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Stand. Don’t sit. A Guide to Standing Desks in the Workplace

When you work in an office job, it's not uncommon to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. And while we already know that sitting in a desk chair for too long can be uncomfortable, it turns out it can also cause some serious physical damage.

The harm caused by prolonged periods of inactivity is no joke. Research shows that every hour spent sitting greatly increases your risk of heart disease. And sitting for eight hours a day is just as dangerous for you as smoking, as research suggests it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In a poll of 2,000 workers, the British Heart Foundation found that about 45 percent of women and 37 percent of men spend 30 minutes or less each day on their feet. And those kinds of numbers put them at a greater risk for diabetes and even premature death.

What's worse, exercising just doesn't cut it. Even workers who cycle to the office or hit the gym in the evening are at risk if they're spending a full day sitting at a desk.

Think of it this way: If you eat an entire chocolate cake, following it with a green smoothie might make you feel better — but it doesn't cancel out the cake. The damage is done.

So what's the solution?

It turns out it's possible to spend eight hours a day in the office without having to sit the entire time.How? By using active, standing desks.

Until recently, research on this trend was too sporadic to draw solid conclusions on the benefits and drawbacks of standing desks. But three Canadian researchers have published a study showing that, indeed, the physiological and psychological benefits of active desks are worth making the switch.

And that may be as good a reason as any to stand instead of sit.

Advantages of standing desks

But how exactly do these standing desks improve our health? And is a standing desk right for everyone? Should you get a standing desk?

Based on the findings published in a recent issue of Preventive Medicine, both standing and treadmill desks improve overall health. Improvements to health include:

  • Weight loss
  • Mood boost
  • Decrease in cholesterol levels
  • Greater energy expenditure

It goes without saying that treadmill desks proved to lead to more weight loss than standing desks. And both kinds of desks led to significantly lower levels of total cholesterol — although, again, treadmill desks showed more of an impact.

Participants in that same study also reported a clear mood boost from using standing desks, including less fatigue, tension, confusion and depression. Meanwhile, energy and happiness levels increased.

People have clearly begun to take note of these changes, as standing desks are quickly becoming one of our most popular products. And if you want to switch between sitting and standing, there's the adjustable standing desk.

But the question remains: Do standing desks increase productivity in the workplace?

And the answer is as simple as: Not really. Researchers found that using a standing desk had little impact on work performance.

So are the physiological benefits of standing desks reason enough to get one? You have to wonder: Is there any reason why you shouldn't get a standing desk?

Disadvantages of standing desks

Standing desks may not be for everyone. And if you're not using your standing desk correctly, you may be better off just sitting — preferably in an ergonomic chair.

Common mistakes include:

  • Standing all day. Sure, sitting all day isn't good for you. But neither is standing. Standing for too long can compress the spine and lead to lower back problems. It can also cause cardiovascular problems as your heart works against gravity to keep blood flowing from your toes.
  • Standing still. Even if you're standing, if you're not moving, you're still sedentary. Small movements such as taking the weight off one foot and then the other make a difference. Don't underestimate the power of fidgeting.
  • Relying solely on standing desks. You'll still need to burn calories. Standing desks do not replace good old-fashioned exercise.

Given that it's easy to misuse standing desks, it's good to know that there are options to help you find a desk that works for you. And maybe the best desk for you allows a little bit of both standing and sitting — the best of both worlds.

How standing desks work

standing desk chair footstool

Before you invest in a standing desk, you'll want to know just how it works. Yes, a standing desk is about as simple as it sounds — it's a workstation that allows you to stand as you do your work. But we know now that standing for eight hours isn't good for you, either.

To help you find a healthy balance between standing and sitting, you could use a standing desk chair or stool. And if your back starts to ache from standing, but you also don't want to sit, you could try a standing desk foot rest. Looking to get some cardio in while you work? Go for the treadmill desk.

When you're looking to purchase a standing desk, you'll also want to consider the desk height. The standard height of our fixed height desks is 29 inches, but custom heights are available from 22 inches to 52 inches.

The height of your desk should generally be at elbow height. But if you want to be able to adjust the height of your standing desk yourself, there's the adjustable standing desk.

The cost of standing desks varies, depending on the brand and type of desk you choose. Prices can range from about $300 to more than $1,000. But before you spend that money, be sure you're getting a desk that's right for you.

Find the best standing desk for you

Whether you're ready to take the leap to a standing desk or you're just looking for a more comfortable desk chair, Connecting Elements can help you find what you need. Browse our office furniture selection, or get in touch with us at 844-235-3636.

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