Business Miscellaneous Technology

The 5 Benefits That Come With Using Standing Desks

You get up. You commute to work. You spend most days at your desk. You get back home from work, sit and watch TV, read a book or play computer games. Like most people, you’ll likely spend more than eight hours of your day sitting.

Many studies have revealed health risks caused by the cumulative impact of sitting all day at your desk and sedentary lifestyle include obesity to heart attack and cancer. 

The solution is not to head to the gym after sitting for 8 hours straight. Instead, it’s about breaking down the prolonged sitting and incorporating more movement throughout the day. 

This is when a standing desk becomes handy as it can easily allow you to switch to standing almost instantly without disrupting your work. This simple addition will immensely affect your wellbeing. Read further to find out how.

Sitting is as dangerous as smoking a cigarette 

In a typical working week, an average person spends an average of 5 hours 41 minutes sitting each day. 

From your desk-bound job to binge-watching your favorite television series, we spend tremendous amounts of time sitting. 

Sitting has almost become the default posture nowadays. For our own wellbeing, we need to incorporate activity back into our lives. And we can start doing this simply by standing more. 

Many people have turned to standing desks since it is an easy addition to their daily routine. It certainly does not have to cause disruption to our work. 

Here are some health benefits of standing desks at your workplace:

1. Standing reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes

Using a standing desk to break up your prolonged sitting can help to lower your blood sugar level and therefore reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

An extra hour of sedentary time can lead up to a 39% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and a 22% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a Diabetologia study.

But just breaking up periods of prolonged sitting with quick standing or walking around can help you significantly lower your risk of developing this lifestyle disease.

And with a standing desk around, you can do that almost instantaneously. 

Therefore, if you are pre-diabetic or have a family history of the disease, being more active at work with the help of a standing desk is something worth considering.

2. A standing desk could reduce your risk of back or neck problems

Back pain is very common among office workers especially those spending long hours at their desk. In Singapore, 80% of Singaporeans experience some form of back or neck pain at some points in their working lives. Poor posture when sitting too long is one of the most common factors causing lower back pain because sitting puts up to 90% more pressure on your back vs when you stand.

Participants with chronic lower back pain have reported 32% improvement after several weeks of using a standing desk. 

This is when an ergonomically designed electric standing desk converter comes in handy.

If you suffer from neck or back pain, consult with your doctor or physiotherapist to see whether a standing desk can help you alleviate your back or neck problems.

3. Standing reduces the risk of heart disease

British researchers found that bus drivers who sat all day had three times more risk of “sudden death” from heart attacks than their conductor colleagues who stood all day. 

The difference in their work? Bus drivers sit the whole day while bus conductors work mostly on their feet. This is the first time a link has been revealed between a sedentary lifestyle and heart disease. 

Other studies conducted to learn the effects of sitting on heart health have shown that extended sedentary time increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 147%.

4. Standing more reduces the risk of weight gain and obesity

Fidgeting, shaking your foot and an inability to sit still could make you leaner and healthier. But how?

Dr. James A. Levine of the Mayo Clinic found that despite engaging in regular exercise and following a specific diet, among those recruited in his studies, some participants gained weight and others did not.

He found that those who gained weight tend to fidget less as compared to their leaner counterparts. In fact, obese people spend at least 2 hours more each day sitting idle.

Multiple studies have shown that fidgeting throughout the day can burn 10 times more calories which is equivalent to 350 extra calories per day than sitting still, enough to lose 4 to 13 kg of weight per year. 

One of the benefits of standing desks is that it is a good way to introduce more movement into your workday.

When you stand, you are naturally more likely to fidget or to move around your office. Try it and you’ll see!

5. Standing may reduce your risk of cancer

Some studies have found inactive people facing a higher risk of certain types of cancer.

A study presented by the American Institute of Cancer Research shows that up to 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in the U.S. every year are linked to a lack of physical activity.

Even though there is no clear explanation for this correlation, the scientists found a higher number of C-reactive proteins (a type of biomarker) in people who sit for a longer period of time. This is a factor in cancer development.

So how could we help those office workers who have to sit as part of their jobs?

One thing is certain – prolonged sitting is detrimental to our health. Most of us should take more regular breaks from our desk.

Step away to speak to your colleagues, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and perhaps try the much-vaunted standing meetings.

However, to make the activity at work a regular habit without much interference to your work, we recommend that you look into using a standing desk or standing desk converter.

They are the easiest way to achieve the health benefits or more activity, without affecting your work.

About the author

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Yuying Deng

Yuying Deng is the CEO and Co-Founder of Altizen, an ergonomics technology company based in Singapore. She and her team designed and built from scratch a smart standing workstation that uses tracking technology to improve health and productivity for office workers. Altizen is now in its second iteration and present in companies, professional services firms and government ministries throughout several Asia Pacific countries.