Is Standing the New Sitting? goPhysio Investigate

Sep 19, 2014

Standing desks are very common in the USA, but haven’t really caught on yet over here yet in such a big way. Recent studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is now one of the highest risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. Another study suggested that sitting for prolonged periods is as dangerous as smoking is for your health. So should we be standing more?

What are the benefits of standing?
• Better posture
• Reduced low back pain
• Reduced risk of serious health issues
• Reduced risk of obesity
• Higher productivity levels

Standing desks are exactly what they sound like – a higher level desk that allows you to stand whilst you are working. They come in all shapes and sizes – some are a fixed height, while others use hydraulics to switch between a standing and sitting desk. However, you don’t need to buy an expensive desk – a patient of mine has constructed his own with a section of worktop from Ikea!

There are some great, cost effective DIY standing desk ideas on Lifehacker & Ikea Hackers.

A couple of our patients now use standing desks. They have feedback that:
• More energy
• Increased productivity
• Reduced pain – low back and sciatic nerve irritation
• More active round the office

• Can’t do all tasks standing
• Sore feet (he had to go out & buy new shoes!)
• Achey legs

If standing doesn’t appeal to you, there are still plenty of things that you can do to help improve your posture at work.

  • Research has shown getting up and standing just for 1-2 minutes every 20 minutes is beneficial. It allows the major back and leg muscles to contract, helping with blood flow. It also prompts the body to burn more calories, which is a nice bonus!
  • Using an ‘active’ chair could also be an option – saddle seats and gym balls make excellent chairs and encourage to sit in a much better posture.
  • Rearranging your desk layout can also help – make sure you aren’t over-reaching for your keyboard and mouse, that your screen is at the correct height and if you use a laptop, consider getting a docking station or stand to improve the angle.

Standing desks might not be for everyone, but the benefits of being more active are worth making the effort to spend at least some of your day up and moving!

We’d love to see your standing desks and hear your thoughts if you’re already using one – pop us an email with a photo and let us know how you’re getting on!

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