How do standing desks ergonomically compare to sitting desks?
I work on a standing desk and have a lot to say about standing during work. I need to be clear though: I do not use a traditional standing desk. I have simply re-positioned things so that I can stand and work effectively from a common everyday computer desk. Ergo, what I do is not based on anyone’s particular desk or style. I’m just talking about the concept of a standing desk, one you could put together yourself with some books or boxes stacked under your monitor.
Standing desks are better than sitting desks, from health, productivity, and well-being perspective. They’re more active, it’s easier to move around a bit if you want, you can easily move back and forth from your computer without feeling like your world got turned upside down seriously, sitting is weird when you think about it), and finally, it’s more fun!
But point number 1, above all else: sitting in the same posture for hours on end, day after day, can cause serious health problems. It’s also worsened by stressful work situations, as clenching up in a chair and not moving around is a very bad idea if you want to release stress.
I’m not against sitting entirely, like some standing desk people can be. There are desks that switch back and forth, which is cool, and when you’re not doing work, relax and sit, lie, squat, or Exorcist walk however you like! I just think that when you’re at a desk to do a job, it helps to stay on your feet, improves blood flow to the brain or something. I’m not a scientist, I haven’t looked up the science much beyond the basic pop knowledge, but I know the difference I felt when I tried it, and I haven’t gone back.
I work far less for more money than I used to, and one smaller, but still significant, part of reaching that point was developing some ergonomic awareness. Let’s explore the ergonomic differences between working at a standing desk and a sitting desk.
Since our childhood days, we are told to sit up straight. Standing is also discouraged. Standing while other people sit is considered haughty or discourteous. Our entire culture is more or less based upon choosing where next we are going to sit down and do nothing for a few hours.
Well, regardless of what people prefer and how society functions to give them those things, sitting for a long time isn’t healthy at all, because the less a body moves, the more prone it is to health problems or loss of capabilities. In other words, use it or lose it. The more you stand regularly, the better you are at everything else that requires standing. It’s the most baseline level of endurance fitness, and it should absolutely not be neglected like it is for most people.
For all the exercise buffs out there, standing obviously burns way more calories than sitting, which will add up over time. To be clear, standing for excessively long periods of time is a bad idea. It’s not as effective as walking when it comes to posture and overall health, and prolonged standing is not an alternative to regular exercising. You can also mess up your feet by standing too long, especially if you have very stuff, rigid way of standing at the desk. If getting up and taking the first step out of bed in the morning feels uncomfortable or painful, stop what you are doing immediately and re-assess.
Although careless, excessive standing can hurt various parts of the legs or feet, this is usually incredibly obvious and easy to address so that the problem withers away completely. Conversely, studies show that workers who sit for long hours can be prone to obesity, cancer, and heart problems. The so-called lifestyle of long working hours can cause serious health problems, if not handled properly, and a sedentary sitting-based lifestyle is doubly bad.
Now then, here are some effects shown to potentially be caused by a sedentary, sitting-based lifestyle.
#1 It affects the spine, shoulders, and similar critical points of posture.
#2 It increases the possibility of cancer.
#3 It can cause obesity.
#4 It can cause boredom and might drag a person into negative thoughts and mental wellbeing issues.
#5 It can cause blood clots to form in the legs, from a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), causing chest and heart pain.
I know personally that sitting led to a very slumped, lethargic lifestyle. I gained weight and became accustomed to absorbing media from a reclined position at all times, and also working from there. It was incredibly awkward, and I did not realize it until in retrospect after I had gotten used to a standing desk.
Mainly, I would just say that the kind of life that is conducive to sitting all the time, including at work, is not the kind of life conducive to good health and a balanced sense of being. The full list of negative impacts about sitting and the research behind it is something you can easily find. It’s more or less understood that sitting is killing us.
Seeing the impacts, many companies have shown concern towards their employees, and ergonomic specialists are now a fairly common thing, people who help minimize the serious impacts of long sitting. Let me know if you’re interested in stuff like that, it’s kind of on the cusp between fitness and entrepreneur life.
Now, let’s quickly discuss the pros of standing desks. This is ignoring the most obvious and awesome benefit of standing desks, that they make you shed weight like a boss. Let me know if you’re curious about maximizing your standing desk activity for weight loss specifically, as that’s a great motivator to commit to that more active style of working.
Anyway, here are the other pros:
#1 I find it easier to maintain a decent posture while standing than while sitting. Not sure why.
#2 It boosts confidence and focus when you stand up straight,.
#3 The size is adjustable for short and long people, as the desk is just like an iron stand.
#4 A relaxed bide pal (standing) posture helps balance digestion, and in general, I have been getting into eating while standing, and noting some benefits from that too.
#5 Fewer headaches and eyestrain due to not as much pressure on the head, neck, and shoulders. I could go on, but those ones came to mind this time. 😉
Per my experience, and as recommended by ergonomic specialists, standing desks are better both physiologically and psychologically, in comparison to working while sitting. You have to be sensible and listen to your body, but as long as you follow your own pace, the increased time standing and more natural lifestyle change will pay off a lot.
Feel free to reply if you have any questions.