Are Standing Desks Better Than Sitting?

Tyson Sewell | Last updated Aug 4, 2022 | Published on Apr 6, 2022

You may well have heard the public health mantra that sitting is the new smoking, but you may not know exactly what it means. After all, surely sitting can’t be that big of a deal? And can standing at work really make any difference?

The truth is that our sedentary modern lifestyles are linked to a huge range of health issues, from back pain right up to obesity and heart disease. In fact, obesity and diabetes are reaching endemic proportions in the western world. And sitting still in the office job eight hours a day, five days a week is not helping.

Are standing desks better than sitting

With this backdrop, any way of building activity into our lives starts to seem like a positive move. And if you struggle, as many do, to find the time to build regular exercise around work and family life, perhaps standing as you work could be the answer you’re looking for after all? However, it’s not quite as simple as standing all day.

When it comes to the standing vs sitting debate, the truth is there isn’t a clear winner: both have their benefits, and using them in tandem maximises the effect. Neither sitting nor standing all day is the answer

Standing desks aim to offer an alternative to prolonged sitting, along with the host of associated health impacts. Below we’ll cover the benefits of both sitting and standing, and how to combine both to the best effect.

Is Standing Really Healthier Than Sitting?

Couple doing some work on a desktop

If you were forced to make a choice, standing for work all day would be marginally healthier than sitting all day. Your body would be more active, which helps speed the metabolism and promote good blood flow, both of which come with a host of health benefits attached. You also burn more calories standing than sitting, which we will talk about more later on.

However, standing all day would also have certain drawbacks. Predictably, back and neck pain, along with sore feet can be associated with prolonged periods of standing. Fatigue and a pronounced dip in energy levels can be expected if standing for longer than four hours at a time.

Sitting all day, however, would be much worse. Sitting in a stationary position for long periods, and regularly, can have serious health consequences. People who live sedentary lifestyles are more prone to be overweight or obese, have higher blood pressure, and are more likely to develop diabetes.

A standing desk is designed to help you achieve a balance, so you experience the benefits of standing and sitting combined.

Does Standing Help Strengthen Back?

If it’s a case of standing versus sitting, then on balance standing is better for strengthening your back.

While standing, not only do the muscles in your back need to support the weight of your upper body, they have to adjust to small movements as you shift your weight imperceptibly.

This can, of course, place strain on your back, which can lead to pain and injuries.

That said, sitting for prolonged periods, especially in the wrong posture or in an unsuitable chair, can be equally bad for the back and neck.

Standing desks allow you to alternate between seated and standing positions, meaning you are not stuck in the same position all day.

This maximises the benefits of standing, as you allow your back, core and postural muscles time to rest between workouts.

Woman standing at her workplace

How Long Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?

How long you should stand at your standing desk depends on you, your work style and how long you’ve been using standing desks. Those who are new to sit-stand desks should stand for 1-2 hours a day at first, to allow their bodies to adjust to standing.

Any decrease in sitting time will be a big plus. Depending on who you ask, for an experienced user anything up to 4-5 hours of an 8 hours day is recommended.

The truth is, to an extent you will just need to work out how long is best for you. The most important thing to remember is to vary your position often – so try to stand for 15 mins of each hour at first, for example.

It’s changing position often which gives the most benefit, so avoid prolonged sitting as this will maximise the gains to be had. Be consistent, and then increase the amount of standing week on week until your find a comfortable level.

Is It Bad To Use A Standing Desk All Day?

If you’re standing at your standing desk all day long, you may find you experience back pain, neck pain, and in some extreme cases cardiovascular problems. You will almost certainly be more fatigued at the end of your workday.

If you’re using your standing desk properly though, and alternating your position regularly, of course you can use your standing desk all day. In fact, if you regulate your standing and sitting time correctly, you may well feel a marked uptick in energy levels as the days wears on.

Is It Worth Getting A Standing Desk?

If you’re serious about maximising your health at your desk job, getting one of the top-rated standing desks in Australia is more than worth the investment. Standing desks are shown to be effective at offsetting the worst effects of modern living, especially if combined with an active lifestyle.

Standing desks promote good posture, strengthen the core muscles, and prevent the negative effects we would otherwise experience from extended periods sitting. The health benefits don’t stop there though: standing desks can help stave off heart disease and diabetes, and help us burn calories and lose weight while we work.

Standing desks are also known to be an excellent way of preventing neck, back and shoulder pain when compared to conventional desks. The reason for this is, even in the seated position, with a height-adjustable desk you can easily set your optimum height.

That means whether you’re sitting or standing, you can maintain the optimum position relative to the desk and monitor – crucial to avoid neck and back strain, as well as repetitive strain injuries and conditions such as sciatica.

Dual motor sit stand desks incorporate powerful lift motors and allows you to save preset positions, so finding the sweet spot is a simple as pressing a button.

adjustable stand up desk 3 screens

Do You Burn More Calories With A Standing Desk?

If you’re struggling to lose weight, it’s worth knowing that you definitely burn more calories standing than you do sitting. In fact, standing burns twice as many calories as sitting, so any time spent standing will help.

More importantly, keeping the body active helps speed up the metabolism and lowers blood sugar, which helps the body burn energy. And of course, that extra energy expenditure will help prevent weight gain.

Once again, alternating between sitting and standing will produce the greatest benefits.

Which Is Worse, Sitting Or Standing All Day?

On balance, the worst of the two probably is sitting. Sedentary living is shown to be associated with heart disease, weight gain/obesity, and diabetes. However, standing at you desk all day comes with its own problems, including an increased chance of back and neck problems, and even cardiovascular issues.

The best approach is to vary your position between sitting and standing during the day. This approach maximises the benefits of both, whilst mitigating any downsides along the way. Standing desks allow you to keep the body active without over fatiguing yourself or placing excess strain on your postural, back, and neck muscles.

So, it’s really not a case of standing vs sitting after all. The best way of protecting your health and wellbeing at work is to learn to live with both. Using a standing desk is a great way of achieving a good balance between seated and active working: check out our full standing desk range for more ideas.

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About The Author

Tyson Sewell

Tyson Sewell

I’m Tyson and I design furniture. More specifically, I design ergonomic furniture intended to improve the comfort and aesthetics of sit stand desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories.
You may learn more about my story by reading my bio here. Have a productive day!