Sit-stand desks have become a popular addition to offices around the world, from your own home office to commercial properties and shared office spaces. But they are so much more than just a trend – there are many benefits of standing desk furniture, for your physical and mental health. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the leading health benefits of using a sit-stand desk and why this style of desk is so popular.
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What is a standing desk and why should we use one?
Standing desks, or sit-stand desks, function as a regular desk but move up and down so you can work from a seated or standing position, depending on your mood. Modern standing desks come in a range of styles and operating mechanisms, from manually operated to electric desks that make it easy and quick to move between sitting and standing.
There is a growing body of research that suggests that using a standing desk can offer significant benefits for your health when used on a regular basis, as well as improving productivity and morale in an office setting.
Sitting for long periods can negatively impact your health, increasing the likelihood of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. As technology and medical advances lengthen our lifespans, it’s more important than ever that we take good care of our health and our bodies.
But exercising isn’t enough to negate lifestyle choices such as sitting too much throughout the day. Living a sedentary lifestyle, even if it’s out of our control such as by doing an office-based job, leads to numerous health concerns. It actively harms our health and the World Health Organisation even identifies a sedentary lifestyle as the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality.
When you consider that the average office worker sits for up to 40 hours a week, not to mention commuting and sitting down at the end of the day, it’s no surprise that we’re more at risk than ever of sedentary lifestyle-related health problems.
Sitting down for too long regularly could increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 90%, is linked to a higher risk of dementia and cancers, and is connected to an increased chance of early death. Using a sit-stand desk negates the effects of sitting too long, keeping your body moving more throughout the day.
Are there health concerns around standing?
It’s not just sitting for long periods that is cause for concern. Standing for too long also comes with its own set of risks to your health. Research suggests that too much standing can increase your risk of heart problems, with those who stand all day at an approximately doubled risk of developing heart disease compared to those who sit. One of the reasons this is the case is that standing leads to blood pooling in the legs which causes increased stress to the heart to pump it back around the body. Connected to this is an increased risk of varicose veins, cramping and clogged arteries, as well as painful joints.
A standing desk provides you with a balance between the two, helping to prevent the health concerns caused by standing or sitting for too long, while offering health benefits in the process. Here are some of the key health benefits from sit-stand desks and how you can make the transition to this type of office furniture.
A lower risk of obesity
Weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than your body burns, and consistently doing this over a long period of time. Likewise, if you consistently burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight.
You no doubt know that exercise is an effective way to burn calories, but actually it’s possible to incorporate calorie burning activities into your everyday routine by standing more. Compared to sitting down for an afternoon, standing for the equal amount of time can result in over 170 extra calories being burned.
Over the course of the week, using a sit-stand desk could help you burn nearly 1,000 additional calories which can prevent obesity and the related health concerns that weight gain can cause. But standing doesn’t just burn calories, it also changes your mindset. You’re more likely to walk more and take part in stretches or exercises while you’re standing, which help you burn even more calories over the course of your workday.
Lower blood sugar levels
The higher your blood sugar levels after a meal, the worse it is for your health, particularly if you’re someone at risk or diagnosed with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. But research has shown that standing for 180 minutes after lunch can reduce the blood sugar levels in the body by as much as 43%, compared to sitting down for the same period.
The study proved that the increase was due to standing rather than sitting, since both groups assessed took the same number of steps. The negative side effects of sitting after eating could explain why sedentary lifestyles are connected to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes amounting to an alarming 112%.
Postural problems are common in office workers, because sitting for long periods can encourage poor posture and slouching, leading to back and neck pain. Sitting puts pressure on the discs of the spine and compresses this area of the body, causing pain and discomfort. A standing desk with the right ergonomics to help you have the right posture when you’re working can help to prevent these issues and keep your posture straight.
If you’re standing regularly throughout the day, the right posture will become second nature to you, and you won’t be placing as much stress and pressure on your spine in the same way that sitting can. Keeping your monitor around 20-inches from your face, at a 20-degree angle, and your arms bent at 100-degree angles by your sides, will keep your wrists comfortably above the keyboard and your back as straight as possible.
Lower back pain
Just like poor posture, back pain is something that’s common with office workers who sit for long periods of time. But it’s not something that you have to simply accept as a part of the job. A comfortable chair with ample lumbar support and alternating between sitting and standing can effectively resolve any back pain you may be experiencing. It can also alleviate neck pain by putting less strain on this delicate area of the body.
It’s estimated by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases that 80% of people experience back pain at some point in their lives, but if minor posture adjustments don’t help, switching to a standing desk could resolve the problem. It keeps your body moving throughout the day and puts less stress and strain on the spine, so you can work comfortably.
A reduced risk of heart disease
Standing can help to keep your heart healthy and reduces the risk of heart disease, with studies showing that people who stand for longer periods throughout the day have around half the risk of heart disease-related deaths than those who sit. In fact, prolonged sedentary time on a regular basis is believed by experts to increase the risk of heart disease by as much as 147%.
Even exercising doesn’t make up for the negative effects of sitting for the whole day, so alternating between sitting and standing can help to keep your heart healthy and avoid the risks of heart disease that come with sitting for too long.
Improved wrist position
A common complaint with office workers is wrist pain, and anyone who has say typing at a keyboard for a long time will notice the discomfort that comes from your wrists being stuck at an awkward angle for too long. It can cause pain and stress on these joints, as well as muscular strain.
In fact, it can even exacerbate pinched nerves in the wrist which is a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Using a standing desk, even for just half the day, helps to keep your arms at a comfortable angle and this ergonomic position can improve your wrist pain and alleviates discomfort.
Keep circulation flowing
The human body was made to move and when we stand, our balance improves, our core strengthens, and our leg muscles get stronger. But in addition to this, our risk of blood clots forming in the legs is also reduced and our circulation improves. Sitting for too long, just as standing for too long, leads to blood pooling in the legs and this can increase the chances of a blood clot forming.
The best solution to this, to keep your circulation flowing correctly around the body, is to alternate between sitting and standing so you get the benefits of both and keep your cardiovascular health in check.
A happier mood
Experts believe that standing desks can have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing, reporting less stress and fatigue than people who stay seated throughout the entire workday. As a result of this, many people who use a sit-stand desk find that they have more energy throughout the day, and this has a positive influence on morale and general mood. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and a benefit of standing desks is that you can reduce low mood while also improving your physical fitness and health.
Standing could result in a longer lifespan
There’s a strong connection between increased sitting time and premature death, in large part because a sedentary lifestyle increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
To extend your lifespan and increase the chances of enjoying a long and healthy life, it’s important to move more throughout the day and alternating between sitting and standing is an efficient and highly effective way to keep your body moving.
While there’s no way to definitively prove whether there is a cause and effect of standing and a longer lifespan, it’s certainly true that standing and moving more can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses and diseases, something which can help to keep us healthier for longer.
An energy boost
One of the key benefits of standing desk furniture is that it encourages more movement throughout the day and gets us on our feet when we’d otherwise be sitting down. This encourages productivity and increases the chance of workers feeling energised, which has a knock-on effect to our mental health and morale. It even encourages workers to stay active throughout the rest of the day.
Even small movements can help you to feel more alert and focused, and anyone who has felt sluggish after sitting down for a long time will attest to this. Switching between standing and sitting gives you the best of both worlds and can enhance your feeling of enthusiasm and energy.
How to use a standing desk correctly
We’ve seen the benefits of a sit-standing desk and how it can help to alleviate some of the problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle. But how do you make the transition to a standing desk without causing another kind of discomfort to your legs and feet. There are ways, and these tips will help you to move to a sit-stand desk without putting stress on your body.
Alternate between standing and sitting regularly
Sitting for long periods comes with a host of health risks, leaving you vulnerable to poor posture, neck pain, poor circulation, low mood and energy, and a higher risk of chronic diseases. But so too does standing for too long, with its own set of health problems connected to it.
Finding the right balance is the key to reap the rewards of both sitting and standing, so dividing your day into blocks of sitting and standing will put less stress on your body, particularly when you’re new to using a sit-stand desk. Start off with small chunks of time of 15-20 minutes, and extend as you feel able to do so.
Make sure your desk is adjusted
A sit-stand desk needs to be adjusted to your own body in order for you to enjoy the ergonomic benefits. There are general guidelines you can follow to do this effectively, making sure that you’re not putting unnecessary stress and strain on your neck, back and eyes.
To work ergonomically, you will need to adjust the standing desk height to around elbow level and make sure that the angle between your elbows and the floor is around 90-degrees, with your arms in a neutral and comfortable position. You will then need to adjust your computer screen to sit around 20 inches from your face and at eye level so you’re not putting stress on your neck or eyes to see.
Make the most of standing desk accessories
There are accessories you can use to enhance your standing desk experience and make it more comfortable to stand for long periods. Standing can cause fatigue when you’re not used to doing so, so using an anti-fatigue mat can help reduce stress on the leg muscles by encouraging small muscle movements. These movements increase blood flow, keep muscle strain at bay and encourage a more comfortable work experience.
Take plenty of breaks
You need to rest your body while you’re working – it’s not all or nothing in either direction. The benefits of standing desks is that you have the option to quickly alternate between sitting and standing, so take advantage of that ability and alternate regularly to give your body a break.
But mental health is just as important and you need to take breaks from work generally, not just for your physical health. Step away from the desk at various points throughout the day, to rest and recharge your mind so you can come back to your desk feeling reinvigorated and ready to work.
It may help to take a stroll around the block on your lunch break or walk away from your desk for at least 10 minutes 3 times a day. Stretches at your desk can also help to put your mind and attention on something else, which is beneficial for focus and productivity, breaking up your work day and keeping your mind active. Anything from squats and calf raises to lunges and wall push-ups can help to keep your muscles moving.
It’s clear that a sedentary lifestyle has a negative impact on our physical, mental and metabolic health, so making the swap to a sit-stand desk to encourage more movement throughout the working day is an important lifestyle change to make. And with exercises
We offer a wide selection of sit-stand, height adjustable desks that can help you make this change and improve your health throughout the working day. Browse online or contact us for more information and a member of our team will be able to help you choose the right desk for your needs.