What are the benefits of Standing Desks?

Standing Desk Benefits

Health

Health Standing Desk

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health disorders, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

In a 2018 study, researchers found that employees who moved or stood throughout the day reported feeling less anxious and depressed than those who sat for the full workday (1). The study aimed to have participants spend at least 60 minutes more than the control group standing during the workday. Participants noted their anxiety levels throughout the study, and around the three-month mark, many reported feeling less anxious.

This is most likely due to the endorphins released when you are standing that are not released while sitting.

Using a standing desk allows users to stand throughout the day and experience the benefits that come with that while also continuing to be productive while standing.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer globally and, in many cases, is something that could have been prevented. The CDC recently estimated that up to 80% of heart disease cases were preventable (2).

Often, we associate heart disease with people who are overweight or inactive, but a 2012 study at the University of Leicester found that people who spent extended amounts of time sitting had an increased risk for heart disease and death (3). This includes people who are active outside of their jobs but spend the majority of their day sitting.

A standing desk is an easy way to reduce the amount of time that someone spends being sedentary each day and also reduce their risk of heart disease.

Weakening

Many people who spend their days sitting at a desk hunched over their computer will complain about back, neck, or other body pain. This is because our posture tends to suffer when we sit at a desk for hours on end.

When sitting, your spine, particularly in the lower back, is compressed and under a lot of pressure. Using a standing desk allows your spine to be properly aligned and under minimal pressure. It’s similar with your neck and other body parts; standing up, they are in a natural and comfortable position, whereas sitting down they are strained, which causes pain over time.

Sitting all day can also be incredibly detrimental to your muscles as they get weak when they are not used. Often standing desks are much more customisable than traditional desks, the height can be easily adjusted, and some desks can even be tilted to different angles. This allows the user to find the perfect position where they can stand comfortably.

While many people report being sore for the first few days after transitioning to using a standing desk over time, their body will adjust, and they’ll see a significant decrease in daily pain.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the insulin produced by the pancreas and is no longer able to self-regulate blood sugar.

Studies have found that people who use standing desks rather than sitting have fewer blood sugar spikes (4). This can be beneficial for people who already have type 2 diabetes and those who might be at risk.

For those with type 2 diabetes, a standing desk can make their disease more manageable because it can help their blood sugar level stay more stable.

For people at risk of diabetes, having fewer blood sugar spikes will help their bodies to continue to react to insulin and self-regulate their blood sugar.

Cancer

Cancer is another disease that has been linked to sedentary lifestyles.

In recent years, countless studies have shown how a healthy lifestyle can help prevent cancer as well as increase survival rates in those already diagnosed. Many of these studies focus on diet looking at things like the connection between tumours and sugar or animal products.

It has also been found that exercising can lower the risk for many cancers. On average, one in every two people will develop cancer in their lifetime. The survival rate will depend on the specific type of cancer but across the board, people who spend the majority of their day sitting have are up to 80% more likely to die of cancer (5).

The same study showed that even just a few minutes of movement could significantly lower that risk. Using a standing desk for a few minutes every hour, or sporadically throughout your day could save your life.

Social

Teamworking Standing Desk

Energy

With the influx of technology in recent generations, we’re now sitting more than ever before with some adults spending 70% of their day seated.

Research has now shown that sitting too much can affect our energy levels similarly to how exercising does (6). To counteract what sitting does to your body, you need to take breaks throughout the day for light-activity.

Using a standing desk throughout the day, even for only a few minutes at a time, is a great way to get in some activity and can help you feel more energised and refreshed.

Mood

Many people noticed a change in their mood after using a standing desk. This is because standing increases blood flow and brain activity.

A study that compared two groups of workers over seven weeks found that there is a direct correlation between standing and your mood (7). In the study, group A received a standing desk and group B, the control group, did not. For seven weeks, group A spent on average one hour each day standing and reported improvements in many aspects of their health and wellbeing, including mood.

At the end of the study, the standing desks were taken away. Within two weeks, all members of group A had their mood return to what it had been before the study. This shows that their improved mood was not just a coincidence but a direct result of spending less time seated. 

Teamwork

Standing desks, and standing in general, have been found to promote teamwork within offices. For example, look at many tech companies and engineering teams who start their day with a stand-up meeting.

At these meetings, team members discuss what they did the day before, what they plan to work on that day, as well as any questions or issues they might have. This allows the team to work collaboratively from the start of each day as well as increase productivity because team members are more likely to ask for help.

Standing is an essential aspect of this meeting because it signals that this meeting is important and keeps people engaged.

The same can be said for desks. Employees at standing desks are more alert, and other people often find these employees more approachable. This can be because of their body language, among other factors. 

Brain

Working Standing Desk

Focus

Researchers have found that the use of standings desks can drastically improve your ability to focus (8). While standing may seem like it requires little to no effort, in reality, you are never totally still while you are standing, so it always requires some attention.

For this reason, researchers were unsure of whether this attention would be distracting or not. Recently they’ve discovered that the multitasking aspect of standing improves your selective attention allowing you to focus better on your work.

Creativity

A study at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis showed that people think better and more creatively on their feet (9).

The study had groups of students working in different environments, some with chairs and some without, to create a similar video. The groups were compared based on their final video as well as surveys the students completed throughout the process and measurements taken from sensors the students wore.

All of the data collected pointed to the same result that the students who worked in the environment without chairs and thought on their feet were the most engaged and created the most creative video.

Similar results can be found looking at individuals who work at standing desks versus those who sit. Often when someone feels unsure about how to solve a problem they’ve been staring at for a long time, the easiest solution is to take a quick walk or get a glass of water. Most times by the time they return to their desk, they’ve come up with a solution on their own or collaborated with a co-worker.

While standing desks can’t eliminate this problem, they do reduce the need for leaving ones desk to move and can decrease the amount of time needed to solve problems.

Productivity

A study completed by Texas A&M in 2013 found that standing desks boost productivity and that the positive trend continued over time (10).

The study looked at employees in a call center where some employees used standing desks, and others used traditional seated desks. Researchers then compared the number of calls in an hour that the employees were able to complete.

Employees with standing desks typically stood for 1.5 hours and had more successful calls than their seated co-workers. This increase in productivity and focus is because when you stand, your brain is more stimulated.

Many people also report feeling a sense of urgency to complete a task when they stand; they don’t feel when they are seated. No matter the exact reasoning behind it, multiple experiments and studies have shown that employees who have the option to work at a standing desk are at least 10% more productive than those who don’t.

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Sources

  1. https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k3870
  2. https://www.heart.org/en/get-involved/advocate/federal-priorities/cdc-prevention-programs#:~:text=An%20estimated%2080%25%20of%20cardiovascular,nearly%20%241%20billion%20a%20day.
  3. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2012/october/new-study-finds-that-sitting-for-protracted-periods-increases-the-risk-of-diabetes-heart-disease-and-death
  4. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/briefly-standing-or-being-active-reduces-blood-sugar-across-the-day/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/well/move/sitting-sedentary-exercise-cancer-risk.html
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996155/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23057991/
  8. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/to-focus-attention-think-on-your-feet-not-your-seat.html
  9. https://olin.wustl.edu/EN-US/Faculty-Research/research/Pages/take-a-stand.aspx
  10. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/standing-desks-boost-productivity-not-just-health-study-finds/2016/05/31/b7948390-2358-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html

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