They’ve soared in popularity in recent years but are standing desks actually good for you?
A standing desk is a height-adjustable desk that gives the user an option to sit or stand throughout the day. The main principle of using a standing desk has evolved from workplaces becoming more sedentary. In an effort to shoe-horn some activity into our still lives, standing desks give the average office worker the opportunity to stand, stretch and even dance around (if you have a brilliant Spotify playlist).
Articles have popped up to tell us that ‘sitting is the new smoking‘ but we’d advise you to sit less, not jump to the other extreme. As with all things, it’s everything in moderation and balancing 20 minutes of sitting with 20 minutes of standing gives you the benefits of both schools of thought.
Now that standing desks have gained a bit of traction in the market, there are a variety of standing desks readily available. These range from desk-top converters, to height-adjustable desks, to fixed-height standing desks. From some extensive testing, we’ve concluded that some standing desks are better for you than others:
Fixed height standing desks
The main point of contention we find is the fixed-height standing desks. These are often built into the initial office design which is where the issue begins. If you have a fixed height standing desk, how can two people of different height and build work at the same standing desk? In building fixed-height standing desks, you might have already made this ‘perk’ unusable for 80% of the staff.
If you are D.I.Y’ing it, relax your arms at a 90° angle (like your holding a tray….or you’re about to break into the robot). your arms should just hover above the height that you need to build the desk.
Be wary; just as we don’t recommend sitting all day, standing all day without breaks can also be detrimental to your musculoskeletal health.
Height adjustable standing desks & converters
The best of both worlds is an electric height-adjustable standing desk. A height-adjustable desk will not only help you to get to your optimal height when standing but also when you are sitting making it suitable for all shapes and sizes of employees. In using these desks as standard, you can happily seat a 6ft3 person who needs the extra legroom to a 5ft person that struggles to keep their feet flat on the floor at a standard height desk. Perfectly demonstrated below by our smallest and tallest resident at Posture People HQ.
What we love about using height-adjustable desks:
- We can adjust the desk to the right height whether we sit or stand
- They offer better accessibility to wheelchair users
- They are conducive to functional hot-desking environments
- We have the flexibility to sit & stand throughout the day
- They help to boost energy levels during the post-lunch slump
- Standing to work burns a few extra calories
- They help you to vary your posture and move more
A desk-top converter is also a good option but they come in at a relatively similar price bracket. If you are retrofitting it onto a bank of fixed height desks, a solid (technical term for wobble-less) desk-top converted is a great option, but for your money, an electric height-adjustable standing desk might give you more space and flexibility.
*It’s also worth mentioning that in your search for the perfect desk, you might come across ‘crank handle’ standing desks. Crank handles are not designed to be used as sit to stand desks but to aid in finding the right height for different users when they are sat down. If you intend to vary between sitting and standing, always look for a model with an electric motor.
In conclusion, standing desks are good for you but make sure that you are using them correctly and balance standing with spells of sitting to give your leg muscles a chance to rest. And remember, whether you are sitting or standing, the key is to set up your workstation correctly to get the full benefit of the desk. Aches, pains and strains aren’t part and parcel of ‘getting used’ to your new desk, it suggests that something need tweaking. Download our free guide on how to stand correctly to help you adjust your standing desk.