My office recently redesigned our workspaces to create a more modern, ergonomically-friendly work station for employees.  Many corporations  are rethinking work spaces in an effort to provide a more comfortable work environment.  They are looking to increase creativity, teamwork, and productivity.

One of the changes to the workstations that my company made was the addition of variable height desks.  Employees have the option to sit or stand and change the height of their desk at any time.

And the good news is that employees seem to love the new desks!  Because they are adjustable, each person can raise or lower to the exact height that feels comfortable for them.

If you haven’t seen any of the data yet, sitting too long has been called the new smoking.  Sitting for hours at a time has many negative effects that are difficult to overcome, even with time spent at the gym.

A standing, or variable height desk, can help alleviate many of the health concerns created by too much sitting.

Let’s examine 7 of the top benefits of standing throughout the day:

  •  Lowers the risk of weight gain and obesity.  Standing burns more calories than sitting.  An estimated 170 additional calories is burned by standing for the afternoon versus sitting.  Over a year, that would mean an additional 62,000 calories – or close to 18 pounds.  Wouldn’t it be nice to drop those extra pounds without having to hit the gym?
  • Lowers blood sugar levels following meals.  Studies have shown that standing after lunch reduced blood sugar spikes by a significant amount.  Even alternating standing and sitting following a meal has been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes.  By minimizing blood sugar spikes, the inevitable afternoon crash can also be lessened or eliminated completely.
  • May reduce back pain.  If you’ve ever spent all day sitting at your desk, you may have experienced back pain and poor posture.  Because sitting does not require any focus on body position, it becomes easy to slump.  Once you realize you’re doing it, it’s probably too late.  Standing requires your body to pay more attention to posture and stance.  In a sense, your body will autocorrect itself to the proper position.
  • Helps improve mood and energy.  Studies have linked extensive periods of being sedentary to depression and anxiety.  People that have used standing desks even for part of the day also report increased energy and decreased stress and fatigue.  Couldn’t we all use a little more energy and a little less stress?
  • May lower the risk of heart disease.  Scientists have shown that prolonged sedentary time can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.  Standing during the day is an excellent way to combat being sedentary and cut your risk of heart disease.  The more time you can spend being active, the better it is overall for your heart.
  • Boosts productivity. Because energy is higher while standing, standing can be linked to increased productivity.  Variable height desks can be adjusted to the perfect height for your body and make repetitive tasks such as data entry less taxing on your body.
  • May help you live longer. As mentioned above, prolonged sedentary time has been linked to heart disease and obesity.  Reducing or eliminating the time sitting can reduce the risks associated with these diseases and potentially extend your life expectancy.  Standing can not only help you feel better now, but may even help you live a longer and more active life.

 Standing options

While many companies are recognizing the value in providing standing desks for employees, there are options available for those who don’t yet.  There are many different options available online that can work with your existing desk like this one.  Other options include freestanding workstations like this one.  If you have a medical need such as back problems that are aggravated by sitting all day, there may be insurance coverage available through your insurance or your employer.  Check with your benefits department to see if this would work for you.  If none of these options work for you, try setting a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around.  While this may not give you all of the benefits of standing all day, it is good to keep you from remaining sedentary too long.

Remember that even standing a few additional minutes each day can have a positive effect on your health!

Have you ever used a variable height desk?  What do you think about them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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