Breathing is probably not something you think about often. It is normally such an involuntary, autonomous act. Yet Eastern medicine and philosophy have focused on breathing for thousands of years. Buddhist monks, tai chi experts, and yoga masters all treat it as a core component of their training.
Virtually all the big name life mastery/motivational speakers (Tony Robbins comes to mind) also speak about the benefits of proper breathing.
Okay, so what does this have to do with standing desks? Well, the posture, while you're at your standing desk, is very conducive to good breathing. The slouched posture while sitting? Not so much so.
Let's first talk about what happens when we breathe and why the standing position is ideal, and then we can talk more about its benefits.
Breathing is an act of the respiratory system. The essence of the job (a rather important one) is to move oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. The main pathway is from the nose to the lungs. The main muscle that moves air in and out is the diaphragm. This is also the main muscle that all the "coaches" or "trainers" focus on (the monks, yogi, athletes, vocal coaches, etc).
The movement of the diaphragm causes the lungs to expand and contract. With an expansion, air is sucked in and reaches your alveoli, and then oxygen is passed into your blood vessels. Carbon dioxide moves out from the capillaries into the air sacs. When you are standing up straight at your standing desk, there is no restriction on your diaphragm. Your lunch capacity is greater, your oxygen flow is improved, your circulation is improved. Sitting in a chair impedes the diaphragm.
The breathing benefits of standing versus sitting were proven in this study. There was also another study done showing how brass players (who need the best lung function they can get) perform best while standing.
So standing means better breathing. What does this mean for you? Well, you may not have realized all that breathing is doing for you, day in and day out. Here's a list of what breathing does:
1. Breathing removes toxins. Did you know that 70% of the toxins from your body are released through breathing? That process of carbon dioxide being released by your body is actually a cleansing mechanism where toxins are taken from your bloodstream to your lungs and released.
2. Breathing is good for the brain. Oxygenation of the brain maximizes efficiency and reduces anxiety levels. Neuroreceptor functioning improves, and mood-lifting neurochemicals are released.
3. Breathing is good for the body. It induces muscle/tissue building and repair. Even if you're not a bodybuilder, good oxygen flows in the bloodstream is needed to stay young and healthy.