Are standing desks good for you and your health?
Standing desks are a type of office furniture that allows you to work while standing up instead of sitting down on an office chair. Despite being a simple lifestyle adjustment, studies claim that standing desks have many health benefits such as losing weight, reducing back pain, cholesterol, blood sugar, and improving overall longevity.
We summarise the 7 key benefits for your health and wellbeing:
- Reduce back pain
- Improves blood sugar
- Avoid Obesity and Weight Gain
- Improves Mood, Boosts Energy, and Reduces Stress
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
- Improves Productivity
- Builds strong and stable posture
What are standing desks and what’s the story behind them?
Standing desks have become a trend especially for modern workspaces that encourage productivity through better work environments and employee health. But, the standing desk has been around for longer than you think.
Standing desks have been around since the 1400s and one of the most notable users was Leonardo Da Vinci himself. Da vinci claims that working on a standing desk has helped him become more creative and inspired – simply because he was painting while standing up. He even made one of his masterpieces, the Mona Lisa, on a standing desk. Another notable personality in a long line of people in history who preferred the standing desk is none other than the 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. In the late 1700s, he ordered a desk from a cabinetmaker in Williamsburg to design a taller desk with 6 legs for better stability. This standing desk had an adjustable slanted top which he used to draw up his architectural work.
It’s no wonder these incredible people are onto something, but as sitting desks were more affordable to reproduce, they became more widely used in factories, businesses and daily operations in society. But as time passed, standing desks have taken the spotlight because of all the benefits they can have on your health.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health says that long periods of sitting at your desk can have multiple negative effects on your health such as causing obesity, bad posture, diabetes, and more. Although research is still ongoing in regards to the link between sitting and other health risks, it is clear that more activity throughout the day such as standing on your workstation can only be beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
7 benefits of using a standing desk
Here we identify and discuss 7 of the key ways that using a standing desk can benefit your health, wellbeing and productivity at work.
1. Reduce back pain
As much as some activities can risk accidents that can cause pain, inactivity can also cause you body pain. Muscles are meant to move and if you don’t move them often enough, you end up with more pain that might even require medical treatments. Especially if you have an 8-hour corporate job where you end up sitting all throughout the day, it can be likely for you to develop some type of chronic back pain – more so if your office chair’s ergonomics is not optimal for you to maintain the right posture.
Medical experts say that this prolonged sitting work arrangement usually practiced in the corporate world can cause chronic pain that can start from your back and radiate towards your hips and legs. It can be extremely uncomfortable and end up spending more on treatments to cope with the pain. This fact makes incorporating a standing desk into your workstation a good idea as it helps your body take a break from sitting and move your body more when you work while standing up. So if you can’t seem to find free time to add exercise into your lifestyle to help steer away from a painful situation, a standing desk in your workstation can help you save some trouble, time, and money.
2. Improves blood sugar levels
As people have different body types, it would be good to monitor your health condition by paying attention to your blood sugar. Too much or too little sugar in your diet can cause an imbalance linked to premature onset of related diseases that usually set in later with old age. As much as you might want to take another slice of cake, you might need to check your diet especially if you don’t expend that extra sugar in your system with regular physical activities or exercise. To prevent this, you don’t necessarily need to go through extreme fad diets that can also be risky without the proper medical advice. Instead, it would be a good practice to become more active as even the lightest workout or exercise can help balance and improve your body’s chemistry – using up the excess energy you get from all the sugar you consume on a daily basis. The University of Leicester proved this through a study led by Dr. Joseph Henson and observed that physical inactivity is linked to the development of type 2 Diabetes in women.
Dr. Henson concluded, “Breaking up prolonged sitting with five minute bouts of standing or walking at a self-perceived light intensity significantly reduced sugar and insulin responses in women at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. This simple, behavioural approach could inform future public health interventions aimed at improving the metabolic profile of women at a high risk of Type 2 diabetes. As standing and walking are behaviourally more common than MVPA these findings may provide appealing interventional targets in the promotion of metabolic health.”
This means that using a standing desk can save you more trouble than you thought. Aside from simply boosting your metabolism through the addition of the lightest exercise into your work lifestyle, it can help prevent sugar level related diseases that you should keep in mind especially if it is common in your genes.
3. Avoid Obesity and Weight Gain
It might be hard to believe but you can actually burn more calories standing at your desk than sitting in front of it. According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard Health Publishing, “While sitting, study subjects burned 80 calories/hour — about the same as typing or watching TV.
While standing, The number of calories burned was only slightly higher than while sitting — about 88 calories/hour… In other words, use of a standing desk for three hours burns an extra 24 calories, about the same number of calories in a carrot.”
You might not find this as a big deal but in a world where sitting for 8 hours a day while working is a normal thing, you’d want to exert more effort managing your weight. Remember that weight gain is often due to inactivity and not necessarily just from overeating. You end up storing energy as fat instead of actually using it in physical activities. So, a standing desk will give you the option to actually exert more energy during work time. It’s not the same as spending an hour in the gym but it can help boost you into the direction of a healthier kind of weight loss and lifestyle.
4. Improves Mood, Boosts Energy, and Reduces Stress
You might not think that a simple adjustment to your workstation can make such a big difference but a standing desk can help improve your mood and energy levels while reducing stress. Most if not all corporate offices will have their employees sitting for long periods of time. Sitting for too long at a desk working on a difficult task can really take its toll on you. You can end up frustrated and the moment stress sets in, it affects your overall performance and ends up making you unproductive.
Well, it works similar to taking a break by taking a walk – that physical activity helps lessen the fatigue feeling of sitting down for too long. Once you are able to stand up and stretch a bit, you’re more able to wake up your muscles, stimulate blood flow and also assist in the circulation of oxygen through your body. This means that you’re able to exert more energy into being more productive and if you don’t feel stiff from sitting down for too long, your mood brightens up to help combat stress.
5. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
In this world where comfort and convenience come first, more and more aspects of daily life are made more convenient. This basically means easier access and more comfortable experience for recreational activities. Match that with sitting all day at work, then you might be setting yourself up for early onset of heart diseases. You see, this type of illness is avoided by making sure your heart is healthy and for that, you’ll need to include some exercise and activity in your lifestyle. Yes, sitting may be the number one position of comfort in any situation but spending less time sitting through the day can literally be good for your heart. In an article published in the Harvard Health Blog, Nancy Ferrari tackles how sitting can be detrimental to your heart health. She discussed a study where they saw an increase in cholesterol in less active individuals and that it can also lead to other health issues such as muscle pain and other cardiovascular issues.
Medical experts recommend a healthy dose of physical activity such as walking, running, or even just standing as these activities help your body use more energy than simply sitting. This is why a standing desk can help you include more energy burning time even if you just have no free time to work out.
6. Improves Productivity
There seems to be no end to how much a standing desk can help employees but it can also help employers with productivity improvements. Those companies who already incorporated a standing desk to their workplace are moving in the right direction. A study by the University of Leicester dug deep into the effects of standing while working and how it impacts productivity. The study involved observing employees through a duration of 12 months. They found that those who included standing while working to their lifestyles had better work performance and increased productivity in comparison to those not part of the program.
These results make sense as being able to sit less and stand while working means you can stretch your muscles more and actually get better blood circulation all throughout your body. That little extra oxygen being delivered through your body can help you focus better and heighten your brain activity. This can definitely be advantageous especially for a line of work that involves problem solving such as customer service, management, and more.
Do you need to freshen up your mind but don’t have the time to take a break? Then stand while you work. This’ll be good for you, your work, for your team, and your organization.
7. Builds strong and stable posture
Not all office chairs are good enough to help you maintain proper posture. Ergonomics have become an important aspect of designing office desks and chairs. All that prolonged sitting can worsen overall health, especially if they’re not optimal for you to maintain good posture. You can end up with chronic body pain or even bone problems if you don’t address posture issues as soon as you can.
In this aspect, a standing desk can help you maintain that optimal S shape your back needs to stay healthy as you age. When you’re standing, you can pay more attention than when you’re distributing body weight on a chair that may not be made for long periods of sitting. Of course, standing too long can be damaging too but being able to maintain that balance between sitting and standing can make all the difference especially with a good standing desk that can be adjusted to your ideal height. This can do wonders for your posture and have less risk to your long term muscle and spine health.
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7. Improves Posture
Not all office chairs are good enough to help you maintain proper posture. Ergonomics have become an important aspect of designing office desks and chairs. It’s because you end up sitting at your workstation for most of the day. All that prolonged sitting can only worsen overall health, especially if they’re not optimal for you to maintain good posture. You can simply end up with chronic body pain or even bone problems if you don’t address posture issues as soon as you can.
In this aspect, a standing desk can help you maintain that optimal S shape your back needs to stay healthy. When you’re standing, you can pay more attention than when you’re distributing body weight on a chair that is not really made for long periods of sitting. Of course, standing too long can be damaging too but being able to maintain that balance between sitting and standing can make all the difference especially with a good standing desk that can be adjusted to your ideal height. This can do wonders for your posture and have less risk to your muscle and bone health.
Are standing desks good for your health?
Yes. Studies show that prolonged sitting is linked to varying health issues so standing desks can help you take a break from sitting and continue working.
How long should you stand at your desk?
There is no precise length of time to stand at your desk. It can definitely be according to preference. The University of Waterloo did advise that standing at least 30 minutes per hour of sitting is required to get the health benefits from the practice.
Where to buy a standing desk?
Standing or height adjustable desks can be purchased in stores in the UK or online, at sites such as https://ezshopper.co.uk. Make sure to check the quality of the desk frame, motor and desktop before buying. Our desks are built to last and come with a warranty.
Do standing desks help you to lose weight or burn more calories?
Yes although studies show that prolonged periods of standing at your desk will be required to get significant weight loss results.
Does a standing desk help you burn more calories?
Yes. Multiple medical studies have proven that standing burns more calories than sitting but not as much as more strenuous physical activities such as walking.
How many calories do you burn standing at a desk?
According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard Health Publishing, sitting burns 80 calories/hour while standing, The number of calories burned was only slightly higher than while sitting — about 88 calories/hour.
Is standing better than sitting at a desk?
It is advised to balance sitting and standing times at your desk to enjoy the health benefits without feeling fatigued from prolonged standing.
What height should a standing desk be at?
The height may vary according to the user’s height. A good way to adjust your standing desk is to make sure it is at elbow height and you can work while having your arms at a 90-degree angle.
Does a standing desk help with carpal tunnel?
An ergonomically optimized workstation incorporating a standing desk can help with carpal tunnel but it cannot replace medical treatment.
Does a standing desk help with posture?
An adjustable standing desk will allow height changes to make your workstation’s ergonomics ideal for you to maintain the correct posture as you work.