The Benefits Of A Standing Desk
The fact that prolonged periods of sitting is detrimental to our health is now widely accepted. It is common sense to see that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day is bad for a worker’s health, and research now even suggests that our typical routines of offsetting this with an hour or two of exercise after work is simply not enough.
Thus comes the standing desk craze – and it may be here to stay. More people are considering standing desk options in attempts to improve health and opportunities to be active throughout the workday, but these investments can be costly. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the key positive and negative points regarding the replacement of standard desks with standing options.
Reduced Risk of Health Problems
Multiple research studies have proved that sitting for prolonged periods of time (for many, that’s at least 5 hours) is associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and poor cardiovascular health. Further research even suggests that an hour of exercise after work will not cancel out the damage done by long periods of sitting.
This is mainly because sitting simply does not burn calories like standing or moving around does, meaning less energy is burned and muscles are used less – standing desks allow workers to move as they work, shifting weight between muscles and engaging a lot more of their body while working and reducing the impact on the body’s metabolic system.
Lower Mortality Risk
One Australian study found that over seven years, participants sitting more increase their overall risk of dying by 11%, whilst another concluded that by sitting for 6+ hours a day, participants increased their risk of death within 15 years by 40%! In contrast, a 2012 study found that if the average American sat for three hours less per day, they would increase their life expectancy by 2 years.
Studies showed that users of treadmill standing desks lost more weight than standing desks, although both categories lost more weight than sitting desk users. An increase in standing will mean an increase in calories burned per hour, so a little weight loss is likely!
Standing increases blood flow and allows you to naturally move your body more, encouraging an improved posture which in turn helps to tone muscles as they are constantly engaged and active, burning more calories. Good posture and an increase in movement often results in reports of an increase in energy and mood.
Increased Interaction with Colleagues
Standing reduces the visual block of cubicles or desk dividers, allowing employees to communicate with each other easier, often leading to more of a community feel and increased productivity levels. This is particularly applicable for those who work in art or design, and may need a large space to present items to other colleagues – making their own standing desk the perfect meeting point.
A standing desk is height adjustable, making it perfect for persons of all heights. Likewise, wheelchair users will know that a standard desk will not always suit their requirements in terms of the perfect position – whereas a height adjustable desk ensures those in wheelchairs can have the desk positioned to suit their own individual needs and their chair’s size if needed.
Lack of Proof
Although sitting has been associated with health problems, there still remains a lack of direct research between standing and an increase in health. In fact, prolonged periods of standing can lead to an increased risk of varicose veins or swollen feet/ legs. The current consensus is that finding a mix between the two, allowing for moderate activity and periods of rest is the ideal, but no set number can yet be agreed upon.
Investing in a standing desk – especially one that can be adjusted for both sitting and standing – is pricey. Cheaper DIY options are available, but in the workplace a cost is likely to be incurred, and the more people that want to try standing out, the higher the fee.
Aches & Pains
It can take time to adjust to standing for prolonged periods of time, and can lead to a totally new set of aches and pains. Wear comfortable shoes, and listen to your body – sit if your legs or feet start to ache. Some people recommend investing on a padded mat to stand on instead of a hard office floor too.
Whilst a standing work station allows for better communication with your co-workers, it also means you are more exposed, and conversations can be heard by all. This loss of privacy can lead to a decrease in productivity if employees are easily distracted.