Are standing desks better for your health?
Nowadays, there are tons of alternatives to a traditional sitting desk, including standing desks.
Standing desks are probably the most popular alternative desk option, and it’s easy to see why. Many workers cite increased productivity, higher energy levels, less back pain, and other benefits as concrete proof that standing desks work.
However, it’s important to understand the potential risks and downsides of a standing desk before making the switch (and investing in a new setup).
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a standing desk.
What are some of the top benefits of a standing desk?
Despite some sensational news stories that compare sitting to the next health apocalypse, there isn’t much scientific evidence that stand-up desks improve overall health.
Regardless of the science, you can’t deny the success stories that standing desk advocates have shared. The proof is in how they feel:
- More energy: Plenty of people who have converted to stand-up desks say that their energy levels increased dramatically when they made the switch.
- Goodbye to back pain: Office dwellers often develop pain and stiffness throughout the years. Standing desks can help improve posture and core strength, leading to a happier back.
- Increased productivity: Many workers swear that their stand-up desks have helped boost productivity. Standing, instead of sitting, helps them stay physically and mentally alert.
What are the disadvantages of switching to a standing desk?
Truthfully, the stand-up desk trend does have its downfalls. Many people that have made the switch love it, but there are some disadvantages to be aware of:
- There’s an adjustment period: Using a standing desk will likely be a big lifestyle change and there’s bound to be an uncomfortable adjustment period. Start by standing for an hour or two at a time.
- They aren’t available in all offices: While some modern offices have adjustable sit-stand desks, many still use good old-fashioned sitting desks. While you can certainly DIY a standing desk setup, it’s not always easy depending on the limitations of your office space.
- Leg and foot soreness: If you’re standing all day, you’ll inevitably experience some soreness. But, just as sitting in one position all day is bad for your health, so is standing. The key is to use the stand-up desk as another tool that helps you move throughout the workday.
If you still want to give standing a try, there are lots of ways to mitigate some of the most common issues that workers have with standing desks.
As mentioned above, don’t work from one static position for hours on end. Switch it up as much as you can, and remember to take breaks to walk around, stretch, and get your blood moving.
You can also invest in a cushioned mat to stand on, or wear supportive shoes with comfy insoles.
Okay, I want a standing desk. What are my options?
In the past, the main way to snag a stand-up desk was to DIY it and hope that your carpentry skills were up to par. That’s certainly still an option, but there are a variety of companies that manufacture standing desks these days.
New models are being made available all the time, so do your research before buying a standing desk. Retailers like Home Depot and Ikea often have great deals on Black Friday and other holidays, so shop around to find the best deal. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are also great places to look.
Convincing your employer to pay for a standing desk
If you’re an employee, there’s no harm in asking if your employer will cover the cost of a standing desk (or other office essentials that help you do more of your best work).
Even if you work from home, it’s still possible to convince your employer to spring for a better office setup. For more information on how to ask for a virtual office allowance, check out this article from our blog archives.
Standing or sitting, moving throughout the workday is essential
If you aren’t quite ready to make the move to a standing desk, at least make sure that you’re staying active throughout the workday.
MacGyvering a stand-up desk at your current office might be a bit tricky, but anyone can squeeze bursts of activity into their day.