Stand up desks have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with many workspaces accommodating the change. We moved our UK office recently and with this move came the opportunity to upgrade our office setup. It was clear from the number of requests we had that stand up desks were in demand. We asked Allan Darvill, our very own Chief Health & Wellbeing Officer, to explain the benefits of stand up desks, and also how to use them correctly.
Benefits of standing desks (backed by science…)
Standing lowers risk of weight gain & obesity. We all know our diet is in control of your weight, and that going to your favourite fast food will ultimately still contribute to bad health, but standing makes you use more muscles than you usually would. The more muscles you’re using, the more calories you’ll burn.
Standing may lower your blood sugar level. After eating, our blood sugar levels increase – the higher the worse it is for us. This is made worse if we’ve eaten a bad lunch. Most of us working in an office will sit down and get back to work after lunch, but sitting for long periods of time has strong links with an increase in Type 2 diabetes. By using a standing desk after lunch, you’ll reduce the spike in your blood sugar levels.
Standing may lower heart disease. Though this may sound extreme, science is science. In 1953 a study using bus conductors found that conductors who stood had half the risk of heart disease related deaths to their seated colleagues. Since then, as science has improved, there have been more studies done on this subject – which show a potential increase in heart disease by up to 147%, a considerable increase that standing more throughout the day can help with.
Standing can reduce lower back pain. The most common injury from office workers is back pain, as many of us know. Studies show that using a standing desk can improve lower back pain in as little as 4 weeks. There have also been reverse studies done where the desks were taken away and the pain returned within 2 weeks. So if you do suffer from back pain, a stand up desk could be the solution for you.
Standing desks can help improve mood and energy levels. Sitting for long periods of time has had direct links to mental health, depression and anxiety. A recent study has shown that participants using a stand up desk generally have more energy and are in a better mood.
Standing desks improve productivity. When first introduced to the market, there was a concern that stand up desks would hinder normal office tasks such as typing. A study showed that during a 4 hour period using a standing desk, no typing errors or words per minute had been affected by standing.
Standing may help us live longer. The facts are there, and the point is clear – standing desks may help us live longer. In my opinion, the strong links between sitting and Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are more than enough reason to integrate standing into my daily workflow.
In a nutshell, it’s better to stand.
Alternate between standing and sitting. Out of the few articles I have read, most are saying spend 50% of the time standing, and 50% sitting. If not a minimum should be 2:1 sitting vs standing. Just like everything in life too much of one thing can have a reverse effect. Standing for too long can result in negative effect for your leg muscles, tendons and could even cause varicose veins. So make sure you are alternating, I would suggest an hour sitting then an hour standing.
Raising your desk can potentially knock your desk ergonomics out place, in the diagram here, you can see how your desk should look once it’s in the standing position.
As with sitting, it is important to have the correct setup of your keyboard and your mouse. To prevent wrist pain, your keyboard should be tilted upwards slightly when you’re sitting down, this reduces strain on your wrist just by changing the position marginally.
Even though you are mixing your working position up, it is still recommended to take regular breaks such as moving, stretching, taking a second out to clear your head or to rest your eyes.
And that’s it – everything you should need to know about the benefits of your standing desk, and how to properly use your standing desk!