A growing trend in the workplace and at home are desks that allow for both sitting and standing. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your work station, these four reasons may help you make the best decision for your health and productivity.
1. Sitting disease
For the majority of us in the U.S., the opportunities we have to sit in a day can add up quickly. Between commuting in a car or bus, to sitting at a desk, to sitting down for meals and ending the day catching up on tv, movies, or social media, sitting is a necessity for many of us. An average person in America can spend 55% of their day, or 7.7 hours sitting. The coined phrase “sitting disease” was created by the scientific community and is commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle. However, the medical community does not recognize sitting disease as a diagnosable disease at this time. The ill-effects of sitting for 7.7 hours a day equate to some staggering statistics. According to an American Cancer Society study, women who were inactive and sat over 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die during the time period studied than those who were physically active and sat less than 3 hours a day. This study followed 123,216 individuals for 13 years. Men who were inactive and sat over 6 hours daily were 48% more likely to die than their standing counterparts. The health risks from sitting too long in a day are a reality and should be taken seriously. Sitting seems almost unavoidable for many of us who don’t have the option of walking or riding our bikes to work and sitting during a Netflix session is generally favorable over standing. Where we do have the choice in our day to go from sitting to standing is while working at our desk. For those working an 8+ hour desk job, the majority of that time is probably spent doing just that; working at a desk. Opting for a standing desk can drastically change the amount of time spent sitting at a desk – and your health depends on it.
2. Alleviate neck and back pain
A healthy posture plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing neck and back pain. Sitting for long, extended periods of time can pose a challenge to maintaining correct posture, which can lead to greater issues that cause neck pain, upper back pain, and lower back pain. Switching up your daily routine and going from sitting to standing multiple times can awaken your body and bring a mindfulness to your posture. A standing desk can add this variety to your day. Many sit-stand desks are functional in the way they allow you to go from sitting to standing easily. A standing desk does not mean you are tied to standing for the entirety of your day. Rather, it gives you the option to sit when your body needs it and allows you the seamless flexibility to stand when your body needs to be woken up.
3. Improved engagement
Standing can be good for your mind and productivity. Over half (60%) of employees surveyed were convinced they would be more productive if they had the option to work on their feet. A stand-up desk adds more variety throughout your day, improves engagement, and increases a person’s attention span. However, studies have shown that certain fine motor skill tasks are more difficult to perform when not seated. If you don’t want to commit your entire day to standing, or if your feet and legs begin to tire, a desk that easily goes from sitting to standing may be a great option. By placing a cushioned floor mat beneath your feet, you will reduce the amount of stress placed on your feet and legs which can sometimes cause discomfort.
4. Employers may cover it!
One of the fastest growing HR benefits in the U.S. is to provide a standing desk to employees. Some European and Scandinavian countries are light years ahead of the rest of the world and have started requiring employers to provide employees with standing desks. These same countries are also home to some of the well-known sit-stand desk manufacturers. Many employers in the U.S. are jumping onboard with this trend and are finding that the health benefits, increased productivity, and overall employee happiness far outweigh the upfront cost of investing in standing desks. In cities where retention and recruiting is difficult and expensive, providing these extra accommodations can make all the difference. As more and more employers begin to understand the importance and value in a sit-stand desk, it’s likely that there will be an opportunity to request this type of working station. Since there are no laws that require sit-stand desks, employers get to decide how to make these workstations available to their staff. Some require a note from a doctor, others will provide them with no questions asked, and some employers are now making it a staple of their office space floor plan when remodeling or building new office spaces.