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5 Benefits of Using an Adjustable Standing Desk

You might have heard quite a lot about standing desks. These desks, otherwise known as stand-up desks, allow their users to stay stood up comfortably while working and have been credited with various health benefits – including lowering risks of weight gain, heart disease and even early death.

However, so many supposed merits have been attributed to these desks that it’s easy to feel skeptical. What meaningful benefits do they really bring? Fortunately, a large body of research has attempted, largely successfully, to answer that question.

Nonetheless, if you’re considering investing in standing desks for your staff, you would do well to spend on the height-adjustable variety: sit-stand desks. Here are several good reasons why…

1. You want a gradual transition, not an abrupt change

Robert H Shmerling, MD, an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, vouches for several publicised benefits of standing desks, but warns in an article for Harvard Health Publishing that switching to one is an “intervention” that risks “side effects”. He cautions that “if you suddenly go from sitting all day to standing all day, you run the risk of developing back, leg or foot pain”.

For this reason, he advocates that, if you do make the switch, you ease it by initially standing for just 30 to 60 minutes daily before gradually increasing that time. There’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to how much time you should spend standing in a work day; therefore, you should simply experiment to see what works especially well for you.

This is where the particular usefulness of sit-stand desks comes in. With a desk of this type, you can easily adjust the height, allowing you to readily switch between sitting and standing as you prefer. Hence, they can prove worthwhile starter desks for staff unaccustomed to standing as they work.

2. Standing could assist in warding off heart disease

Standing’s association with improved heart health can be traced as far back as the 1950s, when a study revealed that bus conductors, whose jobs naturally required long periods of standing, were only half as likely to die of heart disease as their co-workers the bus drivers.

In the decades since, scientists have significantly deepened their knowledge of sitting’s ability to adversely affect heart health. It is now thought that, with a prolonged sedentary lifestyle, you could face a 147% increased risk of heart disease, as Healthline reports.

So serious are the negative effects of sitting that, according to one study, even intensely exercising for an hour could fail to entirely cancel out the heart health drawbacks of a whole day spent sitting.

3. Standing desks could help your workers to maintain or lose weight

Of course, if your employees are, outside of work, regularly engaging in physical activity, whether that be running, swimming or something else, that’s great news. After all, office workers are among the most sedentary staff, as a study published in the British Medical Journal and reported by HuffPost reveals that office workers sit for 70% to 85% of their time at work.

If you know that not all of your recruits are putting in the hours getting physically active, giving them standing desks could still nudge them in the right direction. While it’s easy to overestimate how many calories standing actually burns compared to sitting, research in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health puts the tally of calories burnt per hour at roughly 88.

That’s only 8 calories more than the 80 recorded for sitting, typing or watching TV, but that little extra will add up over several hours a day. Besides, those standing desks can help to spur increased weight loss by encouraging their users to take breaks more regularly.

No, not necessarily lengthy breaks – though, as research has further revealed, walking for just 30 minutes during a lunch break can shift about an extra hundred calories daily. Remember that, simply by standing, you already incline yourself to move around more often, as you are spared the extra step of moving back from your desk and getting up, Windows Central points out.

Even just stretching or dancing at your desk without leaving it could help you to burn additional calories, as iMore notes – hinting at how you can unlock further physical benefits…

4. Standing is better for your digestion and blood flow

As a general rule of thumb, the larger the spike in your blood sugar levels after you eat, the worse your health is affected – especially if you suffer from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. However, studies show that, when you spend more time standing, those levels fall back to normal sooner.

One small study of 10 office workers indicates that spending 180 minutes standing after lunch can reduce that spike by 43% in comparison to spending the same amount of time sitting. Another study, this one focusing on 23 office workers, reveals that switching between half-hour intervals of sitting and standing can, on average, drive down blood sugar spikes by 11.1%.

Ultimately, the sooner your usual blood glucose levels are restored following a meal, the better the situation bodes for your digestion and blood flow.

5. Your staff can become happier and more productive, too

If you’ve held off investing in standing desks for your own office, this could be out of concern that, ultimately, the change might pose too much disruption to your employees’ usual working practices. However, research suggests that your fear here could be ill-founded.

In one study looking at 60 young office workers, spending four hours a day using a standing desk led neither to more typing errors nor to users typing fewer characters per minute. Those peculiar desks could even increase productivity among your workforce, other research suggests…

Participants in one week-long study admitted that, when using standing desks, they felt less stressed and fatigued than workers who stayed seated for the whole work day. 87% of the group using standing desks also revealed that they felt more vigorous and energetic over that period of time.

The implications here are clear, especially when you also heed broader research indicating that sedentary time can increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety. Besides, an adjustable standing desk would enable you to tweak your positioning from time to time, thereby helping you to sharpen your mind and, in this way, increase your productivity.

As standing desks are available in various forms, this raises the question of how you might need to redesign your office to accommodate them. However, when the responsibility of redesigning falls largely into our expert hands, you can save yourself much anguish and eagerly anticipate boosted productivity.