Weekly Industry News writer and editor Gary Wolcott built his own standing desk. He’s a huge proponent of the concept of standing while you work and couldn’t find anything that satisfied his need so he built his own. But that was before all those really great standing-sitting desks were mass produced.
Wolcott did not — however — go all the way. “I bought a tall chair so I can stand for a while, then sit, then stand. It’s the best of both worlds,” he said.
All of the articles we could find on the subject were of the “either-or” variety. It’s a panacea or it’s totally detrimental to your health. Here is a little of both.
An article from HealthLine says people sitting all day, everyday risk diabetes and heart disease and an early death. And you don’t burn very many calories sitting. So, weight gain and obesity can’t be far behind. It also recommends finding a variable version of the standing desk so one can sit and stand at will.
HealthLine talks a lot about adjustable desks but Wolcott says another option is a standing desk that’s permanent and finding a chair that is high enough to both stand or sit.
“It works for me and depending on your situation, it might be a bit less expensive and less difficult to use than having to constantly raise and lower a desk. The chair is always at the right height,” he said.
But that’s personal opinion. For some raising and lowering a desk might be difficult so Wolcott’s standing option would be best. Others — and those restricted by office configuration — will find it easiest to raise and lower a desk.
HealthLine lists seven advantages of a standing desk.
1. Standing Lowers Your Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity — You can burn as much as 170 additional calories in an afternoon by standing at your desk. That’s 1,000 calories a week.
2. Using a Standing Desk May Lower Blood Sugar Levels — A study of 10 office workers found standing after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43%. A different study of 23 workers concluded that alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes all day long reduced blood sugar levels by 11.1%.
3. Standing May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease — The idea of standing at a desk to improve heart health was first introduced in 1953. Scientists looked at bus conductors and found they — because they stood all day — had half the risk of heart disease than their bus driver colleagues. Prolonged sedentary time — researchers these days have found — increases the risk of heart disease by 147%.
4. Standing Desks Appear to Reduce Back Pain — Study participants with back troubles found a 32% improvement in lower back pain after using a standing desk for several weeks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did a study recently that showed using a sit-stand desk reduced the risk of upper back and neck pain by 54% after using that type of desk for two-weeks. However, it has to be noted that good shoes and ergonomic pads to stand on are important to this aspect of a standing desk.
5. Standing Desks Help Improve Mood and Energy Levels — A seven-week study said those using a standing desk had less stress and fatigue than those who sat all week. And 87% of those using standing desks said they had more energy throughout the day. When they returned to their old sitting desks, the study said their overall mood reverted to past levels. Other studies say sitting for long periods adds to the risk of depression and anxiety.
6. Standing Desks May Even Boost Productivity — Some contend standing desks cause problems with regular tasks like typing. Standing desks may take some getting used to but they do not appear — studies say — to obstruct the ability to do most tasks. Other studies say these desks appear to boost rather than reduce productivity.
7. Standing More May Help You Live Longer — The publication says 18 studies it reviewed said those who sit all day are at a 49% higher risk of dying early than those who sit less. One said cutting sitting time by three-hours a day raises the average life expectancy by two-years.
HealthLine recommends a 50-50 split of time spent sitting and standing while working.
There are negatives to standing rather than sitting says a study by Curtin University in Australia. The study was published in the journal Ergonomics. It found standing for long periods of time creates “discomfort and deteriorating mental reactiveness.”
To be fair, that study only used 20 people. However, the university says it looked at more expensive research that finds standing too long causes back discomfort and swelling of veins.
Newsweek magazine found a 12-year study of over 7,000 office workers published by the American Journal of Epidemiology. It contends people who stand at work are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who sat more often.
Alan Taylor is a physiotherapy expert at Nottingham University. He said, “The bottom line is that this expansion [of standing desks] has been driven more by commercial reasons than scientific evidence. But the evidence is catching up, and it’s showing there are some drawbacks.”
He says workers should probably rely less on standing desks for well-being and walk more.
Source links: HealthLine, Washington Post