Understanding Where The Health Benefits from Using A Standing Desk Derive
Standing Desks—We Love Them! We Use Them! But Standing Desks Require Physical Work
Standing Desks are great pieces of office furniture that give you the freedom to sit, stand, and move more during the workday. That’s good, because breaking our traditionally sedentary office life by moving has been associated with a host of healthy outcomes including better circulation, improved energy, and decreased risk of long-term degenerative diseases. Whether you choose to replace your entire desk with an electric adjustable height office desk or convert your desk to standing with a less expensive sit-to-stand converter, your body will thank you for providing the freedom to stand up and move more during the work day.
Much of the positive press about standing desks makes sit/stand solutions seem like incredible, magic “cure-alls” for everything that ails you about working at a desk for long periods. The hidden truth is, standing all day isn’t exactly “relaxing” or easy. Proper use of a standing desk to maximize the physical and well-being benefits requires physical exertion that can lead to fatigue and frustration.
Where do the Health Benefits From Using a Standing Desk Come From?
Most research reports conclude that you don’t need to stand 24/7 for your health; instead, periodic movement is enough to achieve the reported health benefits. Part of the explanation is because many of the “benefits” from standing desk use don’t come from standing in a rigid, stationary position, but rather derive from the fact that standing allows and entices people to move more throughout the day. For example, transitioning from sitting to standing equates to movement. Once standing, people often sway side to side, shuffle their feet, adjust their stance … all are forms of subtle movement.
The fact that people move more when they use a standing desk is the key driver of the health benefits from using a standing desk.
Can your posture suffer when using a standing desk?
Using a standing desk can positively or negatively affect your posture. Sitting upright in a fixed position for long periods is generally not ideal for your structural health. Most desks don’t perfectly fit our physique, causing unnatural body contortions such as a forward lean, hunching, and an inward shoulder rotation so we can interact with our desk. Regularly sitting with poor posture in these contorted positions can lead to long term structural damage. Standing breaks up the monotony of sitting, which is beneficial for your posture and overall wellbeing. The problem is that most standing desks aren’t ergonomically optimized. Commonly, people still hunch even when using a standing desk! Hunching is caused by monitors that are positioned too low. One of the most common mistakes we see is when people purchase a new electric adjustable height office desk and place their monitor and keyboard directly on top of the desk! There’s no separation between your monitor and keyboard, which forces you to choose: either raise your desk high enough so your monitor is at eye-level but your arms are awkwardly positioned or lower your desk to type comfortably but hunch over a monitor that’s too low. Both options lead to poor posture and can cause structural damage to your body.
Standing Desks Require Work to Use and Properly Set Up
The solution to potential poor posture deriving from use of a standing desk is to accessorize your standing desk or standing desk conversion so you can properly hold monitors at eye-level and keyboards at about elbow-height. An adjustable monitor arm is a great tool that provide the flexibility to raise, tilt, swivel, and pan monitors to optimize screen viewing heights and angles.
A second important accessory to your standing desk is an under desk keyboard tray. An adjustable underdesk keyboard tray further separates your monitor and keyboard for optimal standing posture. An added bonus is that typing on an ergonomic keyboard tray is generally better for your overall wrist health.
Beyond the work required to properly setup your standing desk to optimize workplace ergonomics, use of a standing desk requires physical exertion. Don’t be fooled by all the press … standing all day at the office is a workout—not a “cure-all” to physical health.