Should I use a sit stand desk: standing desk benefits.
There’s a lot of data and research out there analyzing the benefits of sitting or standing while at work. So we had to determine, what is the best for me and how do I wade through all the technical jargon and scare tactics some may use to encourage you to purchase their products. This article references data from UCLA and Cornell University – two reliable sources of data. But most if it comes down to how you feel, are you productive and adding variety to your posture and position throughout your work day.
Some employers are willing to buy their staff sit-stand desks because they are motivated by the fear of law suits, while others just want their teams to be happy and productive. You should ask your Human Resources staff, but the truth is, sit-stand desks have become very affordable and cost is not really a barrier for companies.
What are the best postures for my desk or workstation?
The best option for workers who face long hours of sedentary work is to use a combination of sitting and standing. The human body responds best to a balance between static and dynamic activity, between activity and recovery, between sitting and standing. You have to move and you need to be supported in safe postures. You have to balance your day – end of story!
Standing desk benefits.
Surely there must be clear cut definitive data showing which one, sitting or standing is best. Here’s the reality; Sitting uses less energy than standing and it helps to stabilize the body, so we sit to perform fine motor tasks like driving or precision work. For many years, ergonomics have recommended that sitting be broken up by periodic standing and moving during the day, preferably one-two minutes every twenty to thirty minutes. Research has shown that frequent mini or micro breaks improves levels of comfort, work performance, and reduces the risks of musculoskeletal injuries.
Standing is a posture often taken by workers when performing their job duties. There are a number of applications where standing is the recommend working posture, as opposed to sitting. Standing work, compared to sitting when working, is recommended when the task cannot be performed with the employees keeping their arms comfortably at their sides. But, standing requires approximately twenty percent more energy than sitting. Many of us are looking to burn more calories at work. Standing can reduce strain on the lower back from prolonged sitting and increases muscle activity compared to sitting. Standing puts strain on the circulatory system and on the legs and feet. Consequently, that is why jobs that require long term standing are provided with ergonomic anti-fatigue mats to stand on, and those employees are advised to wear anti-fatigue footwear, and chairs should be close by for them to use during allowed breaks. But guess what, it is important to note that standing is not a substitute for exercise.
What if you already have a standing station and just want to make sure you’re utilizing it correctly?
- Make sure your standing table height is approximately at your standing elbow height.
- Use a supportive adjustable stool or ergonomic chair and sit periodically or during breaks.
- If you are using a raised stool, make sure to obtain an elevated foot rest as well.
- Make sure the keyboard, mouse and monitor height are all ideal in both sitting and standing postures; have a way to adjust those as needed.
- Stand on an anti-fatigue mat.
- Wear supportive shoes and replace them frequently.
- Remember to alternate postures between sitting and standing. A cheap but good idea is to use a timer if it is hard to remember when to sit or stand. Most cell phones have built-in timers or alarms. A great rule of thumb is to sit for 1 hour then stand for 5 minutes. But always pay attention to how your body is responding and feeling throughout the day.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good floor mat. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for one because the idea behind floor mats is to encourage the body to naturally and imperceptibly sway, encouraging subtle movement of the calves and leg muscles (King, 2002). Research supports that quality floor mats are preferred over concrete floors for standing work. In a research article by, Cham and Redfern (2001) reported that, floor mats characterized by increased elasticity, decreased energy absorption, and increased stiffness resulted in less discomfort and fatigue.
Neither static standing or longer term sitting is recommended. Each position has its advantages and disadvantages. Ideally, employees are provided with a workstation and job tasks that allow them to frequently change their working posture, including sitting, standing, and walking. However, there are a number of workstations and workplace design features that can help minimize the risk factors associated longer term sitting or standing.
So now you want a sit-stand desk for yourself. What kind of sit-standing workstations are available?
- Traditional standing stations have been around for decades. A standing workstation involves a fixed-height desk that is set to the height when the employee is standing. A high stool should be used with this type of workstation so the worker can adjust from standing and sitting. A high foot stool is also recommended.
- Traditional desk/workstation with a standard seated-height desk and standard adjustable chair, but the desk has pins to adjust the desktop or a crank table (which are the easiest to adjust). These types of workstations are relatively old-fashioned and are the most costly of these major solutions.
- There are a few varieties of new style sit stand desks, most involve a workstation that can be adjusted for sitting and moved for standing. These types are akin to drafter’s tables and consist of a frame and desk top that may accommodate one or more people at a time. Some options include electric desks (the easiest to use and are surprisingly affordable), gas lift desks (convenient and inexpensive), manually adjusting stations (which work fine but may fatigue the employee having to exert effort when raising or lowering the desk), and old style hand crank types. Within this class of sit stand desks are the desks now referred to as standing desk converters. A fully contained sit stand desk you simply put on top of your current desk that are about 30-inches and easily fit a monitor and keyboard. These stand sit desk converters also are available in electric, gas and manual. All very competitive and relatively inexpensive. Most employers won’t balk at these prices especially when the health, safety and productivity of their employees are concerned.
So what is the bottom line? Sit to do computer work. If possible, sit using a height-adjustable desk or a sit stand desk so approximately every 20 minutes you can stand for 8 minutes and work, after that move regularly. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and stand and move for a couple of minutes. A frequent change of positions and movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Guess what, movement is free! Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (such as jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace, sit and stand as you work, and add simple activities such as walking to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day. Using your sit-stand desk to add variety of positions is important for your health and productivity.