Standing desks have become a popular alternative to a traditional sitting desk in many workplaces. The taller surface encourages standing and movement throughout the workday, which can counteract some of the negative effects of spending forty hours a week sitting still. (Image source)
While stand-up desks have been all the rage, new studies and user testimonials are suggesting that standing desks may not be a perfect solution to occupational health hazards. Sitting and standing desks both have positives and negatives. So choosing which desk style is right is a decision no one can make but you.
Using a Sitting Desk
Sitting at a full-time job for many years can increase weight gain and influence a variety of weight-related health conditions, like diabetes. But for many people, sitting is a comfortable, accessible way to get their work done.
The best way to avoid health problems related to occupational sitting is to maintain movement throughout your day. As we’ll touch on later in this article, maintaining activity throughout your day can help your body remain limber and counteract some of the occupational health risks that come from remaining sedentary. Similarly, when sitting at your desk, ensure your body is comfortable and maintaining proper alignment throughout the supporting structures in your body. The best way to do so is with ergonomic adjustments to your workspace.
Using a Standing Desk
Stand-up desks have risen to sudden popularity within the past five years. But standing desks have been around for far longer — even back two hundred years Benjamin Franklin was known to have used a standing desk. A study looking at productivity found that people using standing desks had an increase in productivity while working.
When you first begin using a standing desk, anticipate some fatigue through the legs and feet. Your body is getting used to the change in orientation. Gradually build the amount of time you stand at your desk each day to acclimate your body. If you go from years of sitting to exclusively using a standing desk in a day, your body might rebel with tension or strain. Listen to your body as you adapt. If you notice any fatigue from standing, transition back to a sitting desk for an hour or two. An anti-fatigue mat beneath your feet while standing can help to reduce tension, too.
Everybody is Different
While a standing desk may be beneficial to one person, another might find standing throughout the day adds strain to their body. It can be tempting to make blanket statements about whether standing or sitting is better, but it’s a judgement only you can make. If you’re prone to lower back pain, you may notice that sitting for extended periods exacerbates that problem. On the other hand, someone else with lower back pain may notice that standing increases tension.
Choosing between a sitting or standing desk is a personal choice that depends on your body. Take into account your physical state with any injuries or strains your body experiences and in what positioning your body is most comfortable. If you have a friend or coworker who uses a standing desk, see if you can try it out for an hour. Your body knows best.
Ergonomics are Important
The best way to keep your body limber and #healthy is mixing up your movement. Whether you use a sitting or #stand-up #desk, your body can benefit from motion and activity.Click To Tweet
Whether you are using a sitting or standing desk, it’s important to ensure proper desk ergonomics. Simply put, your workspace should fit your body. A desk of proper height ensures that, sitting or standing, your body can maintain natural alignment.
With a sitting desk, use a comfortable chair that allows you to sit all the way back with your feet flat on the floor. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you and comfortably reachable with arms parallel to your body, elbows bent at a ninety-degree angle.
You want to have a similar positioning with a stand-up desk. The desk surface should be a comfortable height for writing and using a computer. A desk that’s too high or too low can strain the back and arms when the body is out of a biomechanical neutral range.
If you’re interested in further education or personalization of ergonomic posture for your body, visit your nearest chiropractor for support.
Mix It Up
The ideal solution for most people is regular movement throughout the day. Making a habit of regularly leaving your desk space to take a stroll around the office for five or ten minutes every hour can help alleviate any aches or pains that can be acquired through sitting or standing for too long. A study looking at energy expenditure found that there wasn’t a significant difference in energy used by the body between sitting and standing, but there was a significant difference when compared with walking.
Standing for prolonged periods of time can cause just as many negative bodily effects as forty hours a week sitting, like higher rates of heart disease found in this study. Like most physical activities, moderation and variety are key. Take the time throughout your work day to get up and move around. Instead of sending an email off to a coworker, walk over to their desk to speak with them in person. Start a walking group with friends or coworkers on your lunch break. And if your body begins to feel stiff while working, take a minute to step away from your desk and do some light stretching.
Our bodies enjoy movement. When held in static positions for too long, the muscles and bones holding that position grow fatigued. The best way to keep your body limber and healthy is mixing up your movement. Whether you use a sitting or stand-up desk, your body can benefit from motion and activity.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.
He became passionate about being one of the best chiropractors in Wasilla after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.
Do you use a sitting desk or a stand-up desk?
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Top Photo Credit: By Kennyrhoads [CC BY-SA 4.0