Have you considered a standing desk? Wondering if a standing desk is right for you? After a year of standing while I work, I’ll never go back to sitting. Here’s why!
As a blogger, I have spent countless hours sitting at a desk. After reading about the health benefits of standing desks, I decided to take the plunge in the fall of 2014. It’s been more than a year, and I’ll never try to sit and work again.
The Health Benefits of a Standing Desk
It may not be the standing desk itself that offers health benefits, but the fact that a standing desk keeps us from sitting all day. Prolonged sedentary time has been identified as a contributor to many chronic diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic syndrome
The good news is it doesn’t take much to turn this around. An international group of experts commissioned by Public Health England states in their study The Sedentary Office: a Growing Case for Change Towards Better Health and Productivity:
The simple act of postural changes, standing and movement/ambulation within an office space is considered to be light-intensity activity, which can add 0.5–2.0 kcal/min of energy expenditure compared with sitting still while performing computer work.
In other words, we don’t have to go jog or lift weights to boost metabolism. The key is the avoidance of prolonged sitting. The panel recommends a combination of sitting and standing:
Workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 h/day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 h/day (prorated to part-time hours). To achieve this, seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks or the taking of short active standing breaks.
My Standing Desk Experience
The first day at my desk was intimidating. What if I get tired? What if I don’t like it? It felt like other lifestyle changes I have embraced over the years. Starting is always the hardest. The second day I noticed I looked forward to getting online. The third day I gave little thought to the issue. Within a week, I was sold. A year later I can’t imagine anything other than standing.
Changes I’ve experienced:
- Greater efficiency
- More movement (I come and go more readily—no more prolonged sitting)
- Better mood
- Better focus
- Better posture
The standing desk is undoubtedly one of the best investments I have made for my health.
Which Standing Desk is Right for You?
Options abound when it comes to a standing desk. You can create your own. (See these DIY standing desk images.) You can try a sit/stand combination desk, a treadmill desk, or a simple standing desk.
I chose the desk pictured on the left from Amazon.
It was fairly easy to assemble, affordable, and adjustable. I have switched locations several times, so the fact that it is on rollers has worked well for me.
(See more about treadmill vs. standing desk below.)
Keep the following ergonomic (study of the work environment) principles in mind during the selection process:
- Arms should be kept at a 90-degree angle when typing/standing
- The computer screen should be eye-level
- The computer monitor should be an arm’s length away (at least)
Keep your shoulders back when standing to maintain good posture. Picture your head touching the ceiling. Sometimes I cross my legs when standing, other times my feet are shoulder-width apart. I notice I move around quite a bit. (I also have a foam roller for reflexology and further movement. See more below.)
Treadmill or Standing?
If you’re choosing between a treadmill or standing desk, check out A Systematic Review of Standing and Treadmill Desks in the Workplace. The team of researchers concludes that both are good, for different reasons.
Based on the empirical evidence of current literature, this review concludes that standing and treadmill desks are potentially useful in reducing workplace sedentariness while having a positive influence on workplace stress and overall mood. The treadmill desk provides the greatest physiological improvements and is most beneficial for overweight and obese participants. However, the use of a treadmill desk results in larger decreases in work productivity and motor abilities than the standing desk.
Possible Additions to Your Standing Desk
Some standing desk users swear by a durable, well-cushioned anti-fatigue mat. (I have not tried one or felt like I needed one.)
Shoes or no shoes?
I stick with bare feet. (See the Ithaca University article Going Barefoot: Strong ‘Foot Core’ Could Prevent Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, and other Common Injuries.) Other standing desk advocates say supportive shoes help.
Foam rollers are commonly used in the fitness world, but can also be advantageous for standing desk users. The roller offers an opportunity for movement and variety, taking pressure off parts of your feet for brief periods. I have one and use it frequently for one foot or the other. Sometimes I stand on it while reading. Look for one that is firm and durable. (I have the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller.)
*Caution about Grounding Pads*
I don’t use a grounding mat at my desk. Grounding (connecting the body to the Earth via metallic fabric and a metal rod or grounded plug) in a highly powered environment can increase exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) since the body acts as a conductor. (See point #14 in my previous post Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices.)
A standing desk may not be practical for everyone. Taking frequent breaks may be enough of a change. Whether we sit or stand, movement and reduced sitting time can benefit our health for years to come!