Sitting has developed a bad name. Its negative impact on health has been compared to smoking, and sitting in front of a computer for nine-plus hours a day has led to a whopping 85% of workers reporting discomfort at work. But, there is hope for the modern-day office employee: the sit-stand desk or simply, standing office desk. People are quickly catching on to the benefits of this ergonomically sound tool that goes far beyond a simple piece of office equipment.
Sit-stand desks encourage workers to occasionally get out of the sitting position, which boasts a spectrum of spine-specific health benefits—from reducing pressure on your back to burning a few extra calories. Are you thinking of investing in an adjustable desk that allows you to sit or stand at your desk?
What Is a Standing Desk?
A standing desk is one that elevates your entire workspace to allow you to work comfortably while standing up. These desks can easily hold your computer, monitors, lamps, and other desktop accessories without risk of them tipping over or falling off, and your entire work experience will remain exactly the same, except that you’ll spend more time standing up.
There are a few different types of standing desks out there as well—like height-adjustable sit-stand desks and risers (we’ll get into the differences down below)—so it should be easy for you to find an option that suits your style and needs.
Should I get a new sit-stand desk or a unit that sits on top of the desk I already own?
This largely depends on the amount of space you have available. If you have more space at your disposal—or if you like to spread things out over a larger desk area—it may make more sense to invest in a stand-alone sit-stand desk. If your current desk footprint is perfect for you, then the best affordable standing desk unit placed over your current desk may be the better option.
Who Should Use a Standing Desk?
Of course, anyone who is interested in using a standing desk can (and probably should) buy one. However, standing desks are especially recommended for those who spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk, as well as those who are largely sedentary especially outside of or in addition to Monday-Friday work hours.
Having a standing desk, or even a sit-stand desk, makes it that much easier to pack a little more movement into your day. And of course, if you are going to opt for a hybrid desk that’ll allow you to alternate between sitting and standing, you should help yourself out by also picking up a top-rated office chair to ensure your spine, back, and neck are taken care of when you do sit.
If you’ve paid attention to, well, the world over the past half-decade, you’re probably aware of the latest hype train in workplace technology: standing desks. There’s a good chance that at least one person in your office is a “standing desk” advocate. And now, as we outfit our homes with the latest remote work tools, these contraptions have found their way to our bedrooms, living rooms, and makeshift home offices. Go Here.
The perfect companion to mindfulness and Soylent, standing desks became all the rage as a way to counteract the negative health impacts of sitting in a crouched position all day. While the hype has died down a little bit (in no small part due to a predictable counter-hype training accusing standing desks of causing knee problems), standing desks continue to grow in popularity and millions of people swear by them.
Standing desks are, without a doubt, over-hyped, and most of the supposed benefits simply aren't true. While the science is still catching up, the existing research strongly points in the direction that standing desks simply aren't worth the investment.
Besides less sitting time, standing at work has other benefits: More calories burned: One study showed that standing sheds 88 calories an hour, compared to 80 calories for sitting. Less back pain: Sitting for long periods of time tightens your muscles and can hurt your lower back, especially if you have bad posture.
Research shows the ideal ratio is to spend one hour standing for every one to two hours of sitting. A height adjustable sit stand desk lets you do just that. Most quality sit stand desks have electric controls or gas lifts to make it possible for workers to adjust the height of their desk multiple times each day.
Standing offers proven physical benefits that include reduced back, neck, and shoulder pain, improved blood circulation, increased energy expenditure, and better posture. These should all lead to healthier and happier gamers.
Should you use a standing desk all day? No. Just like sitting all day is not optimal, standing for a whole day isn't either. You should alternate between sitting and standing every so often during the day.
Frequently Asked Questions About Standing Desk
A Simple Way to Work Better and Feel Better
Two of the most common reasons people buy a standing desk solution are health and productivity. By sitting less and moving more you can improve both. For example, by standing and moving more at work, you can reduce back pain, boost your metabolism, and increase the probability of a pain-free workday by 80%.* As you can imagine, a pain-free workday makes for a more productive workday. Basically, a good standing desk solution can help you get more done and feel better. Want proof? Here’s a brief overview of what science has to say on the subject.
Impact On Obesity
The other purported benefit of standing desks is supposed to be for obesity. On that front, there is a scientific consensus. A standing desk setup doesn’t burn significantly more calories than sitting down, and it certainly isn’t anywhere close to the miracle obesity cure it has often been hyped to be. At best you can expect to burn a few pounds a year, but week to week it won’t make much of a difference.
So, if we had to summarize, the actual physiological impacts of standing desks don’t have enough research behind them to say conclusively one way or the other, but the little research that does exist seems to strongly suggest that they aren’t all that helpful an alternative.
Not only can your standing desk help you feel better, it may also help you work better. *
- A recent study by the Texas A&M Health Science Centre found that standing desk users were up to 46% more productive at work. *
- The A&M study participants also reported a 75% reduction in bodily pain. *
- An Australian study found that activity-promoting desks can improve your ability to pay attention, accomplish tasks, and even manage stress. *
- Research shows that non-sedentary work environments enhance employee creativity, productivity and collaboration. *
We weren’t really surprised by these findings because when we survey Vari customers, they consistently report that using their standing desk makes them feel more energized, focused and productive. If you buy a standing desk solution from us, we’d love to hear from you too. Do you feel healthier, happier and more productive? Tell us about it by leaving a review on our site. More Help.
The Pros and Cons of Standing Desks
So now that we know that standing desks are an option, we need to consider their advantages and disadvantages. Of course, while we can discuss these and make a recommendation one way or the other, it’s ultimately up to you (and your needs and budget) to make the final decision either way.
The main benefit of using a standing desk is that it helps reduce the likelihood of you developing serious health issues. Studies have linked sitting for long periods with health issues like obesity, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, shoulder pain, back pain, diabetes, premature death, and so on. Humans are built for being upright and walking, and spending eight or more hours every day sitting down isn’t exactly great for our bodies; working at a standing desk each day will do wonders for decreasing the likelihood of incurring these issues,
But the benefits don’t stop there! Standing desks also do a great job of helping you burn more calories throughout the day. Even small movements like shifting your weight between your feet, fidgeting, and otherwise moving around help you burn more calories than you would if you were just sitting there. You’ll also be strengthening (and possibly even toning) your leg and back muscles, which can also lead to developing better posture.
Standing desks are also linked to higher rates of productivity by as much as 45%. Users may also have better heart rates, improved energy levels, and a better mood overall than those who only sit.
Switching from sitting to standing while working at your desk is an easy change to make. And by making that change, you’ll reap some undeniably remarkable benefits to your mental and physical health and even your overall well-being. Who could say no to that?
Arguably, the biggest downside to standing desks is the cost. Where regular desks only tend to run around $100-$200, standing desks can upwards of twice that. Despite all of the benefits standing desks offer, such steep prices can make them hard to justify if it’s more than your budget can handle.
Because these desks are often full of moving mechanical parts, they’ll always pose the risk of breaking. Even though the best standing desks are backed by a manufacturer warranty, you could still end up not having a desk for a few weeks if yours breaks and needs to be sent in for repairs.
How Much Should You Spend on a Standing Desk?
Standing desks can be an incredibly expensive investment, with some totaling over $5,000. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of high-quality desks at a fraction of the price that are just as good. Prices for manually adjusted desks start around $250, while motorized options start around $500.
If you’re on a tighter budget, you can also opt for a desktop riser. These offer a comparable experience and typically only cost between $50 and $150.
And for what it’s worth, there’s no good reason to spend over $1,000 (or even just $800) on a standing desk. We recommend aiming for about $250-$300 for manual standing desks and about $500-$600 for fully electric standing desks. At these price points, you’ll still get lots of bells and whistles along with a solid warranty, which is all you really need.
Should I keep my desk in the standing position all day?
With all the negative attention sitting has received, your instinct may be to head toward the opposite extreme—standing all day. But, standing for long periods can do as much damage to your back as sitting all day. The best approach is to vary your postures over the course of a workday. If you’ve been sitting for an hour, it’s best to get up and move around. If you’ve stood for a while, take a break and sit down. The beauty of a sit-stand desk is it promotes changing positions throughout the day—and that’s the best thing for your spine
Once you’re ready to take the sit-stand adjustable desk plunge, be prepared for a transition period. It may seem strange, but standing at work can bring some unexpected fatigue if you’ve been accustomed to sitting all day. Slowly building up the amount of time standing, wearing supportive shoes, and using a gel mat will make the transition more comfortable. While there may be a short-term adjustment period, the long-term benefits of a sit-stand desk are well worth it. Your employees—and their spines—will thank you.
Are Standing Desks Worth It?
Short answer: It depends.
Long answer: Research doesn’t seem to suggest that a standing desk is helpful from a physical perspective, but that doesn’t mean it won’t improve your overall work experience. Until there’s more research on the issue, the right answer likely depends on your personal preference and physical responses to standing while you work. And even if standing desks don’t significantly impact your physical health, there’s a good chance they could improve your overall mood or improve your productivity.
The issues with standing desks are independent of those with sitting desks. In other words, standing mitigates a lot of the problems that sitting has while introducing some of it’s own, and vice versa.
Following that train of thought, you could conclude that the best way to maximize the benefits of both while minimizing the risks is a hybrid setup. Sit-stand desks are an increasingly popular alternative to a pure sit or stand desk — desks that can be electronically shifted up or down to switch between sitting or standing.
In theory, this setup should enable the best of both worlds; minimizing the risks of either setup, while still attaining the benefits. Read the full info here.
Sit-stand desks are still relatively new and not very well understood, but there is some research out there that suggests this line of thinking is valid. A study done by a team of researchers in the UK aimed to answer this question, studying the impacts of hundreds of office workers who switched to a sit-stand desk. The results were fairly convincing: participants showed notable improvements in job performance, work engagement, occupational fatigue, daily anxiety and quality of life.
With multiple scientific studies showing the dangers of sitting all day sitting (even if you do have a fancy-schmancy ergonomic chair), standing desks can help mitigate the many potential health threats caused by a sedentary lifestyle. By keeping you on your toes, you can also increase your mood and energy levels.
Of course, these desks are quite pricey, especially for fully electric models. Plus, thanks to all their moving parts, they run a greater risk of breaking down than, say, a good old-fashioned desk does. It can also be just as rough on your body to spend all day on your feet.
That said, the benefits of standing desks far outweigh any disadvantages, especially for folks who struggle to remain up and active throughout the day. As such, we recommend choosing a sit-stand desk, either a manual or automatic model. These will let you alternate between sitting and standing as needed and make it easier to move around and stay healthy while you work.
Feeling ready to buy a standing desk? Check out our favourite affordable standing desks to explore all of your many options, from simple risers to manual crank and adjustable electric standing desks.