Standing desks have become popular solutions to reduce the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.
Many people tout the health benefits of standing desk, calling it a solution to prevent the effects of sitting too long. While a sedentary lifestyle is truly bad for health, is it true that a standing desk solves all the problems?
As the name suggests, a standing desk is constructed so you can work while standing. Unlike what many people think, standing desks are not new inventions.
Historical figures such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, and Vladimir Nabokov were known for using such desk.
Before the health craze started, standing desks were mainly used for specific tasks. Architects and designers, for example, often use these desks to get better positions when drawing.
When our lifestyle started to involve more sitting than before, people started to popularize standing desks for their supposed health benefits.
What health risks will you get from sitting too long? Is having a standing desk at your workplace beneficial? Do standing desks fulfill the hype? Here is everything you need to know about standing desk trend and health.
Health Risks from Sitting Too Long
Doctors have long cited the negative effects of sitting too long. An 18th-century health guide by Italian doctor Bernardino Ramazzini mentioned how odd sitting postures could cause diseases among office workers.
Sitting too long reduces your physical activities and lowers calorie burning. It also reduces the activities of muscles and specific hormonal glands.
Some common health risks associated with sitting too long include:
- Heart diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Back pain
Sitting too long increases the risks of developing bad postures. People who sit almost all day also tend to have a lower energy level. They get tired more easily than their active counterparts. Experts even associate sitting too long with reduced longevity.
In 2015, the World Health Organization released several recommendations for workplaces to reduce the negative impacts of sitting too long. One of them was providing adjustable desks for office workers to reduce the hours spent sitting.
Benefits from Using Standing Desk
There are several alleged health benefits from using a standing desk. They include:
1. Reducing the Risk of Back Pain
Back pain can happen when your backbone and back muscles are strained or stressed for a long period of time. Long sitting (which may also include bad posture) can cause chronic back pain after a while.
Using a standing desk reduces the pressure and strain on your back. It also helps you to alternate the positions when necessary.
2. Reducing Anxiety
Moving around and being active are common suggestions to reduce anxiety symptoms. Physical activities reduce the “flight or fight” response in the brain, making you more tolerant toward anxiety symptoms. A standing desk increases your tendency to move around, which makes you more active.
3. Keeping Good Posture
When you spend hours sitting, you may hunch without realizing it, especially when you are trying to focus.
Working while standing giving you less risk in sitting with hunched. You are less likely to hunch if you stand in front of a desk adjusted to your full height.
4. Reducing Obesity Risk
When you are standing, you tend to spend more calorie than when sitting. You may also find yourself moving around more frequently.
Standing during standard office hours can burn an extra 150 to 170 calories, which are great numbers to add to your calorie-burning efforts.
5. Keeping Positive Mood
When you are standing, you are more likely to stay active and move around. The higher activity level than sitting is great to regulate your mood.
Since physical activities encourage the release of dopamine, you can stay in a positive mood longer when standing than when sitting.
6. Reducing Heart Disease Risk
Reducing the risk of heart disease is probably one of the most “hyped” benefits of a standing desk. This idea has been tossed around since 1953, and several studies have backed up this claim.
A person who spends most of his or her time sitting at work may have a 147 percent higher risk of developing heart disease.
7. Increasing Focus and Productivity
Being active can increase your focus, which in turn improves productivity. Using a standing desk for two to six months in a row increases productivity for 20 to 50 percent.
Standing also compels you to be more active, which improves the blood circulation and refreshes the brain activities. You can even increase the focus by alternating between standing, sitting, and walking (or generally moving around).
8. Increasing Longevity
The “increasing longevity” benefit has something to do with the calorie-burning, blood circulation increase, better posture, and (possibly) more positive mood. All of these contribute to your general health and therefore the longevity.
While all these health benefits still require further studies, you can definitely get healthier impacts than if you sit all day long.
9. Reducing the Level of Blood Sugar
Sitting for a very long period on a regular basis can increase your blood sugar level, especially after lunch.
A 2014 study published at the US National Library of Medicine revealed that working in standing position for three hours after lunch reduced the blood sugar level by 43 percent. The result was compared to subjects who sat and work for hours after a meal.
10. Can Standing Desk Reduce Cancer Risks?
“Standing desk reduces cancer risk” is probably one of the boldest claims to hear from this product. However, you also cannot dismiss it.
According to Alpa Patel, expert and strategic director of American Cancer Society, researches about sitting and standing desk in their relation to cancer are still new. Therefore, there are still many things to uncover from the upcoming studies.
Several studies have found possible links between prolonged sitting and higher cancer risks, including prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
Scientists still cannot find the direct relations, but there are possibilities of linking them with C-reactive protein. This is a biomarker that contributes to the development of cancerous cells. C-reactive protein is often found in people who sit for a long time every day.
While using a standing desk may not directly affect your cancer risk, you can still get the benefits. There is nothing wrong in using a standing desk, but don’t think of it as the only solution to reduce the risk of cancer.
Risks of Standing Too Long
Just because you use a standing desk doesn’t mean that you will not experience health problems. Standing too long also brings negative impacts to your health. The common risks include:
- Back pain
- Stiff shoulders and neck
- Joint pain
- Sore feet and swelling
- Varicose veins
- Rheumatic disease
Health risks from standing too long is a common complaint among workers like bank tellers. However, these risks can also happen to you from using a standing desk without a break.
The Right Methods to Use Standing Desk
Are there any “right” and “wrong” ways to use a standing desk? Yes, in fact. A standing desk may be helpful and provide health benefits, but there are ergonomic aspects to consider. Just like other furniture items, a standing desk can make you exhausted if you don’t use it properly.
Here are several tips for using a standing desk properly and getting the full benefits.
Adjust for Full Ergonomic Position
When adjusting the height of a standing desk, make sure you can stand fully without having to hunch to work. The monitor must be at least 20 to 28 inches (around 50 to 70 cm).
The screen must be tilted upward around 10 to 20-degree. When you work, your elbows must be in a 90-degree parallel position with the floor.
Add Supporting Pads for the Wrist
If you continuously work with a mouse, the hand that holds it may get tired easily. You should have a cushioned pad to support your wrist.
This way, your arm doesn’t “float” when you are moving around the mouse. The pad can provide significant support and reduce the tiredness on the arm.
Stand on Anti-fatigue Mat
Anti-fatigue mats are made of materials that can provide an extra cushioning for people who stand in a long time. Common materials include rubber, wood, and vinyl.
Any companies that have standing desks should also have anti-fatigue mats for the workers. The mat can reduce the pressure on your feet when you are standing.
Alternate between Standing and Sitting
Switch your position every two hours. Adjust the desk so you can sit and stand alternatively. Don’t forget to adjust the position of your eyes, wrists, and hands so that you can work comfortably in any position.
Move Regularly during the Day
Never get stuck in one static position for more than one hour. Make sure to do some light movements occasionally.
These movements includes moving your legs back and forth, stretching your arms, rolling your neck, and even stretching your legs if there is enough space. Alternatively, walk around for a couple of minutes before returning to your work position.
Drink Enough Water
Standing all day can be more exhausting than sitting. Don’t forget to drink water regularly to avoid dehydration. Pay attention to signs, such as dizziness, nausea, dry throat, and fatigue.
Remember, everything is about balancing your body. Even with a standing desk, you still need to make sure that you position your body properly and move frequently.
What Standing Desks Should You Buy?
Now that you understand the basic, make sure to choose the right standing desk for your convenience. Here are some of the most recommended standing desks in 2019 that you can keep using until years later.
ApexDesk Elite is a recommended standing desk if you need a large desktop surface. The largest version has a 71-inch (180 cm) of desk size, giving you an ample space to work.
Last update on 2021-08-13 / Affiliate links
The lifting capacity is up to 100 kg, with a smooth mechanism that makes it easier for you to switch positions between sitting and standing. Because of the large desktop size, the lifting mechanism may be a bit slow.
Uplift V2 is a “standard” standing desk with relatively good quality. The desk has a motorized mechanism, but it is not so suitable for a tall person or heavy load.
Last update on 2021-08-13 / Affiliate links
The desk can be a little wobbly if you raise it too high, but it is enough for a regular desk job without heavy, fancy equipment. The motor mechanism is smooth, and it immediately stops when hitting something.
Varidesk ProDesk 48 Electric
Varidesk ProDesk is a great standing desk for tall users, even for those standing as tall as 6 feet and 6 inches (around 1.9 m).
The design has a crossbar mechanism between the legs, which ensure stability when the desk is raised to the maximum height.
Last update on 2022-02-10 / Affiliate links
Varidesk ProDesk is also among the easiest standing desks to assemble. The desktop size is 49 inches (around 120 cm), so the space size is adequate.
Fully Jarvis Bamboo
Fully Jarvis Bamboo comes from the high-end shelves, with a beautiful bamboo desktop surface.
Last update on 2022-02-10 / Affiliate links
The bamboo is harvested from groves treated without pesticide. The frame is suitable for tall people up to 7 inches (around 2 m) high. The desk can also hold the weight up to 150 kg.
Stir Kinetic Desk M1
Stir Kinetic Desk M1 is a “smart” standing desk, which can record your specifications. The desk has beautifully curved elements in its design, making it almost futuristic looking.
Last update on 2020-09-04 / Affiliate links
Stir Kinetic Desk M1 is connected to a cloud system that records your preferences. You can control everything through a small LCD touchscreen. However, the desktop size is just around 59.5 inches (around 150 cm).
FlexiSpot Crank Height Adjustable Desk
FlexiSpot is a manual desk frame, which makes it the cheapest option of the bunch. You can make a simple DIY desktop to fit the frame or ask the supplier/retailer if they also sell a separate desktop in a similar size.
This is a practical option for home workers who have small desk load and don’t mind a little DIY project.
Last update on 2022-05-19 / Affiliate links
These products are among the newest in the 2019 catalogues, but you can always browse different products that match your preferences. Don’t forget to measure things like your height, office tool load, and needs for certain specs.
Sitting too long is bad for your health, and you need to balance it with a standing position and occasional movements.
A standing desk is not a “magical” health tool, but it helps you to be more active and less sedentary.
Scientists are still trying to find the clear health benefits of standing desk, but there are indications that this desk offers positive impacts. Just make sure to use it the right way, and choose the best desk to support your work.