Standing desks refers to the work desks that allow you to work while standing at your ‘desk job’ rather than sitting at it.
Last few years have seen multiple debates on whether standing is a better option when it comes to working in an office or is it sitting that produces better results for an individual in the long run.
It has become a hot-favourite topic among the industry experts and recent years have seen the prices of these desks soaring to the sky.
Modern versions of standing desks are not only adjustable as per the height of the individual, but they also offer an option of alternating your time between sitting and standing.
These kinds of desks are known as ‘height-adjustable desks’ or ‘sit-stand desks’.
A famous personality like Winston Churchill is known to have worked only at ‘standing desks’ during his life. So while the practice of standing while working is not at all new but the trend has certainly gained momentum with companies like Google and Facebook encouraging standing desks for its employees.
Google offers an option of standing desks for its employees as a part of its employee-wellness program. An employee can choose to work at a standing desk. Facebook has also offered standing desks to many of its employees in the face of their health concerns.
According to Facebook, standing desks helps to keep the energy levels high in the office. Many other companies have also chosen to provide these desks, but they do it only if it is medically necessary for the employee due to a specific condition.
So the most important question is that – Is standing desks just the latest industry fad that has created a lot of buzzes or is there any credible evidence to support the benefits associated with standing?
It is a well-known fact that sitting too much is not good for health. But given today’s sedentary lifestyle and work culture, we tend to spend most of our time sitting at our desk. Working out in a gym is an option that many of us cannot choose.
The reason can be attributed to various health, monetary or time issues. Since we spend a more significant part of our day in our offices, isn’t it better to take steps that are healthy in the long run?
Now, we know that every company is keen on the fitness of its employees. A healthier employee can be much more productive for a company than an unhealthier one.
Various studies have been conducted over the years that suggest some impressive health benefits for employees with standing desks.
Given below are few of the standing desk health benefits that are approved by the experts in the field:
1. Lowers Weight Gain and obesity risk
We know that weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than we burn. By that logic, burning more calories would imply a definite weight loss that will be visible over a period.
There was a research conducted by Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN that concluded that 6 hours of standing helps burning an extra 54 calories every day. This figure amounts to the same amount of calories that are burned by 7 minutes of walking.
Though the figure might not look too impressive in itself, but calculate it for 6 hours of standing (can be more) every day for 12 months. That would amount to 2.5 kg every year without any extra work and time. So it won’t be wrong to say that you can lose weight by standing at work.
2. Lowers blood sugar levels
According to Dr Om Ganda, MD, Senior Physician at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Reputed Harvard Medical School, the higher your blood levels reach after the meal, higher is the health risk for you.
And this is specifically true for people who have type 2 diabetes. Therefore sitting after meals can be particularly harmful and increase the risk for type 2 diabetic patients.
Standing helps the blood sugar levels return to normal much faster after eating than sitting. The process ensures keeping up the energy levels, helps to regulate hormones and enhances the excellent metabolism.
3. Lowers the risk of heart disease
A seminal study conducted by Morris et al., on the bus drivers who spend most of their time sitting revealed that compared to the bus conductors who are standing for the most of their work, the bus drivers suffered twice the risk of related heart ailments than the conductors.
4. Reduces back pain
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the critical reasons for increasing problem of back pain amongst today’s generation. Studies conducted by Mayo Clinic in 2013 pointed out that many people who spend 8 or more hours sitting on their desk struggle with the problem of back pain.
The Cornell University Department of Ergonomics says that sitting causes up to 90% more pressure on your back as compared to standing.
Even Harvard medical school says that standing at work reduces the risk of shoulder and back pain among healthy individuals.
5. Enhances energy levels
Our brain has to engage in various activities and decipher loads of things throughout the day. Studies conducted claim that people who spend more time standing at work, experience less stress and fatigue symptoms than their counterparts who generally tend to spend more time sitting at the desk. Standing workstation helps increase HDL cholesterol.
According to them, standing keeps the energy levels high by keeping the brain processing at the edge.
6. Enhances productivity
There is no decline in the productive abilities of an individual regarding their typing speed, reading skills, studying the formulas or understanding concepts while standing.
According to a brand new study by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health – standing at work desks leads to increase in employee productivity significantly.
6. Experience better and longer life
People who spend most of their time sitting due to various reasons have known to attract diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and other lifestyle diseases.
Though medical science has led to an increase in the average lifespan of an individual, but people suffering from different diseases succumb to them much earlier than their healthier counterparts. Less number of diseases is a sure way to a longer life.
So, it is not difficult to conclude that it is not mere physical health, but mental health too that gains from standing at the desk while working.
An individual can start with standing for less time initially and then gradually increase the time.
Though standing desk by itself is not enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it can definitely be a first step in the direction.