8 benefits of standing desks

Over the past few years, awareness of the dangers of our sedentary lifestyles has grown. The effects are widespread: back, neck and shoulder pain are common complaints in the modern office. Rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are rising across the country. 

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And the cause might be surprising to many: there is now a consensus in the medical community that sitting all day can be as dangerous for your health as smoking. That might seem a little dramatic: after all, how dangerous can sitting really be?

Is Sitting Bad For Your Health?

Extended sitting time and poor posture cause back pain and spinal problems, which if left unchecked can develop into chronic conditions. And sedentary lifestyles combined with long work hours can cause diabetes, stroke, heart disease and early death.

The national health survey reports that 43.7% of us spend the majority of our workday sitting (1). And such extended periods of time seated are clearly bad for us. However, finding clever ways to build more activity into our days can do more than help fight the negatives. It can actually increase your productivity, energy levels, and general wellbeing. If you must sit, the Desky team have put a lot of effort into ensuring your time spent sitting at a computer is as ergonomically correct as possible.

So clearly sit-stand desks could have a role to play in boosting the nation's health and productivity. But what exactly are the key standing desk benefits? You might be surprised by some of the results.

Standing Desks Can Help You Lose Weight

Many of the more serious complications related to sedentary lifestyles are caused by people becoming overweight or obese, and studies have found strong trends linking this to increased sitting (2). In 2014-15, 63.4% of Australians were overweight or obese. By 2017-18, this figure had risen to 67%, over two-thirds of the population (3).

It would seem to many that this is further proof that our bodies simply did not evolve to be sedentary. Of course, we can’t go back to the hunter-gatherer lifestyles for which our bodies are designed. In an increasingly data-driven, online world, many of us are destined to remain tied to our desks.

The crucial factor could be the desk you remain tied to. A stand up desk or sit-stand desk will allow you to keep on your feet for at least part of the day, which is shown to have real health benefits and aid weight loss. Time spent in moderate to vigorous activity has been shown to have a statistically significant impact on weight gain (4).

Standing raises the heart rate and can burn as many as 50 calories an hour. So if you spend longer periods of time standing you could see real health benefits. Coupled with dedicated physical activity, a standing desk can have huge benefits in the fight against obesity.

A Standing Desk Could Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

Poor diet, a lack of exercise and obesity are all factors which are known to heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, a study conducted in the UK, which analysed the data of 18 other studies covering a total of 794,577 participants, found that those who sat all day are as much as two times as likely to develop the disease (6).

Perhaps the starkest finding was that this remains true even for those who take regular exercise. Simply, the act of sitting itself is a big danger factor for diabetes. Standing can be a lifesaver, and this is one of the most important benefits of standing desk use.

How Can A Standing Desk Help with Diabetes?

The reason for this is that extended periods seated seem to cause changes to the metabolism, which affects the production of insulin. In review, Diabetes UK recommended that reducing the time spent sitting or lying down could significantly lower the risk of diabetes (6). And their recommended actions for those at work? To spend at least part of the day standing and keep active. Using a standing desk will make sure of this.

Standing Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Many studies have made direct links between sedentary work and increased risk of heart disease (7). It is definitely accepted that a lack of exercise can be a contributing factor. Also, those with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart disease and attack (6).

So remaining active during the day will help keep you active, burning calories and ensure your metabolism is operating to it’s best. A standing up desk allows you to keep moving, promotes good blood flow and can even help lower cholesterol. All of this in turn will lower the risk of heart disease, related heart complaints and stroke.

A Standing Desk Could Help You Live Longer

sit stand desks

All of this boosts your chances of leading a long, healthy and productive life. By keeping your weight down you can avoid a whole host of serious ailments.

Sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes are shown to have shorter life expectancy than non-sufferers (8), so using a desk to avoid this and further complications can literally extend your life. This is true for those who already suffer from the disease, with lifestyle factors and level of activity shown to extend the lives and condition for those who make positive health choices.

And avoiding heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure will add years to your life. An active lifestyle is the best way of avoiding all of these problems, so standing up at desk spaces rather than sitting could well help you live longer.

Standing Desks Help You Keep Active

Worryingly, not only are many people sitting all day, but they can’t find time between work and family life to fit in enough exercise. Just over half of Australians aged 18-64 (55.4%) are getting the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week (9). On top of this, many are now adjusting to home working, often with imperfect equipment, and even longer hours. Standing has never been more important.

Of course, a sit stand desk cannot replace physical activity, but it can help. One interesting stat shows that if you combined the figures for exercise shown above with active work hours, this proportion of people hitting the exercise target rises to 65.5% (9).

So, remaining active at work can help bridge the gap between the exercise we do, and the exercise we need. Office workers don’t have the ‘luxury’ of manual work, so sit stand desks can help you keep moving during the day. This can help even out the deficit in exercise, avoids more serious health complications, promotes blood flow, and has a host of perhaps unexpected health benefits associated with it.

Standing Increases Your Productivity

Standing during the day, or dividing your time between standing and sitting, has been shown to boost productivity. One study conducted by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health found significant boosts in both productivity and outcome when surveying subjects in a call centre. Compared to their seated colleagues, after 6 months they registered 53% more successful calls (10).

Another study on by The University of Leicester tested workers in the UK’s NHS, and reported that the group who switched between sitting and standing showed boosted performance and engagement vs the seated control group (11).

Although detailed studies into why this happens are not yet complete, it is thought that the increased blood flow, endorphin levels, and relative lack of musculoskeletal pain all combine to boost worker performance. Users report increased energy levels throughout the day. So if you feel you need a boost, a sit stand desk could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Standing Desks Boost Your Wellbeing

This is one of the least known sit stand desk benefits, but is so important. Low energy, pain and poor performance can all adversely affect your mental health. But standing can help. Standing desks can improve your overall health, your performance at work (or while gaming at your new setup), help promote good blood flow, and keep you energised and free from musculoskeletal pain.

All of which will combine to boost your sense of health and wellbeing. This in turn will help you work better, further increasing your productivity. A happy worker is a productive worker, so boosting your wellbeing could actually advance your career. You can think of using a sit stand desk as a very positive snowball effect, where each day and increased usage feeds into your sense of wellbeing. And who wouldn’t want that.

Standing Desks Can Relieve Back Pain

computer standing desk

Poor posture and related musculoskeletal problems are a huge driver of workplace absenteeism. One of the key benefits of using a standing desk is that it allows you to alter your position during the day, which relieves strain on key muscle groups and allows the body to share the load more easily. This can have a profound effect on back pain. If you do have to sit we recommend you take a look at our guide for how to sit at your desk the ergonomically correct way.

One study showed that participants reported a 50% decrease in back pain vs their seated co-workers (12).

But that's not all that sit standing desks can offer. Standing more often can increase the strength of your core muscles, which will help support the back, relieve pain and prevent further injury. And even if you don't have back or neck pain, using a standing desk periodically will help prevent you from developing bad posture.

How Long Should I Stand At A Standing Desk?

The jury is out, but the most common pattern is 30 minutes standing out of each hour. If this is uncomfortable you can either increase or decrease your sitting time. At first you should stand less, as your muscles adjust, and slowly ramp up the time you spend standing until you find your level. Check out our guide on using a standing desk correctly for more info.

Can A Standing Desk Improve My Health?

Sitting for hours a day on end is known to have a host of negative effects on our health. This is why standing desks have so many health benefits, as they negate the destructive effects of our sedentary lifestyles. In a world where time is at a premium, they allow us to keep active whilst we work, saving time and our health.

Whether you stand all day, for 30 minutes an hour or hardly at all at first, incorporating standing into your work-life can keep you free from pain, help you lose weight, and avoid the risk of more serious illness. If you're concerned with your health, well-being or productivity, a standing desk could be what you're looking for. Try Desky's range of standing desks today and experience health improvements from increasing your daily activity.

References:

  1. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Physical%20activity~115
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16005804/
  3. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Overweight-and-Obesity#:~:text=In%202017%2D18%2C%20the%20Australian,63.4%25%20in%202014%2D15.
  4. http://getaustraliastanding.org/pdfs/research/69.pdf
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24532996#:~:text=Stand%2Dup%20guys&text=Now%20that%20doesn't%20sound,or%20around%208lb%20of%20fat.
  6. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news_landing_page/sitting-for-long-periods-increases-risk-of-type-2-diabetes#:~:text=Sitting%20slows%20down%20metabolism,in%20preventing%20the%20condition%20developing.
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22890825/
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317477#:~:text=A%2055%2Dyear%2Dold%20male,expectancy%20of%20another%2010%20years.
  9. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Physical%20activity~115
  10. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/standing-desks-boost-productivity-not-just-health-study-finds/2016/05/31/b7948390-2358-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html
  11. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/standing-desks-work-office-tiredness-productivity-health-benefits-research-nhs-study-sitting-a8578561.html
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29330230/
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