Originally Posted On: 8 Benefits Of Standing Desks Investigated: Are They Worth It? (standupdesk.org)
So standing desks or sit stand desks or even adjustable height desks (so many names!), have obviously become a staple of many homes and offices throughout the world.
There must be a reason for that right?
Chances are if you’re lucky enough to have stumbled upon this post, you’re considering a stand up desk and are trying to figure out if they’re worth it.
Fair enough we say! Let’s have a look at the benefits.
As soon as you buy a stand up desk, your metabolism shoots through the roof and you start burning 700 calories an hour before it even arrives at your door!
No of course not. But when you are standing at your desk, are you are actually going to burn more calories instead of sitting?
The answer is yes!
No huge surprise there, but how much are we talking about?
Sources differ when comparing calories burned while sitting versus standing.
A study has found that you can burn almost 1000 extra calories per week by avoiding sitting. That’s about 3 cheeseburgers, not bad.
However, there has been a more recent study, claiming that calories burnt is more like 88/hour when standing, vs 80/hour when sitting. So if we can do some maths, 4 hours of using a standing desk results in about 32 additional calories burnt per day and 160 calories for the standard 8 hour working week.
That’s only half a cheeseburger burnt for the week! But thinking long term over the course of the year and years to come, this can all add up, reduce weight gain & improve public health generally.
So exactly how effective being upright during work with a stand up desk is for weight loss or burning calories is so far not overly exciting. However, we can see that there is definitely a small increase in energy expenditure & caloric burn.
This benefits somewhat builds on the previous. It’s been found that office workers who use sit stand desks or work while standing, have been able to lower their blood sugar levels.
This was most noticeable after eating, which makes sense. When your body brings in calories while sitting, you’re in rest mode and so you are less likely to use the sugar in your system.
When upright, since your slightly more active – your body has more of a chance of using up that sugar and so reducing your overall levels.
There are obviously many different variables when looking at back and neck pain, however some people have found that using a sit stand desk can reduce their back pain.
There is a well known study called the CDC ‘Take A Stand‘ project which looked into many of the benefits of standing during work. As part of this study, 50% of standing desk users reported their back pain has been reduced.
This makes sense as we are less likely to be victims of poor posture and slouching when we sit. We also engage our core a little more while upright, which can help (in a minor way) to strengthen support muscles around the lower back.
The flip side is, you must have everything ergonomically set up to avoid hunching while standing, otherwise this may just create different type of back and neck issues. This is where height adjustable desks really come in handy of course.
A balanced day standing and sitting can help create a more balanced body, less prone to injury from static and sedentary sitting.
It goes without saying hopefully that if you do have back and neck pain, that you should get medical advice from a professional for your specific case & they can advise whether or not you should be using a standing desk.
Here at standupdesk.org, we have often felt the effects of a heavy lunch and being seated in a comfortable chair. Meaning, we get a little bit sleepy and can find it hard to concentrate because our body is in digestion mode!
When upright, this groggy and sleepy feeling is a little less noticeable as you body is more active. 71% of people who used standing desks said they felt more focused than when they were seated.
Moving from prolonged sitting for several hours a day, to sitting and standing in equal measure during the day can help boost your ability to concentrate for long periods.
This one is a little counter intuitive, surely you’d feel more relaxed when sitting down right? I mean just look how happy the people are above!
The reason that 33% of people report feeling less stressed during while being upright, is because you’re more likely to engage in small consistent movements and casual stretched. When you move around a little bit, your body has the chance to shake off some of that stress and fatigue, that otherwise tends to build up with you while you spend time sitting in a sedentary way.
The way to ‘up the anti’ with stress reduction, is to engage in a little planned stretching and deep breathing. You can set a timer on your computer every hour or two hours to just to do a 30 second stretch and 30 seconds of deep breathing.
Standing up will help you stay relaxed throughout the day & reduce sitting time. But really, depending on who makes your day difficult – you may need more than stretching! But that’s what after work drinks are for right?
Most people are aware that living a sedentary lifestyle, ie sitting for long periods of time, can come at a cost for your health as it can create some issues. Some examples of this are:
Now the above are worst case scenarios and you have to be really not moving much at all. Unfortunately the health crisis has forced this kind of restrictions on all of us. We go from our beds, to the kitchen and then sit at our desk or couch. Then it’s back to bed!
In these times it’s especially important to move around and get some exercise where you can.
Standing while work at a standing desk throughout the day can help to offset some of the negative side effects of typically sedentary work. You can find some great standing desk systems or desk converters to improve your home office set up.
Look, if you hate your job, you hate your job. Being upright while working isn’t going to make your boss a nicer person, it may make it easier for you to quickly walk out the door though!
But the basis for this benefit is due mostly to attitude & mood. At the end of week 7 of the ‘Take a stand project’, 62% of people reported feeling happier throughout the work day.
This could be due to an increased (admittedly small increase) amount of endorphins being released into the bloodstream due to standing and moving around. The more you move, the more endorphins.
So the takeaway is, you may not love your job more – but you may feel a little happier while you do it if your standing. If you’re an employer, this could be a way to boost morale, mood and satisfaction slightly.
Many studies report users feeling more creative while standing versus sitting. This again could be for a multitude of reasons, perhaps standing it make sit easier to converse with a coworker and generate ideas.
We do know our brains tend to function better when we are in an active state, so this increased function can lead to better ideation and communication. If you’ve ever been stuck in a rut and ended up going for a walk, sometimes the idea just comes to you. Changes in scenery, aswell as changes in your body can help facilitate this little brainwave moments.
Will you become so creative while working at your sit stand desk that you single handedly resolve world hunger and the energy crisis? Probably not, but hey maybe. But maybe more realistically you may solve that little work issue faster, you may get to that email quicker or remember something that can help you move through the day a little faster.
It’s recommended that you stand for 1 hour, for every 1 to 2 hours of work, to get most of the benefits of standing desks. This is because being upright for the full 8 hours can create issues all on it’s own. The main idea behind sit stand desks is that they promote movement, rather than standing.
So if you have an 8 hour work day ahead of you, aiming for 3 or maybe 4 hours of that work day to be upright would be sufficient. That first hour may be best between arrival and lunchtime, then you can eat lunch, go for a walk. The next two hours would then be directly after lunch and around the 3pm/4pm mark.
The other option is to break the day up into 30 minute intervals, which some people prefer.
That way you can take advantage of the active benefits of standing desks while digesting your food etc, so you can reduce blood sugar levels. This is where a sit stand desk or desktop converter obviously comes in handy.
While the actual negative effects of using a standing desk all day are hard to find in current research, using a standing desk all day is not advised. The perfect day should be a mix of sitting and standing.
We are aiming to get ourselves into ‘active’ mode during work, if you are stationary while standing all day, then you may end up developing a different set of issues than sitting in one spot, ie you may get neck and back pain in different spots!
That’s why the above 1 hour standing for every 2 hours sitting is recommended & always keep in mind that the benefits of a standing desk is to encourage activity and movement, rather than standing itself.
The answer to that from recent research seems to be a resounding yes, with small health gains in many different areas from neural activity to weight loss. But take it all with a grain of salt. The main idea is to get your body moving and avoid sedentary habits.
Standing desks are a great way to facilitate this, but try to integrate some small exercises into your day, in addition to standing. A quick back stretch, maybe do a little squat and stretch out your legs, a few deep breaths and continue working.
Then of course eat healthy food and get the right amount of sleep!
To answer whether or not you should get a standing desk, you just need to decide if the benefits are worth if for you. Some people don’t have to spare funds to afford a standing desk, in this case you could consider a standing desk converter, which are generally a bit cheaper.
But overall, if you want to make the way you work a little bit healthier and more active, then yes you should get a standing desk.
This depends on what your expectations are. If you are hoping a standing desk will drastically improve your health and well being to the point that you can’t recognize yourself, then you may be disappointed.
The benefits of standing at a sit stand desk are that they promote activity and movement, they also do create many small health benefits which compound over time. Unfortunately most of us a strapped to these things Monday to Friday for most of our lives, so why not make it the healthiest version possible.
One of the advantages of sit stand desks is that they remove the possibility for you to be slouching on a chair for a portion of the day. They force you to be more physical, activate your core and many balancing muscles you otherwise wouldn’t be using. So while you will still need to stand with good posture at your desk, breaking up the static or sedentary slouching will help improve physical posture.
So now hopefully you’ve got a pretty thorough idea of the benefits of a standing desk. Are they the most exciting thing in the world & going to completely revolutionize your world? Well that’s up to you.
We thing the main benefits of sit stand desks are that they encourage activity, reduce time spent sitting in poor conditions and can have rather large cumulative benefits over your working life. We think if you look back in 10 years after having a sit stand desk or standing desk, you will be glad that you did. However they are most beneficial when combined with light exercise, like walking and stretching.
If you would like to have a look at the options available, have a look around our product reviews which should help out.
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