Are Standing Desks Good for You? A Look at the Science
Tech giants from Apple to Google have kitted out their offices with standing desks for over a decade. And sluggish they ain’t.
Fortunately, the rest of us have caught up, with wellness and productivity front and centre in 2023.
But are standing desks good for you?
According to science, it’s a resounding yes.
This article dives deep into the science, reviewing cited standing desk benefits from losing weight to improved mental health.
So, grab your lab coat and let’s investigate.
Using a standing desk may lower blood sugar levels
The more your blood sugar levels increase after meals, the worse it is for your health. This is especially true for those with type 2 diabetes.
But sit-stand desks may help stem the tide.
A study of office workers found that alternating between sitting and standing every half an hour throughout the day reduced blood sugar spikes by 11%.
In another small study of 10 office workers, standing for three hours after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same period.
The moral of the story? Stand up for your health.
Standing may lower the risk of heart disease
The idea that standing is better for heart health than sitting was posited all the way back in 1953. A study found that bus conductors who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths as their driver colleagues.
Fast forward to 2023, and scientists put the increased risk of heart disease due to prolonged sedentary time at 147%.
What’s even more worrying – an hour of intense exercise doesn’t compensate for a full day sitting. So, it’s time to step up.
Ease neck and back pain
Sound body, but what about the mind?
Let’s take a look.
Mental health benefits of standing desks
Researchers at the University of Leicester (2020) found that office workers who used sit-stand desks significantly reduced their sitting time. By standing more, participants reported reduced fatigue and a greater sense of well-being.
A Japanese study found that office workers who used sit-stand desks experienced less psychological strain (always a bonus) and greater job satisfaction than those who used traditional desks.
Increased job satisfaction and a sense of well-being? Sounds more like a pay rise than a rising desk.
But the data speaks for itself. More movement and greater autonomy make your mind and body healthier.
Standing desks may boost productivity
A common concern about standing desks is that they hinder office tasks – typing in particular. But a study of 60 young office employees using a standing desk for 4 hours a day showed no change in characters typed per minute or typing errors.
Coupled with improved mood and energy, standing desks are more likely to boost productivity.
Check out our sit-stand desk below!
Does standing burning calories?
Here’s a burning question: do standing desks help you lose weight? They do – but don’t expect radical results.
Standing burns up to 50 calories an hour more than sitting. But you don’t want to be standing all day at work, so focus on diet and exercise if you’re trying to lose weight.
Correct desk posture
We know sit-stand desks improve posture, but what is the correct desk posture? According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, you should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your shoulders relaxed.
Desk height is important, too. Conventional wisdom says your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when typing, and your computer screen should be at eye level.
But everybody’s different. A Human Factors study found that most standing desk users preferred their standing desk set slightly lower than elbow height, with their monitor lower and their mouse closer to hand.
So, when setting up your sit-stand desk, just be mindful of any aches and twinges and adjust accordingly.
How long do you stand at a standing desk?
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy recommends that office workers aim to spend at least two hours of their workday standing or moving, and gradually increase this over time.
The downsides of standing desks
Of course, standing all day at work isn't without its downsides. It can be hard on your feet and legs for one, and standing in the same position for long periods is tiring.
But taking regular breaks and switching between sitting and standing throughout the day can mitigate these issues.
Experts recommend standing for 20-30 minutes at a time, and then sitting for a while before standing again.
The social stand-off
Standing desks have a social contagion element. Once one person at the office gets one, an influx often ensues.
This even happens in Zoom meetings – seeing Dave from accounts standing may keep others on their toes. Whether this is a good thing or not is up for debate.
Standing desk accessories
Wear supportive shoes and use an anti-fatigue mat to cushion your feet when using a standing desk. And don't forget to stretch regularly throughout the day, especially your calves and hamstrings.
Time to take a stand?
Are standing desks good for you? The answer is yes – as long as you use them correctly. By standing for a portion of your workday, you can burn more calories, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of certain health problems.
And the evidence backs it up. So, if you want to improve your health and productivity, it’s time to take a stand!