You know those movies and TV shows where the main characters comes in after a long day of hard work, takes off their shoes, and sinks into the most comfortable looking chair ever?
Ah yes, the good life. The reward for the hours of effort and labor done. To me, this always looked like heaven. I wanted to grow up and get that plush lazy boy recliner. Who wouldn’t?
That was before I found myself spending long periods of my day sitting, sitting, and then sitting some more.
Think about it, from getting to work, sitting in class, conducting business in front of your computer; you’re sitting. Maybe it’s grabbing lunch with your friend, studying for a test, having a drink in the bar, the list goes on. Whatever it is that you do, it is pretty safe to say that sitting is a big part of your day.
I’m not saying you should be running around on your feet all day. While it is mostly comfortable, it is also just about one of the worst things we could do for our bodies.
Sitting for long periods of time is HORRIBLE for you
There will be a more detailed section later, but in short, when you spend a lot of time sitting, instead of standing, or being active you:
- Put increased pressure on your joints
- Increase your risk for cardiovascular disease
- Gain weight
- Suffer from back, neck, and shoulder pain
- Ruin your posture
- Increase your risk of type 2 diabetes
These are just a few side effects of prolonged sitting. Why are we doing this to ourselves? WHAT can we do to change this behavior?
As it turns out, just by making one simple change, you can cut down how much you sit by 50% or more.
Look into getting a standing desk.
What Is A Standing Desk?
Also known as a stand-up desk, or standing workstation, a standing desk is simply a desk that allows you to stand up while working. It’s not a difficult concept, but it seems difficult to implement in your life.
Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, these work stations were mainly used by the wealthy and the elite, but nowadays anyone can afford and benefit from using one. Join the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo da Vinci, and Winston Churchill; all of who used standing desks. In fact, the affordability of standing desks has made them common furniture in many homes and offices.
But affordability is not the only reason why you should get one for yourself or your family; for home or office use. According to multiple studies, standing desks come with plenty of health benefits that you can’t really afford to miss out on.
Who Can Benefit From Using a Standing Work Station?
They’re made for everyone. Frankly, because everyone could use them.
There is no single target market for these work stations, so even you can use one regardless of your occupation. Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that people who stand to gain more from using a stand up work station are people whose daily routine involves sitting down for many hours.
So, if your line of work requires you to turn into a couch potato, then it is definitely time to consider a switch from your sitting desk to a standing one. Even if you’re job requires for you to sit, think of all the other opportunities to stand, like when using your computer at home, or doing homework, folding laundry, or a reviewing a product for the following day.
Every little bit helps.
Most modern designs can be adjusted in a number of ways so that you can change the desk’s height, tilt, and other features. This means you can alternate between sitting and standing, so you don’t just have to pick one or the other. Standing takes up more energy than sitting and every once in a while you might want to take a little break. This definitely will happen more often at the beginning, especially if you’re not used to keeping your posture upright for such a long period of time. Like any good habit, it does take a little time to form, so it is important to get started as soon as possible.
An adjustable desk it will eliminate the need for two separate desks in your office or home (one for sitting and the other for standing), so you get the best of both worlds. We will review the different options and designs later in the article.
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Benefits of Using a Standing Desk
As mentioned earlier, standing desks come with many health benefits that make buying one a great investment. After all, you can’t put a price on your health.
Here are the main ones to consider:
- Burns calories
Whether you are among the many people who are battling weight gain, obesity, or you simply want to stay fit and healthy, a standing desk is the way to go.
According to research, standing increases your heartbeat by an average of ten beats every minute, compared to when you are seated. That translates to your body burning an additional 25 to 50 calories per hour when standing. That’s means you’ll burn up to an extra 150 calories just for standing for 3 hours.
Simply put, when you use a standing desk, your body will burn more fat and use more calories. This will result in you losing weight and strengthening the muscles in your body for a lean, fit look. Exercise is still important, but if you’re pressed for time and can’t always make it to the gym, do your part to keep yourself healthy just by standing.
- Increases life expectancy
You might be surprised to learn that standing and mortality are related, more than you would think.
A 2009 Canadian study found that the more you sit, the more you increase your risk of death from all causes. Yet another study concluded that sitting for less than 3 hours a day increases your life expectancy dramatically.
The problem is most modern professions, and even school setups, require you to sit for too many hours a day. But this doesn’t have to be the case. That is where a standing desk comes in handy. If you have one in the office or at home, you highly increase your chances of outliving your colleagues by years.
- Reduces back pain
If you spend most of your day sitting, you probably already know how it contributes to back pain. Even if it’s just a mild nuisance now that you can live with, over time the condition becomes chronic – meaning that it won’t be treatable. Why wait for that to happen when you can do something about it now?
It is as simple as replacing your traditional desk with a standing desk.
According to a CDC study, office workers who replaced their sitting desks with sit-stand desks reported a 54% decline in back pain after just 4 weeks. If you can’t get a sit-stand design at least add a standing desk to your office as a supplement to your traditional one and try to spend more time standing instead of sitting.
- Lowers your blood sugar levels
When you sit after eating, your blood sugar increases dramatically; which is not a good thing. This is especially true if you suffer from insulin resistance or type II diabetes. If you don’t have either of those conditions, sitting will increase the risk of developing them. On the other hand, standing after having a meal prevents your blood sugar from spiking.
What does that mean? Why is this important?
It means after your lunch at the office, or dinner at home, you can avoid sitting down and instead, use the standing desk, to balance your blood sugar. Research shows that by doing so, you will reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes (and thus type II diabetes) by a whopping 43%.
- Supports a healthier heart
According to a 2008 study, prolonged sedentary time (time spent primarily sitting) is linked to a higher metabolic risk and increases your chances of getting a heart attack as much as smoking does. Sounds scary, right? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Health experts reveal that prolonged sitting increases your risk of suffering from heart diseases by up to 147%. A situation that even daily one-hour intensive exercises can’t reverse.
The solution? You guessed it use a standing desk more. It’s simple, the more time you spend on your feet, the lower the risk of a heart attack and other heart-related diseases. Investing in a standing desk is nothing compared to what you stand to suffer if you spend all day in a chair.
- Increases energy level
Generally speaking, standing desks appear to improve mood and increase energy levels. A 7-week study showed that the more you sit while working, the more you feel stressed and exhausted.
The opposite is true – when you spend most of your working time on your feet, you will noticed an increase in vigor and energy, and not just while you are working but throughout the whole day.
It is no surprise that a prolonged sedentary routine is linked with anxiety, stress, and depression. Who wants to be sad, feel better about yourself and all those around you by spending more time on your feet.
- Increases productivity
While no conclusive study found a standing desk to improve productivity directly, there is one that concluded that using the desk does not affect your work rate. One of the most common excuses to not switch to a standing work station is the belief that it will slow down your work or make you less productive. This just isn’t true.
The research involving 60 subjects established that using a standing desk did not hinder their performance of daily tasks at all.
While this is not a direct improvement in productivity, when you consider that a standing desk will improve your mood, boost your energy, help you stay fit and in shape, and regulate your blood sugar (which plays a role in energy level), you realize that it will create all the necessary conditions for improved productivity.
We’ve talked about the benefits of a standing work station, but we should mention there are some things to take into consideration before using one.
Here are the main disadvantages to keep in mind while you shop around for best model for you:
- Sore feet: during the first few days of use, you will experience sore feet as your body tries to adjust to the change in routine from constantly sitting to standing. Fight through it; this should go away within a week or two. The best way to reduce soreness is to wear comfortable shoes, take breaks when you need to, or look into a padded anti-fatigue mat. These are great for reducing some of the pressure on your knees and ankles and really help you work longer without getting achy.
- Not good for all jobs: some jobs require you to sit and not stand. Let say you need to take meetings where your clients sit, or you’re working from your company’s computer that just can’t be raised higher from the floor. There are always these instances that can’t be avoided, that’s understandable. What you can do, though, is look into getting one for your home. Remember every hour you stand instead of sit really improves your health.
All in all, the advantages of using a standing desk significantly outweigh the associated disadvantages. In fact, you will notice that the cons are only limited to the adjustment period, as your body tries to adapt to the changes that come from switching from a sitting to a standing routine.
Types of Standing Desks
The best way to ease your transition from sitting to standing is by choosing the right desk for you. As these workstations become more and more popular, and their demand increases, manufacturers are becoming more creative with their products. This is a good thing because it means you now have a variety of models to choose from, one that is perfect for you.
Each model can generally fit into one of the following categories and sub-categories:
Fixed standing desks
They are called fixed because you cannot adjust their height. With a fixed standing desk, to change the height, you will have to dismantle it completely and adjust it to your new height upon reassembly.
There are two types of fixed standing desks: i) desktop risers and ii) fixed-height standing desks.
1) Desktop risers
A desktop riser is just an additional desk that rests on top of your current sitting desk. It is a smaller unit that elevates your platform to a standing height.
Most desktop risers are foldable; which makes them very portable and perfect for you if your work involves moving from one workstation to another. The biggest benefit of using this type of desk is that it won’t take away the function of you current desk completely. The two desk complement each other, and you have complete control over when and how often you want to stand switch between the two.
2) Fixed-height standing desks
These are desks that are designed as complete stand-up desks – i.e. they don’t need to be put on top of another desk. There are many ready-made models in the market to choose from, or you can get a customized one that has all the features you need (like drawers).
Although most people consider fixed standing desks to be ergonomically “incorrect,” they are very affordable and will still offer you the option to stand up while working; which is the main aim after all. This is the idea picture if you are just shopping for something simple, or working on a budget.
Adjustable standing desks
If you want a standing desk that will really offer value for your money, then you might want to look into an adjustable type. Adjustable standing desks differ from fixed ones because you can adjust their height as you like. This is great because it gives you the flexibility to switch depending on what you’re doing and your needs.
For example, if you’re working on the computer or writing, you may want your desk surface to be raised. However, if you’re reading or folding laundry, it would be better for the desk to be lowered. With an adjustable standing desk, you can eliminate the discomfort by simply adjusting the desk’s height.
Just like fixed standing desks, adjustable desks come in two different types:
1) Mechanical adjustable standing desks
Just from the name, you can already tell what this desk is all about. While you can change its height as you like, you will have to do this manually using some type of lever – the hand-crank style.
These are usually a bit cheaper than the electric type and don’t really require you to spend a lot of time or energy when adjusting the height.
2) Electric adjustable standing desks
These types of desk run slightly more than the mechanical version, but they pack on a whole array of features that are very handy.
With these models, you can simply adjust the height of the desk with a push of a button. They use the same technology that lift systems use to move the desk up or down.
Great for people who alternate a lot between different workstation heights or don’t want to lose their train of thought while working on a project. Plus electrically adjustable standing desks are a little more elegant compared to their manual counterparts.
Probably just like sitting, the thought of standing up all day doesn’t sound amazing. Sometimes people just want to sit right? Your body needs a rest, you find that it’s more comfortable to read while sitting, or whatever reason it is, sometimes you just want to sit.
This is where sit-stand desk come into the picture. This type of model allows you to stand while working and also sit when you need to. Perfect.
Nowadays some high-end models add even more luxury to your working experience by offering you more choices. Instead of just the traditional sitting and standing, some desk allow you to sit in a reclined position, like an astronaut with your laptop attached comfortably in front of you.
Whether this is a luxury you want, or your budget allows for, is up to you, but the point is, there are a variety of options for you to pick from. You can certainly find a standing desk that fits budget and needs.
Standing Desk Buyer’s Guide
Ok, you’re convinced, now the question is – how do you pick the best standing desk for yourself?
If you want to choose a standing desk that will suit your needs perfectly, there are a couple of other factors you should consider besides just what type of desk you want. Remember, this is something you’re going to be using every day, or almost every day, so it needs to be both comfortable and practical.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Decide whether you want a ready-made or custom-made standing desk
You probably already have an idea of the standing desk that you want, but would you rather a ready-made one or one where you can personalize all the features?
If you’re happy with a ready-made one, is likely to be cheaper and available for purchase today. Simply choose a model that stands out to you and wait for delivery.
Your other option is to have a custom made standing desk, where you can specify your preferences for each of the features. The downside to this option is that it generally is a little bit more expensive than a standard model, and you will have to wait while it is being built. However, with this option, you will end up with exactly what you’re looking for, and you’ll definitely be able to use your standing work stations for years and years to come.
Nowadays some manufacturers allow you to go online and give the specifications of what you want, and they will make it for you; this simplifies the process and makes ordering hassle free.
The amount of money you have to spend will determine the type of features that you can get on your standing desk. We have already covered the different types of standing desks above. If you’re are working on a tight budget, then a fixed standing desk is probably the best place to start your search. However, if cash isn’t a major concern; you should opt for an adjustable or sit-stand desk because those two come with convenience and class in one package.
How much stuff it can hold
You will also want to know whether the standing desk you want to buy can accommodate all your stuff. Some have a limited surface space that will only support your laptop, while others have a much larger area and easily support additional paperwork, cups, pens, and other items as well.
See what you want and need to have on your desk and look for one that will allow you easy access to these items. Make sure you take into consideration the weight limit of the units.
The time you will spend sitting and standing
How many hours of your day will you spend standing and sitting? It is recommended that you don’t spend more than 3 hours sitting, but of course, this depends on what job you have. The longer you will be standing, the more important it is that you look into anti-fatigue mats, and adjustable desk and sit stand desk.
However, if you know for sure that you’ll be seated most of the time, you can compromise on one or a few features that support standing. Instead, focus on what the desk offers such as cost, surface area space, and if it is adjustable.
Ultimately, if you will be switching back and forth, or don’t entirely know how much you’ll be using your desk, a sit-stand desk is the best choice because it offers both.
What kind of space are you working with? Take a look at specifications, and see how big the desk is and determine if you have enough room in your home or office for it. Your desk should hold everything you need, fit in the space you have available, and still, allow you enough room to move around comfortably.
Some desk can foldable or can collapse, which might be a good option.
Today’s standing desks come with premium features that might come in handy for you. There are several add-ons that you can select to go with your model, including drawers, PC holders, keyboard trays, grommets, control panels and much more.
See what options are available and will come in handy for you. Just keep in mind, that every add-on increases the price of the desk. Therefore, the best idea is to only buy what you need.
Construction and design
Find a desk that you can use for years to come.
Like any other furniture, a strong and sturdy product from a trusted manufacturer is usually your best bet. Don’t just look at the overall style and design, but pay attention to the quality of the individual parts as well.
Look at the legs, motors, surfaces, drawers, and control panels to ensure that they are made of the best materials possible. For peace of mind, you might also want to choose a product that is covered under warranty. Many companies offer either a full product or individual parts warranty. So that if you have any problems, you’ll have no trouble getting a replacement
Take some time to pick a standing desk that will match the color and décor of your other furniture, both at the office and at home. This might not be the most important factor to consider, but they will certainly add class to your office or home’s layout.