You’ve probably seen a co-worker catch up on emails at the office’s treadmill desk, while another knocks out reports at their standing desk. But did you know they’re lowering their risk for heart disease, obesity, and back and neck pain, too?
Studies have linked sitting a lot to these and other health problems. Even people who exercise most days face health risks if they sit too much. Standing desks raise your computer high enough for you to work and stand at the same time. This keeps you on your feet for more of the day.
Benefits of sit-stand desk and treadmill desks have gained in popularity over the past several years. A recent survey of HR professionals reported that the use of standing desks had increased by 7% in the last year as an employer-provided office perk. Offering a standing desk is one of those wellness options that are easy for employers to support and really improves office morale.
The use of sit-stand desks, has been scientifically proven to improve your productivity, concentration and increase your creativity. The reason for this, is whilst your standing some of the body’s largest muscles are working, so this increases blood flow to the brain. Therefore, it improves the way we feel and improves the way we work. It has also been found that sit-stand desks have the ability to increase productivity from up to 10-20%.
As well as becoming more productive, sit-stand desks will lead to much greater health than those who sit for an extensive period of time. It has been discovered that office workers spend 65% to 75% of their working hours sitting down, the majority of this takes place in prolonged periods of sustained sittings. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that compared with those who sit the least, those who sit the most are more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and have a 13% and 17% increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality respectively.
As mentioned in an above paragraph, it requires the use of more muscles, so it’s no surprise that you burn more calories whilst using a sit-stand desk due to the increase in blood flow. Standing uses around 13 per cent more energy over the course of an eight-hour day, says Dr Dunstan, who is head of physical activity at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. This accumulates to four hours standing burning the equivalent to what you would if you went on a 45-minute walk. Useful reference here.
Sit-stand desks don’t just have long term benefits, as they are also extremely beneficial in the short term for the body. Standing helps prevent a harmful build-up of sugars and fats in your blood, as a result, workers who stand more have better energy levels and concentration.
What is a standing desk?
But before we get into the benefits, let’s look at what exactly is a standing desk. Standing desks (also referred to as adjustable standing desks, stand-up desks or sit-stand desks) allow you to stand up comfortably while working normally at a computer for example.
Many modern iterations of standing desks are adjustable (either manually or electronically) which enable the user to freely switch between both uses of the desk depending on the situation at hand.
Some high-tier standing desks also come with a memory bank of desk heights that can be pre-set so you can set your desired desk high in advance and interchange between those heights at just a push of a button.
Standing Desk Ergonomics: Get the Position Right
You may hear the word ergonomics associated with office furniture and computer equipment. Ergonomics refers to the way designers create equipment to align comfortably with the shape of the human body. Using biotechnology and design engineering, office furniture manufacturers have some ingenious solutions to help you have better posture while you work.
In the early days, standing desks were often a few boxes or a pile of books propped up under your laptop. Now a standing desk may be adjustable with different levers to raise and adjust the keyboard, keep the monitor at eye level (to counteract “hunching” and neck strain), and even a comfortable wrist pad for your mouse.
It’s often not practical to stand during every task. For example, taking a call, video conferencing, or quick emails might be easy standing activities. On the other hand, writing, design, or intensive research may be easier to do while sitting down. Give yourself time to ease into a routine of sitting and standing. Aim for a few 15-30-minute standing intervals throughout your day until you reach a balance that feels right to you.
Another aspect of standing desk ergonomics to consider are measures to prevent knee and leg strain. Standing for a long time with your knees locked or wearing heels can cause stress to your legs and even your lower back. Keep your knees loose and slightly bent. Look for a comfortable standing mat that’s made to accompany the desk and wear comfortable, supportive shoes while you stand.
Choose an adjustable standing desk. Many options sit right on top of your standard desk and use hydraulics to raise and lower the platform that holds your computer easily. These ergonomic standing desks make it simple to reap all the benefits of standing at work.
Benefits of Standing at Work
Standing burns more calories than sitting, even if you simply stand still. Now, the calorie difference between standing versus sitting isn’t huge. Standing burns about 100-200 calories per hour, while sitting burns 60-130 calories. But over time, it can add up.
The other calorie-burning benefit of standing at work is the shift in your mindset. When you’re standing up, you’re more likely to keep your mind in “wellness mode.” You’ll walk around a bit more often throughout the day. You might do some leg lifts or take a quick break with some squats or jumping jacks. These little shifts in activity help you burn more calories during your workday.
Standing Can Lower Your Risk Of Weight Gain And Obesity
Weight gain is attributed to the simple premise of if you intake more calories than you burn in a given day, you will put on weight.
Burning calories is what our body does naturally, however, this can be increased by performing an exercise such as running and walking. But did you know that standing as opposed to sitting can burn more calories?
Many employees attribute weight gain to moving to their current job as it is believed it was due to sitting down all day.
On average, standing up burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting. Although a simple increase in energy expenditure isn’t the only benefit to your waist line. There may also be metabolic changes at play, such as the body’s cells becoming less responsive to insulin, or sedentary muscles releasing lower levels of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase. Failing to take advantage of these constant movement opportunities is closely associated with obesity.
Research suggests that our conventional exercise strategy of sitting all day at work, then hitting the gym or going for a run “makes scarcely more sense than the notion that you could counter a pack-a-day smoking habit by jogging,” as James Vlashos puts it in the New York Times. The key to reducing the risk of obesity is consistent, moderate levels of movement throughout the day. So why not save yourself time by including standing up at work to your exercise routine, or even better! Why not add the occasional set of squats or calf raises throughout your day? Click to read more.
Standing an additional three hours a day over the course of a year (which can easily be done while in the office) can burn up to 30,000 extra calories. This equates to eight pounds of fat and is equivalent of running about ten marathons.
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Other Metabolic Problems
The detrimental health impacts of sitting and the benefits of standing appear to go beyond simple obesity. Some of the same studies have found that sitting for extended periods of time is correlated with reduced effectiveness in regulating levels of glucose in the bloodstream, part of a condition known as metabolic syndrome that dramatically increases the chance of type 2 diabetes.
A 2008 study , found that people who sat for longer periods during their day had significantly higher levels of fasting blood glucose, indicating that their cells became less responsive to insulin, with the hormone failing to trigger the absorption of glucose from the blood. A 2013 study also concluded that for people already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the amount of time spent sitting could be a more important risk factor than the amount of time spent vigorously exercising.
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
A study in the 1950s, compared rates of heart disease in London bus drivers (who sit) and bus conductors (who stand) and found that the bus drivers experienced more heart attacks and other cardiac problems than the conductors. More recent studies have found that adults who spend two more hours per day sitting have a 125% increased risk of health problems related to cardiovascular disease, including chest pain and heart attacks, than those who sit less than 2 hours per day. Furthermore, men who spend more than five hours per day sitting outside of work were at twice the risk of heart failure than those who sit for fewer than two hours daily outside of the office, regardless of exercise!
Gives You an Energy Burst
In an analysis of 53 studies published in the Applied Ergonomics journal, having a standing desk encouraged workers to spend more time on their feet. Researchers in the UK found that 66% of workers felt more productive and 87% felt more energized by spending just an hour of their workday standing. The findings were so useful that they began the Smart Work and Life program to encourage office workers to get more active.
Small movements and active moments throughout the day help you stay awake and alert. You feel more engaged when you literally “think on your feet.” If you’re feeling sluggish throughout your workday, adding a few periods of standing can help you get back some of that energy and enthusiasm.
Standing Can Help Tone Muscles And Improve Posture
It's to no surprise that we use more muscles to stand for an hour compared to sitting. Standing intermittently during your working day can help strengthen your core, leg, ankle and foot muscles.
But for all the above to be beneficial, you must stand correctly. It's no good taking the time to stand while working if you’re going to end up slouching.
Incorporating standing into your daily routine may take time to get used to, so if you are struggling with this, incrementally increase the time you stand instead of opting for a 4-hour session from the get-go.
To stand with the correct posture, stand up straight and centre your feet below your hips. Tuck your tailbone in, push your shoulders back and keep your head held high, but with your chin parallel to the floor. Along with improved posture and toning of your muscles, you may even raise your metabolism, thus increasing your calorie-burning per hour even more.
Standing Could Improve Mood And Energy Levels
Sitting has been linked to both an increased risk in depression and anxiety. On the flip side, standing has been attributed to increased levels of mood and energy levels.
A study conducted in March to May 2011 found that those that use sit-stand desks reported increased mood states as opposed to those who sat for longer.
Those that returned to their more traditional old desks found their moods reverting back to original levels.
Along with improved mood and energy, standing also invites collaboration which pairs well with open-plan offices.
Standing Could Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
A study published June 29, 2018 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a link between long periods of leisure time sitting to a higher risk of cancer. The more you sit, the more likely you are to develop colon, endometrial or lung cancer.
With screen time playing a large part in our modern lives, anywhere we can decrease the time spent sitting is a win.
Many of us sit for eight hours during the working day which can easily be remedied with a standing desk.
Keeps Circulation Going
If we look back at human evolution, our bodies were made to move. When we stand, we improve our leg muscles, our balance, and our core strength. We also prevent blood clots from forming in the legs. When people sit for a long time (such as on a plane), blood may slow and pool in their legs. In the worst cases, this can lead to a blood clot.
When we stand up, we move our legs and get the blood flowing throughout our bodies. In some studies, people who sat for long periods even had shorter life spans due to poor cardiovascular health. Standing often is part of a healthier lifestyle.
The Right Way to Stand
Experts say the best way to use a standing desk is to stand for a while, sit, then stand again. Do this several times throughout the day. To start, stand for just 30 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Add an hour, then add 2 or more hours as you feel comfortable.
Move the standing desk so your body is properly aligned. Your head, neck, and spine should be in a straight line when you stand. And your elbows should form a 90-degree angle when your wrists are flat on the desk. Put your computer monitor at eye level. Click here now.
Wear comfortable shoes with no heel or a low one. Stand on a cushioned mat for more support.
Every 30 minutes or so, leave your desk and take a walk. Head to a co-worker's desk or grab a drink at the fountain to get some exercise and give your back a break. And even though you're standing more, don't forget to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 5 days a week.
Besides less sitting time, standing at work has other benefits: More calories burned: One study showed that standing sheds 88 calories an hour, compared to 80 calories for sitting. Less back pain: Sitting for long periods of time tightens your muscles and can hurt your lower back, especially if you have bad posture.
Those who used standing desks during the studies reported an improvement of up to 32% in their lower back and neck pain after using the desk for a period of several weeks. Set your desk and your monitor at an appropriate height for your back and neck to achieve the correct posture.
That means for every 1 to 2 hours you sit in your office, 1 hour should be spent standing. Try to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 to 60 minutes. Bottom Line: Try to alternate between sitting and standing.
Although a standing desk might improve back pain, it's likely not a cure-all. For example, a standing desk might help improve your posture and take the pressure off your neck and lower back; however, it's not enough to correct more serious problems, such as scoliosis or a bulging disc.
New research shows that working at an Adjustable Height Sit to Standing Desk reduces mental fatigue, stimulates the thought process and makes one more focused and productive overall.