Standing desks allow you stand up while you work – and are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, Google searches for standing desks went up by 20% during the pandemic.
People sit down A LOT, and Covid, lockdowns and the subsequent work-from-home revolution has led many people to have an even more sedentary lifestyle than usual.
UK Active, a not-for-profit body representing health and lifestyle organisations, found that 78% of people admitted to sitting down more during lockdowns, with 42% owning up they were sitting for an extra 14 hours a week – for instance working, watching telly, gaming or reading.
Being inactive for long periods simply isn’t good for you – but sitting seems to be particularly bad. The link between sitting and ill-health was first recognised in the 1950s, when research found that bus drivers (sitting down) were more than twice as likely to have heart attacks than their bus conductor (standing up) colleagues.
According to the NHS, sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. Studies have linked inactivity with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death.
What are the potential benefits of a standing desk?
1. Reducing health risks
Standing up improves cholesterol and cardiovascular health, can improve musculoskeletal issues like back pain, lowers blood sugar levels, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol – and could even help you control your weight…
2. Burning calories
Sitting down typically burns 60-130 calories an hour. Standing up, you burn 100-200 calories an hour. For every hour you swap sitting for standing, you could be burning an extra 140 calories – equivalent to two Oreo cookies.
3. Boosting mood and energy
Moving around a bit more – including by standing up for part of you working day – can help you sleep better, feel happier and manage your stress or anxiety.
4. Improving focus and productivity
There’s lots of evidence that standing up actually improves focus and productivity at work. According to brain scientists at University College London, stand-sit desks can sharpen work-related traits like decision-making and problem-solving.
What are the cons of a standing desk?
1. You might be standing wrong…
It sounds crazy but if you’re not used to standing up a lot, you might not be doing it right! If you’ve been chair-bound for hours a day, suddenly swapping to standing may make any musculoskeletal issues worse rather than better.
Sitters will have lengthened and weakened various muscle groups and may need to correct those posture issues before being able to stand comfortably. That could involve excercises, physiotherapy, and slowly building up time spent standing up.
Top tips are to tilt your pelvis forwards rather than back, lower your shoulders, soften your knees, and distribute your weight evenly between both feet.
Standing desks, and even desk-top converters, don’t come particularly cheap. If you want to see if standing up to work is going to work for you, it’s worth rigging up a homemade version before making the investment.
Use boxes or chairs on your desk or table, and make sure your screen is directly in front of your eyes at a distance of about 20 inches, and that you’re not reaching up or down to your keyboard and mouse.
3. Standing isn’t moving
Standing is better than sitting, and a combination is even better - but neither is quite as good as actually moving around more in general!
The NHS suggests you should be aiming for 150 minutes of exercise a week. People engaging in regular physical activity have a lower risk of things like heart disease and strokes, diabetes, bowel cancer, osteoarthritis, depression and dementia.
A standing desk is a great first step – but taking more steps is an even better one!
If working from home is a pain in your neck (or back) – remember that Equipsme members get access to physio sessions as part of their plan. Find out more about how to make YOUR appointment here.