These days people are increasingly spending more than seven hours a day sitting down, and this tends to increase to more than ten as people get older. It's not surprising when you consider our everyday habits, such as sitting at our desks and driving or sitting in the car. The biggest problem with these habits is that our bodies are not designed to be in a fixed position all day long. Long periods of sitting in one position has a significant impact on our health and well-being. It can cause pressure on our necks, herniated discs, muscle degeneration, and weakening bones. Sitting in one position for too long is the number one cause of back problems. The good news is a sit stand desk at your workstation can help you to overcome some of these problems.

What are sit stand desks, and who uses them?

A sit-stand desk enables the user to switch between sitting and standing by being able to lower or lift the work (desk) platform, usually at the flick of a switch or a lever. This type of desk has been identified as a simple way to reduce the risks associated with sitting for long periods of time.

While sit stand desks have suddenly increased in popularity in recent years, they are not a new concept. In fact, their history goes back many, many years - as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries. They were often found in the offices and homes of the wealthy, and the words of a minister in 1797 may have made them more popular!

“A sedentary life may be injurious. It must, therefore, be your resolute care to keep your body as upright as possible when you read and write; never stoop your head nor bend your breast. To prevent this, you should get a standing desk.”

-Job Orton

Other early adopters of standing up to work include novelist Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, and Ernest Hemingway.

The Sitting Disease

Stand up to the ‘sitting disease’! Sitting disease refers to a sedentary lifestyle, one which is associated with a whole range of health risks. While sitting down seems relatively harmless, it is linked to an increase risk of type two diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer.

Studies [1] have shown that adults of working age in England spends 9.5 hours on average per day sitting down which increases to more than 10 hours with an increase in age, whether that is at a desk in work, in the car or on the sofa. According to NHS UK [2], prolonged sitting may be killing 70,000 people a year in UK.

“Sitting may be the new smoking”

However - standing up too long can be just as bad for you. It can cause chronic back pain and musculoskeletal disorders in the lower limbs. Not only that, but prolonged standing has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to blood pooling in the legs, increased pressure in the veins, and increased oxidative stress, all of which heighten your risk of these health issues.

The best way to reduce these health risks is to look at a sit-stand desk, where you can alternate between the two throughout your working day.

Why are sit stand desks becoming more popular?

Sales of sit-stand desks have increased since wellbeing has become a priority for many employers. Bosses are beginning to realize that if they take steps to look after the physical and mental health of their staff, productivity will increase, and less time will be lost to sick days. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Not only that, but more people than ever are interested in health and fitness, and a standing desk can enable them to meet their fitness targets.

There has been a surge of sales in recent months as well, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. People are working from home for the foreseeable future, if not permanently, and so are investing in their home office furniture. They have read and seen the benefits that a sit-stand desk can bring, and so are embracing it in their home offices.

The 9 top benefits of standing desks may surprise you!

Reduction in back pain

Around 80% of adults will experience back pain at one point or another, and most of the complaints come from office workers who are seated at a desk all day long with minimal movement.

The Take A Stand Project of 2011 [3] found that participants who increased non-sitting time by as little as one hour a day reported a 50% reduction in neck and back pain.

Standing - as long as you are practicing correct posture - puts the spine in a much more naturally aligned position. Sitting down puts additional pressure on your spine and compresses the discs.

Reduction in neck pain

Neck and back pain often go hand in hand - when one hurts, the other usually does as well. Craning your neck forward can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to damage that is difficult to repair [4].

It is, however, essential to maintain good posture when standing up as not standing correctly can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Picture an imaginary line from your ear to your shoulder to your hip to your ankle. With perfect posture, this imaginary line would align perfectly with these joints. Proper standing posture also includes holding your head up, looking forward with your shoulders held back and your chest out.

Lower risk of heart disease

The more often that you stand up, the less likely you are to be overweight, have high cholesterol levels, and have high blood sugar levels. A study of Australian adults, published in the European Heart Journal in 2015 [5], found that for every two hours of sitting down each day all of these risks increased. Simply swapping the sitting down for standing was shown to reduce those risks quite significantly.

It is not the only study that finds this. In fact, way back in 1953, a study found that bus conductors who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths as their colleagues in the driver’s seats.

Sitting down for long periods of time is thought to be so detrimental to your health that even an hour of intensive exercise may not counteract the adverse effects of sitting down all day.

Lower risk of weight gain

Weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than are burned. Obviously then, if you burn off more calories than you consume, you are going to lose weight, or at the very least maintain weight.

Of course, the best way to burn off calories to lose weight is through plenty of exercise, as well as a healthy, balanced diet. However, simply choosing to stand up instead of remaining sitting down can have a significant effect. A study carried out in 2013 found that an afternoon of standing up to carry out tasks, as opposed to doing precisely the same tasks sitting down, in a typical office environment showed that over 170 extra calories were burned - that is almost 1000 calories a week burned simply by standing up [6].

The reason for this is that sitting slows down the enzyme in our bodies called lipoprotein lipase, which is a fat-burning agent [7].

Lower blood sugar levels

The higher your blood sugar levels after a meal, the worse it is for your health, especially if you have type two diabetes or insulin resistance.

High blood sugar levels are linked to significant health issues. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

However, a study was carried out into how sitting and standing can affect blood sugar levels. It was found that standing for 180 minutes after eating lunch reduced the inevitable blood sugar level spike by as much as 43% when compared to sitting for the same length of time [8].

Lower risk of pancreatic problems

It is not just the heart that can be damaged by prolonged sitting down. The pancreas can be affected as well. The role of the pancreas is to produce insulin, which carries glucose to the various cells around the body. This gives our body energy. However, when the muscles are not being used, they do not respond too well to insulin. This then fools the pancreas into producing excessive insulin, which can then cause conditions such as diabetes.

An increase in productivity

Skeptics hold a misconception that working at a standing desk can hinder productivity. After all, how can you type as effectively to send emails or fill out that important spreadsheet?

Theirs fears have proven unfounded. In a study, it was found that standing up had very minimal, if any, effect on typing and accuracy in data input.

On the contrary, some sedentary behaviors have been linked to adverse mental health and lower cognitive ability. [9]

Of course, it does take some getting used to - we are conditioned to sit down to carry out particular tasks, but as standing up is thought to bolster mood and energy levels, as we discuss further down, it is likely to have only positive effects on productivity [10].

Better engagement with coworkers

Above, we talked about how standing up to work can increase productivity and a better sense of wellbeing. A Harvard Business School research study showed that the denser an area is with people that are more productive, the better it was for those who worked nearby (within a radius of two feet), and vice versa. Sit-stand desks may not just benefit one person but everyone around them.

Better sense of wellbeing and psychological health that work

The Take A Stand Project found that over a period of seven weeks, those participants that stood up to work reported less fatigue and stress at work than those who remained seated all day. As soon as they returned to their old desks, their moods reverted back to their original levels, showing that sit-stand desks can have a positive effect on mood and well-being.

The SMArt Work trial or in other words Stand more at work intervention study conducted in National Health Services trust, England suggested that 'SMArt Work' successfully reduced sitting time of the subjects. Additionally, positive changes were observed in work related and psychological health of the subjects.

Official source: BMJ publishing group limited

How do sit-stand desks work?

There are two main types of sit-stand desks, depending on what you are looking for. Of course, whichever type you opt for should allow you to alternate between sitting and standing fluidly and quickly.

A sit stand desk converter is designed to go on top of your existing work desk to provide an adjustable surface that can be used in both a sitting or a standing position. It is a cost-effective alternative to buying a whole new desk. These are particularly popular in-home offices, where price and space are often at a premium.

The other option is the full sit-stand desk. Within this range, you can purchase either manual or electric models, according to personal preference. Manual ones feature hand cranks, which allow you to move the surface up and down to your desired height. If you want to take the hassle out of it, you can buy a smart desk model that allows you to adjust it at the touch of a button. Interestingly, the smart desks come at almost the same price as manual desks.

O.plan offers the best collection of smart sit stand desks in UK at attractive prices, browse our collection today!

Are there any disadvantages to the traditional standing desk?

A traditional standing desk is not the perfect option. As with almost everything, there can be some disadvantages to using one.

While sitting down in one position all day can be bad for your back, so can standing up for prolonged periods. It can also make your feet ache and feel numb and can result in blood pooling in the legs, varicose veins, and swelling.

This is why sit-stand desks are your best option. They allow you to alternate between the two, meaning you get all the benefits of both sitting and standing, and none of the disadvantages.

Are sit-stand desks good for you?

All of the evidence across the industry and feedback from customers suggests that sit-stand desks certainly do have some great benefits. Using additional accessories such as anti-fatigue mats add to their effectiveness, as do ergonomic chairs when using the seated position.

In conclusion, alternating between sitting and standing up to work has been shown to have significant benefits. Why not switch today and feel the improvement in your health?

References:

[1] Bhf.org.uk. 2021. Are you sitting too much?. [online] Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk .

[2] [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/does-prolonged-sitting-really-kill-70000-people-year-uk/.

[3] Pronk, N., Katz, A., Lowry, M. and Payfer, J., 2012. Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9.

[4] Cross, J., 2006. MEDLINE, PubMed, PubMed Central, and the NLM. Editors' Bulletin, 2(1), pp.1-5.

[5] Healy, G., Winkler, E., Owen, N., Anuradha, S. and Dunstan, D., 2015. Replacing sitting time with standing or stepping: associations with cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers. European Heart Journal, 36(39), pp.2643-2649.

[6] BBC News. 2021. Calorie burner: How much better is standing up than sitting?. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24532996 [Accessed 16 March 2021].

[7] Thorp, A., Kingwell, B., Owen, N. and Dunstan, D., 2021. Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers.

[8] Buckley, J., Mellor, D., Morris, M. and Joseph, F., 2021. Standing-based office work shows encouraging signs of attenuating post-prandial glycaemic excursion.

[9] Hamer, M. and Stamatakis, E., 2021. Prospective Study of Sedentary Behavior, Risk of Depression, and Cognitive Impairment.

[10] MacEwen, B., MacDonald, D. and Burr, J., 2021. A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace.