For a long, long time my husband (who is an Osteopath, sports masseur and medical acupuncturist) has gone on and on about the benefits of standing desks. In fact, before he became an Osteopath we worked together at a digital marketing agency in London and he made the agency buy him a standing desk to help with his back problems. He was the only one to have a standing desk in the office and it caused quite a stir!
Reducing time spent sitting down can help boost physical, metabolic and even mental health and these days standing desks are more and more common, like the Fellowes Sit-Stand Workstation, allowing you to stand up comfortably while working with many being adjustable so you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing.
Sitting less and standing more has been shown to have many benefits, here are the top 5.
Lowers Risk of Weight Gain
When I started working in an office I put on quite a bit of weight which caught me by surprise, it seems silly but I hadn’t realised that sitting down all day at my desk was going to have such a big impact on my activity levels. Choosing to use a standing desk and being more mobile during the day ultimately helps you to burn more calories and helps to prevent gaining weight. Standing up for an afternoon has been shown to burn around 170 additional calories than sitting, which adds up to around 1,000 more calories burnt per week!
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
As someone with type 2 diabetes in the family, this benefit of using a standing desk is super interesting. Keeping blood sugar levels under control is important to avoid developing insulin resistance. Shockingly, excessive sedentary time is linked to a whopping 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes. A study has shown that standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time, which is a huge difference!
Reduce Back Pain
As an Osteopath, my husband sees many people who have injuries or conditions brought on by lifestyle including neck, shoulder and lower back pain resulting from long hours working behind a desk. The habits we create at our desks can contribute to discomfort and health issues like these, in fact, research has shown that repetitive actions, bad posture, and remaining in the same position can cause or worsen musculoskeletal disorders. Where standing desks have been used participants in studies have found a 32% improvement in lower back pain after several weeks of using standing desks with another study discovering that using a sit-stand desk reduced upper back and neck pain by 54% after just 4 weeks!
Help Improve Mood and Energy Levels
One of my favourite things about working from home is the positive atmosphere which was never present when I worked in an office. I remember spending many hours feeling bored, tired and generally in a bad mood when working in an office behind a desk all day so it doesn’t surprise me that participants using standing desks in a week-long study reported less stress and fatigue than those who remained seated the entire workday. 87% of those taking part in the study reported increased energy throughout the day. Sedentary time has been linked to increased risk of both depression and anxiety. I actually used to take regular bathroom breaks and kitchen runs in order to get up from my desk and move around in order to feel better so it makes sense that standing up and being more active has a positive result.
Despite some people who believe that standing desks get in the way of work tasks, such as typing at a keyboard, using a standing desk is more likely to boost productivity rather than hinder it. In fact, there was a study of 60 office workers who used a standing desk for 4 hours each day which showed no impact on characters typed per minute or typing errors. This benefit is the least surprising to me – of course if you have no added pounds, no sugar crash, no back pain and a better mood you will be more productive!
Maybe you should consider getting a standing desk?