Should You Use A Standing
Desk All Day?
By now, most of us are clued into the benefits of spending at least a part of our workday standing. Just in case though, standing at work (and the use of standing desks) is linked to a host of health and wellbeing benefits. Mostly though, the plusses lie in the fact that standing is not sitting.
Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are linked closely to the obesity epidemic. Sitting all day slows the body’s metabolism, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, raising blood pressure, and inhibiting our ability to break down body fat.
Keeping our bodies active all day is the best (and only) way of effectively offsetting the ill effects of our modern lifestyles. This is why, then, many people now favour standing desks, which allow them to alternate between sitting and standing.
How much standing is actually healthy though? Is it possible that if we commit too far in the other direction, we might experience drawbacks we hadn’t expected? Can you actually use a standing desk for the whole day?
How Many Hours Should You Be Standing In A Day?
Many standing desk users (and those considering a purchase) are unsure exactly how much they should be standing on an average day.
This article aims to help you find the right balance for you, by answering some of the bigger questions our customers have about how to best use our desks.
We all know that an active lifestyle is key to keeping healthy, but finding the time to build in exercise around work and family can be challenging.
Even if you manage to hit your recommended minutes of exercise each week, packing this in at the beginnings or ends of otherwise sedentary days limits the actual gains you get from your hard work.
So, you’ve made a commitment to yourself and your good health, to be more active at work and to build standing into your workday. But how often should you raise your standing desk, and for how long?
Knowing that you need to spend some of the day in the standing position is fine: but clearly, you need a little more detail and guidance on your sit-stand desk to get the maximum benefit.
There is some debate around how to use a standing desk correctly. Some studies suggest that ideally you would spend around two hours of an eight hour workday standing, which equates to a sitting standing ratio of 3:1. Others put it at more like half and half.
So, what proportion of your workday should you spend standing? This depends to an extent on you, and how experienced you are with your standing desk. Newer users will need time for the underused postural and leg muscles to strengthen, so should spend more time sitting at first. You should be able to build up to two hours a day fairly soon.
If you’ve been using your sit stand desk for a while now, or perhaps have a workstyle that means you’re on your feet often already, you can up the ratio to four hours a day, which is a straight 1:1. If you feel like you’re between those two posts, then adjust the ratio accordingly.
Ultimately, you need to judge what is the most comfortable and the most beneficial to you. We’re all different, and as useful as the ratio’s above are, you will know if you’re standing too little or two much at your desk job.
Is Standing For 8 Hours Bad?
Near the top of this article, we asked if standing at your computer screen all day could be as bad as sitting all day. Well, the answer is, not quite: although too much standing has its own drawbacks, they’re not quite as dramatic as those associated with prolonged periods spent sitting.
That said, they’re well worth thinking about as we consider how long we should best use our sit stand workstations. Standing for extended periods is unsurprisingly linked with lower back and leg pain, placing strain on the back and leg muscles and helping to exacerbate bad posture.
Excessive standing is also associated with cardiovascular problems, and the additional energy expenditure contributes to fatigue. It is common for workers who stand all day to report discomfort in their feet, and also around the back and neck.
That said, many people spend all day on their feet without adverse effects – think of a waitress, for example. Even if you spend a lot of your day on your feet, moving away from your desk and varying your position frequently will offset many of the ill effects of stationary standing.
How Often Should You Stand Up?
One of the most important things to know is that it’s not so much how much, but how often you stand that will have the biggest impact. Although it may be tempting to do all of your standing in one or two chunks, the real benefit comes from varying our position as often as possible throughout the day.
That’s why, ideally, you would break up every hour into segments of sitting and standing. Depending on your experience, strength/fitness levels, or any injuries, aches or pains you are carrying, you should settle on a sitting standing ratio as discussed above.
Then try to break up your hours thus: so, if you’re ratio is 3:1, remember to stand for 15 minutes of each hour, and so on. As you get more experienced you may up the ratio of course.
But varying between sitting and standing as often as possible will have the most profound effect. This will not only boost the metabolism and blood flow: it helps prevent muscles from seizing, back pain, strains, and a host of related aches and pains.
Are Standing Desks Good For Posture?
Standing desks help strengthen the postural muscles: the muscles that support your back, neck, hips and legs in keeping you upright.
Often underused, standing desks give you the opportunity to work these muscles out as you make tiny movements during the workday.
This in turn further strengthens your core and postural muscles, helping you maintain good posture whether sitting or standing.
What Are The Benefits Of Standing?
The benefits of standing desks are closely pegged to the health risks and drawbacks of our increasingly sedentary habits and lifestyles. Standing during the workday helps offset the health problems, aches, strains and pains associated with sitting for prolonged periods.
Stops You From Sitting All Day
Standing for part of the day, or more to the point, varying position from sitting to standing regularly during the day, can help offset the negative effects of sitting for extended periods.
That means it helps speed the metabolism, aiding the body in its struggle to burn fat, regulating blood sugar levels and helping lower blood pressure. It also helps promote healthy circulation. All of this, in turn, lowers the risk of heart disease or other obesity-related health issues.
Do Standing Desks Boost Productivity?
This increase in comfort and energy levels helps lessen the effects of fatigue, which helps to boost productivity during the workday. Call center employees in one study boosted their productivity by nearly 50% simply by using standing desks for part of the day.
Can A Standing Desk Help Me Lose Weight?
Yes. As we discussed above, standing for part of the day will help keep your metabolism up to speed, so your body burns energy more efficiently during the day. On top of this though, the body burns nearly twice as many calories when standing as it does sitting, which means standing desks, paired with a healthy lifestyle, can help manage weight gain and keep you trim.
Can Using A Standing Desk Prevent Injuries?
Varying your position from sitting to standing also allows the muscles and joints to reset and helps distribute the strain over the day. This ensures that no one muscle group has to do all the heavy lifting, helping prevent strains, aches, and posture-related repetitive strain injuries.
This in turn could save you from a world of neck problems, back issues and shoulder pain.
Is Standing Too Much Unhealthy?
Although it is good to vary between sitting and standing positions during the day, overdoing your standing time can have some health drawbacks as well. At the more severe end of the scale, standing still too much has been linked to cardiovascular issues, as the heart struggles to keep the blood flowing around the body.
Too much standing is also related to increased fatigue and lower energy levels, which can have knock-on effects on productivity. Back and neck pain, as well as foot pain, are often reported by workers who spend extended periods on their feet.
All of these issues can be offset by alternating regularly between a sitting and standing position throughout the day.
Is It Bad To Use A Standing Desk All Day?
It is certainly not bad to use a standing desk all day – but it is probably not a good idea to use it upright all day. It is important to find the right balance for you between sitting and standing.
If you find that you begin to ache after an hour or so of standing, you should listen to your body and take that as your cue to sit down. Equally, if you find yourself seizing up from sitting for too long, that will be a good time to stand. So long as you are varying position regularly you shouldn’t notice too many negative effects from too much standing.
How To Use Your Standing Desk Correctly
Change Sit-Stand Position Frequently
So, using your standing desk too much (or too little) can be a problem. To use your standing desk correctly, you need to regulate your standing time, alternating between sitting and standing fairly regularly. You should aim to spend between 15-30 minutes of each work hour in a standing posture.
Invest In A Good Chair
How much you stand exactly or how often you change of course will depend to some extent on your body and your work style. Pairing your standing desk with an ergonomic office chair is a good idea to help you sit straight, and protect your back and neck when sitting.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining the correct posture and alignment to your desk and computer monitor when both sitting and standing is key. Although we don’t have space to go into detail here, there are a few factors to consider that apply to both positions.
In both cases, you ideally want your arms bent at roughly 90 degrees, with your arms level to the desk and wrists straight. Your eyes should be roughly level with the top of the monitor.
You must maintain the correct wrist position, which luckily is defined by the height of the desk. Choose a desk with powerful motors and the ability to save preset positions like the Ergo Edge Dual and this is relatively easy – especially as it is designed with a stylish beveled cutaway in the desktop to help optimise position.
Keeping level with your monitor in each position is more challenging. Monitor arms allow a lot more flexibility than traditional monitor stands, which you would probably need to leave fixed in a neutral position.
Monitor arms allow you to easily adjust the height when you change positions – even for multi-monitor screen rigs. The Dual Monitor Mount allows a full range of movement for two screens, and attaches to the back of the desk securely to minimise movement in transition.
Anti Fatigue Mats
To combat fatigue when standing, and especially if your feet can get sore from time to time, you should consider pairing your desk with an anti-fatigue mat. Often designed to stimulate movement and blood flow, anti-fatigue mats do more than just cushion your feet.The Ball Anti Fatigue Mat even incorporates a massage ball to help soothe your feet and stimulate blood circulation.
So long as you vary your position often, and are careful to manage your sitting and standing time, there is no reason why you can’t use a standing desk all day. Finding the best balance, and the best desk for you is key. Desky have standing desks to suit all spaces and budgets.
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