Ever heard of standing desks? Chances are you’ve seen somebody invest in one by now – and for good reason, they’re growing fast in terms of popularity. If you’re an office worker with itchy feet, then standing desks may be the innovation for you.
Most people don’t know this, but standing desks also have a lot of advantages over regular desks. There are numerous health, productivity and mood-boosting benefits to standing desks that make them all the more attractive an investment.
This article outlines some of their many benefits and will summarise the various pros and cons of the standing desk, answering the question ‘are they worth it?’ Read on to find out.
What Is A Standing Desk?
Firstly, we should probably outline what we mean by a ‘standing desk’. ‘Don’t all desks stand upright?’ you ask. The difference here is that the user also stands up to work from the desk. Standing desks provide an alternative to the traditional office desk where workers are slumped into their seats all day. Many include adjustable height mechanisms, so that they’re suitable for people of all heights, postures and ages.
Not come across one of these before? They’re also alternatively known as ‘stand-up desks’, which is a bit more self-explanatory. The best standing desks can also be used as regular desks and are full adjustable. Changing the height of the desk thereby lets users alternate between sitting and standing.
Pros of Standing Desks
So now that you know what a standing desk is, we ought to let you in on why they’re so good. According to Business Wire, the global standing desk market is set to reach $2.8 billion by 2025!
Below we’ve outlined the reasons why sales of these desks are soaring, and detailed all of their additional benefits to help you decide whether standing desks are worth it.
1. Productivity Boost
Sitting down, or just generally limiting your motion for long periods can affect your energy levels and focus on the task in hand. If you’re working from home or you’re not quite ready to return to your horrible desk in the office, why not opt to boost your productivity with a new standing desk?
Research has shown that stand-up desks can boost your cognitive function, and a study by students at the University of Leicester in the British Medical Journal has proven that standing desks will improve productivity.
Sitting for hours on end will naturally stifle your creativity, whereas if you’re standing at a standing desk, you’re more likely to move around and be inspired by something in the room. By the same token, both your productivity levels and standard of work are far more likely to increase.
2. Reduced Weight Gain
Standing up all day? You’re naturally going to work off more calories. Standing desks help you to gain less weight from being sat at a desk all day, and in the long-term, this can prevent obesity and other weight-related health problems.
Ultimately, weight gain is caused by the body consuming more calories than it is burning. A study by CV-Library found that almost a third of UK workers claimed that their job had made them put on some weight – and the main reason given was sitting down at a desk all day, with more than 50% of people attributing this to their weight gain.
According to MedlinePlus, standing burns 47 more calories every hour than sitting down. Doesn’t sound like a lot? It certainly adds up over 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week – so a standing desk really could make a difference.
3. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Another unknown health benefit of the standing desk is that it can help to lower your blood sugar levels. This is significant, as people with high levels of blood sugar often have a much higher risk of becoming diabetic.
Findings from a study on PubMed concluded that avoiding sedentary behaviour at work could reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as hypertension or diabetes. One of the easiest ways to avoid staying sedentary for too long at work? A standing desk!
4. Reduced Back Pain
Standing up all day reduces that horrific pain office workers are prone to in their lower backs when working from a regular seated desk. It’s also one of the most common gripes about working from home, as many of us don’t take the level of care we should when it comes to our posture while working remotely.
According to the NHS, back pain is the leading cause of disability, and should be avoided at all costs. To alleviate back pain, try using a standing desk, as this can dramatically reduce the amount of prolonged sitting you will be prone to. Multiple studies into standing desks have also indicated that chronic back pain dramatically reduces when stood up for long periods.
5. Increased Mood & Energy Levels
Depression and anxiety are often linked with sitting still for long periods of time. It’s no secret that plenty of employees aren’t happy in their jobs, but one of the advantages of working remotely is that you can have more control of your office environment.
With a standing desk, you are more likely to boost your mood, as this kind of desk has been proven to have a positive effect on overall well-being. According to Forbes, standing while working can increase energy levels, since it improves both blood flow and brain activity.
Nobody does their best work when they’re slumped up and sapped of energy. So, why not try a standing desk and improve your well-being when working from home?
Cons of Standing Desks
Of course, standing desks can’t be without their negatives. Rather obviously, it certainly takes more effort to remain standing all day when you’re working from a stand-up desk.
When it comes to 4PM and you’re starting to flag, do you really want to be stuck in an upright position when you could be leant back and relaxing in a traditional office chair?
There are a couple of cons to working in this way, and we’ve outlined them below so you know what to expect when deciding whether a standing desk is worthwhile.
1. Aches & Pains
For all the good that standing desks do for your body, there are some equal negatives. Be prepared, if you’re not used to it, working on your feet all day can really feel brutal on your lower legs. Furthermore, much like sitting sedentary, standing can also aggravate bad posture if you don’t position your desk set-up correctly.
Some will be able to power on through until the end of the day, but if your only break is your lunch hour and you don’t get a chance to actually sit down for very long, you’re going to be a little achy come 5 o’clock.
Obviously, the whole idea of the standing desk is to stay standing and that this is good for you, however, after a ten hour slog, even the hardiest of folk will start to feel a little fatigued!
If you’re stood up, it’s a lot easier to pop away from your desk and lose focus on your work. The advantage of sitting down and tucking yourself under your desk is that your focal point is your computer or notebook.
Alternatively, if you’re at a standing desk, a colleague calling you from the other side of the room, or an attention-hungry pet crawling under your feet can easily capture your attention – instead of the task in hand.
In fact, there isn’t the most comprehensive set of scientific evidence that promotes the direct benefits of standing desks. Given that they are a relatively new product, there is a lack of long-term study into their benefits and this has led to many people discounting them as merely a fad.
Should I Invest In A Standing Desk?
So, is investing in a standing desk worth it? If you could benefit from some of the many pros of standing up while working all day, then you might want to consider purchasing one.
Keeping your weight gain down and lowering your blood sugar levels will be extremely beneficial for workers across the country who struggle with their health. Equally, the productivity and energy boosts gained from working from a standing desk can also put you in a good mood – and what better way to feel when working a 9-5?
However, if you’re not overweight, in-shape, and manage to burn calories and remain active in other ways such as going to the gym or by playing sport, then you may wish to reconsider.
As mentioned, there isn’t a massive amount of proven scientific study into standing desks, as they are a relatively new product. If you’re unsure as to whether standing up whilst at work is for you, then trying out a fully adjustable stand-up desk, that also works as a more traditional sit-down desk, could be the short term answer.