Most Americans work in jobs requiring little physical activity. Only 20% of workers are moderately active, meaning 80% aren't. Since we spend most of our day either at work or asleep, we are essentially sedentary.
Lack of exercise and hours of sitting wreak havoc on our health. Sitting for extended periods of time is associated with obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. More frightening yet is the fact that exercise doesn't appear to mitigate the negative effects of all this sitting.
Do you sit for most of your day? Are you concerned about its health effects? If so, consider using a standing desk, many of which allow you to alternate between sitting and standing.
Plenty of office tasks are well-suited to a standing desk, making it a healthy and practical solution! Below let's go over some standing desk tips. Then you'll know if one is right for you. Read on!
Standing Desks: An Overview
Before we go over some standing desk hacks, let's see why standing desks have become so popular. What are their specific health benefits?
Then we'll examine how to use your standing desk during the day, including how to balance standing and sitting at work.
The Health Benefits of Standing
Long periods of sitting contributes to disease. The simple act of standing wards it off. As an example, let's look at obesity, which we know is a major contributor to metabolic disease.
It's not surprising, really, that sitting and not moving can make a person obese. And it's also not news that exercise helps you lose weight.
What is surprising is that workers who stand frequently burn about 87 more calories per day than their sitting counterparts. That's a significant difference. Over time, it can mean some workers end up overweight and sick while others slimmer and healthier.
Obesity is one modern plague many of us struggle with. Standing desks counteract other contemporary ailments. Here is a list of some known health benefits:
- they lower blood sugar levels and ward off insulin resistance, both known risk factors for type II diabetes
- they lower your risk for heart disease
- they help reduce back pain
We'll go over things like increased productivity and focus in another section. But, for now, suffice it say that standing more often at work contributes to good health.
Let's end this section on the most surprising note of all: sitting contributes to early death. Sedentary individuals have a 49% higher mortality rate than their more-active counterparts.
This is because sitting and not moving contributes greatly to disease. Standing up and moving around can literally save your life.
How Much Should You Stand and Sit During the Day?
After reading all these health benefits, it's tempting to buy a standing desk and stand for your whole day. If standing is so good for your health, standing more must be better, right?
Although sitting is harmful, exclusively standing has drawbacks as well. The trick is to balance both sitting and standing throughout your workday (and make sure to walk around once in a while too).
Current guidelines suggest you first work towards two hours per day of standing. Gradually build up your standing stamina so you can manage four hours a day, alternating between standing and sitting.
Use either a sit-stand desk or a simple standing desk riser. They'll make it easier for you to switch back-and-forth.
Once you have your schedule (and your stamina) worked out, what tasks can you do while standing? Are there things better done while standing? We'll discuss these questions in the next section. Let's go!
How Standing Helps with Some Basic Office Tasks
Alternating between sitting and standing offers you the best of both worlds. We've gone over the health benefits of each, but now the question is: is standing a productive way to work?
For many common office tasks, the answer is "yes." The mere act of standing appears to improve both working memory and executive function, both necessary skills for success.
Other parts of your brain might be utilized when sitting. As you alternate positions through your day, what should you try to accomplish while standing up?
Standing Up Makes You More Productive
First, let's qualify the upcoming points with the following caveat. What follows describes how most people work when standing or sitting.
After experimenting with your own standing desk, you will find your own work pattern. That's okay! There aren't any hard and fast rules here. Below is just a general summary you can work off of.
For many people, standing makes them more focused and productive. If you have an important project that must be completed right away, consider standing up. This is especially true if you know the end result and need to plow through it.
We all have work like this from time-to-time, and standing up can help you get it done faster! By contrast, many people sit down for projects requiring problem-solving skills or creative solutions.
Additionally, some people use sitting as a reward for fast, efficient work. If you let yourself sit down only after your work is completed, you will be far more productive!
Stand Up for Emails and Phone Calls
How many of us pick up the phone and immediately sit down? You don't have to do that. Why not stand while you are talking?
Similarly, most of us receive a slew of emails every day. Stand up while responding to them. You probably don't have to think too hard about many of them, and, as noted above, standing up will help you get through them faster.
Stand Up for Meetings or Collaborative Work
Ah, meetings! They seem to go on and on, and you sit there wondering if anything is really getting done.
For more productive (and, therefore, faster) meetings, try having everyone stand up. The sense of urgency conveyed by standing will cut your meeting time by 25%. You'll get more done in less time, and everyone can return to their own work more quickly.
Standing up also seems to foster collaboration. Use standard desks not only in official meetings, but also for any project where you have to work together.
Simply having everyone's desks at chest height improves conversations. More effective communication leads to better project results.
Conclusion: Standing Desk Tips
These, then, are some of the best standing desk tips. As you can see, standing up improves your health. It also aids productivity and efficiency when working alone, and makes it easier for groups to work together well.
Are you thinking of getting a standing desk converter? Why not check out our blog for information on ergonomic office desks and chairs (including standing desks)?
Feel free to contact us for more information. We're happy to help you find the standing desk that's best for you!