As people are becoming more aware of their fitness levels and ways in which they can stay healthy, standing desks have increased in popularity because those who have previously had to sit behind a desk all day can now choose to stand instead, which feels like a more active option.
There has been plenty of scientific research on the advantages and disadvantages of standing desks and whether using one has more health benefits than sitting down. Hence, people know exactly what to expect if they decide to make the switch.
Several health risks are associated with prolonged sitting periods, such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even early death in extreme cases. In addition, people who spend all day sitting behind a desk can be more prone to obesity due to burning fewer calories than those on the move.
Although standing may not burn as many calories as walking does, it has been found that standing for an afternoon can burn up to 210 more calories than sitting, which would add up to almost 1000 calories a week if someone were to use a standing desk every afternoon.
Standing desks have also been shown to help reduce lower and upper back pain and neck pain, commonly associated with sitting down all day.
Opting for a standing desk can give you better posture over time as standing up will help to improve your core strength, and you are likely to feel less tired throughout the day as it is far more challenging to become sleepy while on your feet.
Although there are plenty of advantages associated with standing desks, there are some disadvantages to consider before you decide to change how you work.
Getting used to a standing desk can take time. People using standing desks can suffer from back, leg and foot pain due to putting pressure on these body parts for extended periods.
Standing at your desk all day is not the same as exercising, so just because you are not sitting for hours anymore doesn’t mean you can quit doing cardio, as this is still very important if you want to stay healthy.
If, up until this point, most of your working day has been spent sitting in a chair, you cannot immediately go from sitting down all day to standing up instead. Your body will take time to adjust. Otherwise, you risk straining muscles and feeling very uncomfortable.
Try switching between standing and sitting in short periods throughout the day, gradually increasing the time you spend standing for up to half of the working day.
It has been found that blood sugar levels drop back to normal after eating more quickly when the individual is standing up rather than sitting down, which is why using a standing desk in the afternoon has even more added benefits.
Neither standing nor sitting alone are good for our health, and you may still feel discomfort even when switching between the two. Take regular screen breaks and go for a short walk around your office to feel more refreshed throughout the day.
Whether sitting or standing, your desk must be set up correctly for the working day. This includes positioning your screen so it is just above the resting eye level to prevent slouching, which can worsen the issue.
An anti-fatigue mat can help to eliminate the pains caused by standing by providing support for the knees, hips, and ankles as it will cushion your feet while you work, which is far better for your body than if you were to be standing on a flat office carpet or wooden floor.
See our range of specially designed Standing Desk Mats
Working at a standing desk can be distracting, especially at the start, as it will take some getting used to. You will find that you can see more of the office than when you were sitting down and will probably be aware that people can see you and what you are doing better too. For this reason, you should sit down when you need to concentrate on something. For some more info on convertible standing desks here.
With important advantages and disadvantages associated with standing desks, it is easy to see why people would opt for one if they had the choice. It is important to consider the issues that come with standing for prolonged periods and how these can be minimised should you wish to take a stand rather than a seat at work in the future.
Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.