poses and stretches that you can do while standing

Illustration courtesy of Thai Health Promotion Foundation     BANGKOK, Thailand – We spend as much as 9 hours a day sitting – in our cars during our commute to work, at our desk, while watching television, or scrolling through social media.

Prolonged inactivity due to excessive sitting is harmful to your health and has been been linked to obesity, higher blood pressure, and diabetes. In the long term, it makes you more vulnerable to noncommunicable diseases or diseases of long duration and slow progression.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 4 main types of noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attack and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

The WHO said noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for about 63% of deaths every year.

Experts advise: Sit less, move more

Pairoj Saonuam, a medical doctor and executive director of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, suggested incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine by having a standing desk in your office or your workplace at home.

“The standing desk is designed to promote physical activity. You can use the standing desk during meetings with your team,” said Saonuam, who launched the standing desk at the recently concluded Prince Mahidol Award Conference – a conference that gathered public health experts to discuss ways to combat noncommunicable diseases.

While standing desks are slowly gaining popularity in online and retail stores, the standing desk designed by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation is illustrated with various poses and stretches that you can do while standing

Illustration courtesy of Thai Health Promotion Foundation

The standing desk is adjustable from 65 centimeter (25 inches for sitting position) to 110 centimeter (43 inches for standing position). From its high table height, you can bend over and do shoulder stretches, or kick back your legs for an exercise called “table climbers.” You can also adjust the standing desk to a lower height and do low-table exercises like knee arches, half squats or even push ups.

Even if you don’t feel like bending over into a yoga pose during a meeting with your colleagues, you can burn up to 35 calories just by standing for 15 minutes. Standing for 30 minutes can burn up to 70 calories.

Illustration courtesy of Thai Health Promotion Foundation

“Your body will expend extra energy and lose some fat while standing. But it is not enough – you should change your posture and add other activities like walking and running,” Saonuam said.

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation designed prototypes of the standing desk and is promoting its use in places like meeting rooms where a more active lifestyle is most needed. Saonuam hopes that the standing desk will become a regular fixture in offices and even schools.    

Illustration courtesy of Thai Health Promotion Foundation

“Standing while working is a win-win. You can complete your job and you can spend time being physically active. Together, it’s good for your health and it will make you happy,” Saonuam said. –