Standing desks have become a trend in the last few years. You may have heard reports from a few years ago that they were outselling standard desks. They are designed to provide a comfortable surface for work while standing. Their popularity stems mostly from the notion that sitting is deadly. You may have heard some refer to sitting as “the new smoking.” Today, there are still many who believe that sitting for work is less healthy than standing.
Despite their recent trendiness, standing desks are not new. They have been used throughout history as a way to enhance focus and provide better posture. Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Jefferson are among the historical figures who have preferred to stand while they worked, according to Bloomberg.com (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2012-06-29/stand-up-desks-10-options-reviewed).
The truth is that standing can reduce the risk of certain diseases associated with sitting, such as obesity, diabetes, and possibly cancer.
Harvard Health Blog states that (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-truth-behind-standing-desks-2016092310264), blood sugar levels return to normal in less time on workdays when a person spends more time on their feet.
That said, a standing desk is only worth it if you avoid the main pitfall of using a standing desk, which is standing still for too long.
The Health Effects of Standing
While being sedentary for most of the day is dangerous, standing by itself does not guarantee good health. Too much of anything can result in health problems. The key to preventing issues is to move around instead of standing in one place. Standing still over long periods can cause joint aches and even backaches.
The other problems that can result from excessive standing include the development of varicose veins. They are caused by the fact that the increased blood flow from standing damages one-way valves in the veins. The damaged valves cause blood to pool in the legs, and the veins become enlarged as a result of the pooling.
When it comes to obesity, standing is more beneficial than sitting, but the benefits are limited. Studies show that standing does not burn that much more energy than sitting. The additional energy use amounts to about 8 calories per hour, so don’t expect to lose weight just by standing. However, it can have other benefits, like the fact that it improves posture.
Because of the problems that can come from sitting constantly, the best way to take a break from a standing desk may be to go for a walk. Not only will walking burn calories, but the increased blood flow may also have cognitive benefits as it may improve the brain’s blood supply. Some studies suggest that using a standing desk may lessen fatigue and increase energy.
Treadmill desks are an option, and makers claim that they allow you to walk while doing work, but some users claim that these desks make it hard to concentrate.
Using a standing desk doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t ever sit again to work. Your ability to perform tasks that require fine motor skills may be improved if you do them while sitting rather than when standing. When you do sit, it is important to do it correctly. Your back should be straight, your elbows should be tucked into your body, and your eyes level with the top of the screen. When you slump, this curves your spine.
It is a good idea to slowly increase the amount of time that you spend standing instead of moving from sitting all the time to standing all the time.
How to Use a Standing Desk
To get the benefits of a standing desk, it will need to be the right height. For example, the top edge of your computer screen should be even with your eyes. If the screen is too low, the tendency will be to hunch, which results in rounded shoulders similar to the curved spine from slumping in a chair. You should also be able to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle when typing. In other words, the right height will vary depending on the height of the user. The options for adjusting the height of the work surface can range from using piles of books to getting an adjustable desk that you can raise or lower according to your preference.
What is Underfoot is Important
If the floor under your feet has no give, it can cause joint pain. Bare concrete, tile, or hardwood flooring can cause problems over time. Matted and flattened carpet over a concrete floor won’t help. You can limit the negative effects of standing for long periods by using a standing mat. The importance of cushioning under your feet means that your footwear will be important as well. You should choose shoes that are suitable for long periods of standing. Running shoes can be excellent footwear solutions for standing workers. You should also consider shoes preferred by nurses and chefs. Using anti-fatigue mats can help.
No one is sure about why sitting is as bad it is for health. They just know that it is a signal for various health problems and causes circulation issues. While there isn’t enough evidence to say conclusively that working while standing at desks is better for us than sitting, the evidence that we do have certainly suggests that there are benefits along with a few drawbacks. You can mitigate those drawbacks by moderating standing time and/or using anti-fatigue mats and the right footwear.