It’s no secret sitting too much is bad for your health. The correlation between living a sedentary lifestyle and heart disease, dementia, and weight gain is strong.
If your work requires you to be on a computer all day, there’s a good chance sitting is unavoidable. But, aside from getting regular exercise and taking several breaks during your workday, there are other ways you can negate the health effects of working a desk job.
Enter the standing desk.
As employers strive to build better work environments, standing desks have risen in popularity. Maybe you’ve even wondered if you should invest in one for your work or home office.
Let’s explore what’s great about standing desks, as well as how to sit (and stand) more healthily.
Who Benefits from Using a Standing Desk?
Standing desks were made for those of us who work on a computer for a good portion — or all — of our day. Although you may be able to get away with sitting all day without feeling repercussions in the short term, a couple of decades of a sedentary lifestyle can catch up with you.
The good news is: Being on your feet can offset many of the negative effects of “desk work.”
So, who benefits most from standing desks?
Those at a higher risk for certain health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, or back and neck pain, may want to consider investing in a standing desk to lower these risks. (Talk to your doctor first.)
Even if you don’t have any immediate health issues related to a sedentary lifestyle, studies demonstrate that standing desks increase productivity among users.
In a Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health study, researchers surveyed standing desk users to learn that they were 46% more productive than colleagues who didn’t use standing desks.
Types of Standing Desks
If you’re in the market for a standing desk, there are many options available to you. Here are a few.
Static Standing Desk
This type of standing desk is basically a desk with tall legs. It’s not adjustable but it may be a great option for employees in a coworking environment. You won’t have a choice but to stand at this desk because it doesn’t move!
Mechanical Adjustable Desk
It may be a bit more work to crank a mechanically adjustable desk into position, just as it’s a bit more work to adjust an office chair. This extra work might motivate you to remain standing.
Electric Adjustable Desk
With the press of a button, this desk turns into a standing model. These models are highly popular and convenient because they easily switch between standing and sitting.
A converter will turn your regular desk into a standing workstation. This could be a good option if you’re tight on space or don’t want to get rid of your current desk.
The Pros and Cons of Standing Desks
As with any change, switching to a standing desk has pros and cons.
Standing Desk Pros
- Reduced back and neck pain: Standing more during the day can help reduce back pain.
- Better circulation: Some people experience better circulation when they can sit, stand, or are easily able to switch between the two during the day.
- Improved heart health: Being more active can support your heart health and standing more often can reduce health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
- More calories burned: You burn more calories when you stand, so using a standing desk will help you stay active and boost your metabolism.
- Productivity: As mentioned before, some studies show that standing desks lead to increased productivity.
Standing Desk Cons
- Vein problems: Being on your feet for long periods of time may exacerbate vein issues. Standing for too long can cause blood to collect at your feet, which can lead to varicose veins.
- Leg and foot pain: Although using a standing desk may relieve your neck and back of pressure, you may transfer this pressure to your legs and feet when you’re on your feet all day.
- Poor posture: Standing isn’t always a cure for poor posture. If you don’t stand properly at your standing desk, you may experience more pain in your neck since your monitor will be farther away from your eyes.
Proper Ways to Use a Standing Desk
If you’re considering a standing desk, keep these tips in mind to optimize your ergonomics. Bonus: Many of these tips are also applicable to how you sit.
- Keep your monitor at eye level: Whether you’re sitting or standing, positioning your monitor at eye level prevents your neck from straining too much. You may need to get a stand for your monitor if it’s too low.
- Keep your desk at elbow height: To avoid straining your muscles in both sitting and standing positions, make sure the height of your desk lands at your elbows.
- Get a foot mat: Proper foot support is crucial for standing. Consider placing an anti-fatigue mat under your workstation.
- Don’t lock your knees: Locking your knees or maintaining other forms of bad posture can lead to weaker support muscles, poor blood flow, and other injuries.
- Try standing for at least 15 minutes every hour: You don’t have to be on your feet for eight hours out of the gate. Try starting with 10-15 minutes every hour and working up your tolerance so you can stand longer
The Bottom Line
Depending on your needs, a standing desk could be a convenient addition to your office that benefits your health.
Remember to take care of yourself outside of the office too, by eating healthily, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly. All of these habits will make it easier to stand while working and help you live a more active lifestyle.
Looking for more helpful tips to optimize your life? Sign up for our newsletters and get curated content from our coaches, advisors, and editors, sent to your inbox weekly. We’ll also keep you in the loop when we host events and workshops.