More and more studies are coming to the same conclusion that sitting down for long periods of time is bad for your health. In fact, people who spend a lot of time sitting down throughout the day have a higher risk of serious conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition to this, you burn very little calories when you’re sat down, with more studies linking sitting for long periods to obesity and weight gain. For office workers, this can cause serious problems because they need to sit down for the majority of the day in order to do their job. The good news is that standing desks are becoming a more popular option for office workers who want to make sure that they can counteract the health risks of office work.
What is a Standing Desk?
A standing desk or stand-up desk is a desk that allows you to comfortably stand while working. Most modern standing desk versions, like this standing desk from Branch Furniture, are adjustable, allowing you to change the height of the desk easily and even switch between sitting and standing if your legs get tired.
While research is still in the early stages, so far, results seem to suggest that using a standing desk can be beneficial for health, and may even help you be more productive. At the very least, using a standing desk can be useful for avoiding the negative health effects of staying seated for too long. Here are some of the main benefits of investing in a standing desk.
Reduce Weight Gain and Obesity Risk
Weight gain is caused by taking in more calories that you are burning, to put it simply. On the other hand, if you are burning more calories than you are taking in, you will lose weight. Exercise is the most effective way to burn calories quickly, but standing instead of sitting can also have an impact. When compared with an afternoon of working while sat down, standing to work has been shown to burn 170 more calories. Each week, that’s nearly one thousand extra calories burned just by choosing to stand to work instead of sit each afternoon.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
The first proposal of the idea that standing is better for your health was all the way back in 1953, when a study found that bus conductors who stood up all day had half the risk of dying from heart disease compared to their bus driver colleagues who were seated all day. Since then, scientists have conducted further studies to develop a much deeper understanding of how sitting down for long periods impacts the health of our hearts. Prolonged sitting is thought to increase the risk of developing heart disease by up to a massive 147%. In fact, even exercising intensely for an hour is thought to not be enough to make up for the negative health effects.
Improve Energy Levels and Mood
Studies suggest that standing desks appear to influence mood and overall well-being in a positive way. One study, that lasted for seven weeks, found that participants who used a standing desk reported feeling less fatigue and stress compared to those who remained seated for the entire work day. And, almost 90% of the participants who used a standing desk reported that they felt more energetic throughout the day. These findings are in line with further research on mental health and sitting, which has linked prolonged time spent sat down with an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
The health risks are increased when your blood sugar levels are high after eating a meal, especially for people who have type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. One small study with ten office workers found that standing for 180 minutes after eating lunch reduced the spike in blood sugar by over 40% compared to sitting for the same period of time. Both groups of participants took the same number of steps, which indicated that the reduced spike was a result of standing rather than moving around.
Reduce Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common issues that office workers who sit down all day will face. While this may sometimes be caused by using a chair that is not ergonomic or supportive, it might be simply due to sitting for long periods. Several studies have been carried out with employees who suffer with long-term back pain to determine if using a standing desk could provide some relief. Participants reported up to over 30% improvement in their lower back after using a standing desk for several weeks. The CDC also published another study which found that using a sit-stand desk reduced upper back and neck pain by more than 50% after just four weeks of use.
Studies have found that there is a strong link between prolonged periods of staying sat down and a shorter lifespan. This is not surprising considering that there is a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and a higher risk of conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. One review of eighteen different studies found that people who sit the most are at an almost 50% greater risk of dying early compared to the people who sit the least. Another study suggested that reducing sitting time to three hours per day could raise the life expectancy of the average American citizen by two years.
Be More Productive
One common concern that people have about using a standing desk is that it might hinder daily work tasks such as typing. But while standing up to work when you are used to sitting down is likely to take an adjustment period, so far, standing desks do not appear to have any significant impacts on completing typical work tasks successfully. One study with sixty young office workers found that using a standing desk for four hours each day did not lead to any typing errors or slow typing down. And, standing can improve your mood, leading researchers to suggest that using a standing desk is more likely to help you be more productive rather than get in the way of your productivity.
Whether you’re making suggestions for changes to your workplace or are setting up your own home office to work from home, there are many reasons to consider investing in a standing desk. More and more office workers are getting standing desks since reducing the amount of time that you spend sat down can have many benefits for your health and wellbeing including improved mental health, reduced risk of weight gain and obesity, less back pain, and a reduced risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. If you plan to start using a standing desk, experts recommend starting out with splitting your time 50-50 between sitting and standing. You may also want to be ready for the fact that working standing up can take a little bit of time to get used to if you would normally spend the entire working day at your seat.