Office workers spend most of their working hours sitting at a desk. And, prolonged sitting at office desks is not good for the body. Even ‘gym bunnies’ who work out when work is finished are still at risk. Before hitting the treadmill, they’ve probably sat at a desk for eight hours or more. Without regular physical activity, the risk of suffering from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and general aches and pains increases. Sitting for long periods can even shorten our life span! There is a way, however, of lowering the risk and (maybe) living longer. All you have to do is swap your conventional office desk for a standing desk.
Standing desks – a smart solution for sedentary lifestyles
With a correctly adjusted standing desk, standing comfortably to work is achievable. Many models are height adjustable while some switch quickly from sitting to standing desks. Fixed-height standing desks are the most friendly if budgets are tight. For optimum health benefits, however, switching between sitting and standing during the working day is recommended. This is easier to do with height-adjustable desks. These flexible sit-stand desks are operated either manually with a lever or powered by electricity. All you have to do is press a button to change your working position.
The right way to stand
Whichever type of standing desk you choose, there are some things you can do to get maximum benefit from it. If standing work is new to you, start gradually. Try working on your feet for just 30 minutes, two or three times a day. Gradually build up your standing time until you’re comfortable working on your feet for several hours at a stretch. For maximum health and productivity benefits, find a balance between standing and sitting time throughout the day. Follow our other tips to work successfully on your feet:
- Adjust your desk properly: When working at a standing desk, the correct posture is important. Keep your head, neck, and spine in a straight line. With your wrists flat on the desk, your arms should form a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Adjust your desk so that the computer screen is at eye level and at least 20 inches from your face
- Wear comfortable shoes: High heels and long periods of standing don’t go together. Wear flat or low-heeled shoes. Some people find a cushioned mat makes lengthy periods of standing more comfortable
- Take regular breaks: About every 30 minutes, take a short break. Walk around your workspace and grab a glass of water. Two or three times a day, take a longer break of between 10 minutes and one hour. Chat with coworkers and colleagues, head outside for a breath of fresh air and some physical activity, or tuck into a healthy snack. Recharging your batteries is easy to do in the exciting well-designed coworking spaces offered by Mindspace across the globe. From our Wynwood office space in Miami to our team suites in London, you’ll be sure to find a spot to relax in your own way.
The health benefits of standing to work
1. A lowered risk of weight gain and obesity
For most people the equation of weight gain and weight loss is simple. Eating more calories than you burn off = weight gain. Burning more calories than you eat = weight loss. Exercise is the best way to burn off these calories and lose weight. Surprisingly, standing to work rather than sitting burns off more calories than you’d think – up to 170 additional calories every morning or afternoon or almost 1,000 a week. This is equivalent to half the daily calorie needs of a healthy adult. Bump up the calorie burn by doing a few squats or calf rises as you work. Not only will you burn more calories per hour, but you’ll also tone up your muscles and stimulate brain activity, leading to improved energy levels, as well as increased productivity and creativity.
2. Standing to work may lower blood sugar levels
Our blood sugar levels peak after meals. The higher the peak, the more your health is at risk. Even more so, if you are insulin resistant or have Type 2 Diabetes. A small study from 2014, showed that standing for three hours after lunch reduced this spike in blood sugar by up to 43%. A similar study showed that alternating sitting and standing at 30-minute intervals reduced the spike by over 11%. If you want to keep control of your sugar levels and lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in later years, then getting a standing desk or starting a sit-stand routine is definitely a good idea.
3. Working while standing may lower the risk of heart disease
Way back in the early 1950s, it was noted that bus conductors who were on their feet throughout their shift were 50% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than their driver colleagues. Since then, our knowledge of heart health has increased. We now know that a sedentary lifestyle dramatically increases the risk of developing heart disease. While nothing beats the benefit of even a few minutes of strenuous exercise, standing rather than sitting is better than doing no exercise at all. Standing to work improves circulation and blood flow throughout the body, helping to keep your heart healthy. It’s important, however, to move around and stretch regularly while standing up to work.
4. A reduction in neck and back pain
Sitting at a desk, whether it’s in a coworking space or in your own private office, in front of a computer all day almost always leads to some degree of back and neck pain. In fact, it’s one of the things office workers complain the most about. Sitting for prolonged periods puts pressure on the lower back while tilting the head to peer at a screen causes neck pain. Studies have shown that using standing desks can dramatically improve lower back pain and neck pain. When you stand to work at an ergonomically-designed desk, your posture is more upright and natural. Back and neck pain is quickly eliminated.
5. A happier mood
Would you like to feel less stressed and tired and have more oomph and energy? Then it appears that standing desks may provide the answer. One study showed that over 80% of standing desk users reported an upswing in their mood. Even more interestingly, when they returned to their old work practice of sitting at a desk, their mood reverted to its original lower level. This underscores the impact of workspace improvements on employee productivity. While listening to music can improve productivity, sitting for long periods puts stress on the body which is reflected in anxiety and fatigue levels. Simply changing your posture and working while upright boosts your mood and energy levels as well as your feeling of overall well-being. For those seeking a tranquil work environment, learning how to find silence in a coworking space can be a game-changer and further improve happiness in the workplace.
6. Better posture
The human body has developed over many millennia to favor an upright posture. Unless our desks and chairs are perfectly designed and we put effort into always sitting correctly, we’re putting stress on the spine, neck, and other joints. However, when you work at a well-designed standing or sit-stand desk and put effort into standing correctly, a better posture is achieved along with the benefits this brings. As we mentioned earlier, the best way to achieve this is by starting gradually. You’ll soon work out a balance between sitting to work and standing to work that suits your body.
Other benefits of a standing desk
- Improved productivity: A common concern among both employers and employees is that standing desks may hinder rather than enhance productivity. While a period of adjustment has to be expected, it appears that standing to work has no negative impact on this, and further research indicates how coworking improves productivity. The use of a standing desk during one study made no difference in typing speed or the number of typing errors made. In fact, with the positive impact standing to work has on health, mood, energy, focus, and executive function there is definitely going to be a positive impact on beating the afternoon slump in productivity. Understanding how workspace design can boost productivity is crucial in harnessing the benefits of standing desks
- Improved creativity and focus: Standing especially if interspersed with regular movement breaks increases blood flow to the brain. This increased blood flow not only improves mood and energy levels but also has a dramatic impact on concentration, focus, and creativity. This will be a major benefit whether you’re writing an important report, working on a marketing campaign, or designing a new building
Is using a standing desk better for my health than sitting?
Several studies in the last decade have shown that working at a standing desk can lower blood sugar levels, get rid of back and neck pain, and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Standing to work also improves posture, mood, focus, creativity, and energy levels. When an ergonomic standing desk is used, standing to work is definitely better for your health than sitting.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of standing desks?
- More calories burned
- Less back and neck pain
- Better blood flow
- Reduced blood sugar levels
- Improved mood and focus
- Enhanced energy levels and creativity
- Improved productivity
- If the correct footwear isn’t worn, it may cause knee and foot pain
- If regular movement breaks aren’t taken, varicose veins or DVTs may form
Do standing desks make a difference?
If your career involves long hours in an office, then you should consider a standing desk. Studies and experience show they make a positive difference in health and productivity. Sitting at a desk for long hours at a stretch impacts both physical and mental health whereas adding some standing hours to your day reduces the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Your mental health, focus, energy, creativity, and maybe, your lifespan will all receive a welcome boost.
With over 40 prime locations across the US, from coworking in Downtown Miami to Brooklyn, Europe, and Israel, our goal at Mindspace is to provide modern secure environments where flexible and productive coworking is combined with wellbeing. If you’re interested in finding out how we can help your workday go smoothly, contact us now!