It wasn’t too long ago that standing desks seemed like a short-term fad, but it’s become clear that this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The sedentary lifestyle, so common among office workers, is fast becoming one of the most prevalent health concerns in the modern workplace. With the risk of obesity, chronic pain, and disease perfectly clear, it’s no wonder workers are implementing ergonomic controls into their office spaces, with the office standing desk quickly becoming one of the most popular. Although before you run to the nearest office supply store, let’s review the benefits of standing desks and what you should be looking for.
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Is Sitting Really So Bad?
The human body was made to move. The biggest problem with modern office environments is the sedentary lifestyle they foster. It’s no surprise that sitting all day burns very few calories, but this lack of physical activity accumulated over years can lead to an increased risk of chronic illness such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death. One of the major benefits of a standing desk is that they make it easier to overcome inactivity.
What is a Standing Desk?
This one may seem self-explanatory, but with so many options on the market it never hurts to throw in a little definition. A standing desk, or sometimes referred to as a sit/stand desk, is a desk that can be raised and lowered to allow the user to work from either a seated or standing position. This adjustability can be helpful even when working from a seated position as it accommodates an individual’s unique height and dimensions.
- Reduced Back Pain
Using a standing desk may help those who experience back pain while sitting. Conventional office chairs have been shown to place undue pressure on the hips and spine, which can result in pain after a long day at the office. Standing with correct posture reduces this pressure and may help with back pain.
- Increased Blood Sugar Regulation
Preliminary studies of office workers showed that standing after a meal resulted in a reduced spike in blood sugar levels. Large spikes in blood sugar have been shown to be bad for your health, especially in individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
- Increased Productivity
Sitting and remaining in one position for extended periods of time can cause drowsiness and impair focus. Using a standing desk has been shown to encourage movement, changing positions throughout the day, and keeping office workers engaged and productive.
- More Opportunities to Move
They say variety is the spice of life, but nowhere is this more true than when it comes to physical movement. Using a standing desk to break up extended periods of sitting is better for your body. Standing at your workstation may also make it easier to step away and stretch, grab a drink of water, or move around the office.
The Cons – and What to Do About Them
- Leg and Foot Pain
Just as sitting for too long may cause muscle stiffness and tension, so too will standing. If you’re standing for 8 hours straight on a hard surface, you may experience leg and foot pain. The solution is to wear comfortable, well-padded shoes or implement a cushioned mat to stand on.
- Varicose Veins
Being on your feet for long periods of time could cause blood to collect in your legs, which may lead to varicose veins. Your odds of developing varicose veins are increased if you stand for more than 6 hours a day, which can be avoided by taking breaks or alternating the periods in which you sit or stand at your desk.
- Not a Replacement for Exercise
We’d love to tell you that a standing desk means you can cancel your gym membership, but this is simply not the case. While standing may burn an extra 8 calories per hour when compared to sitting, it really isn’t enough to neglect taking active breaks and implementing an exercise regimen into your weekly routine.
- Not Suited for Every Task
Standing is great for answering calls, keeping up your energy over zoom meetings, and responding to emails. However, tasks such as drawing, writing, or using software that requires fine movements may be easier to do in a seated position.
As with anything, your tools won’t do all the work for you. The key to a healthy ergonomic setup is to maintain proper posture and take frequent breaks to both move and rest no matter the workstation you choose. A good standing desk can be expensive but there are always offers available like the back to school sale that starts near the end of the summer.
So, should you make the switch to a standing desk? Considering the health implications of a sedentary lifestyle, it might be worth implementing a sit/stand desk into your office space. Standing desks give you the option to work from a different position and make it easier to step away from your desk to stretch, get in a few steps, and break up your workday. Ultimately, it’s all about making it easier to fit movement into your routine, and who doesn’t want to make their life a little easier?