03 Jul Standing Desks at workspace: Do the Health, and Fitness Pros Outweigh the Cons?
Standup desks are the desks that enable people to work on them while standing up instead of sitting at them. Due to the adjustability of these desks, they allow individuals a lot of flexibility. People can alternate between sitting and standing and adjust the height of the desks as per their requirement.
The idea of working while standing is not at all new and the concept has been around for more than 100 years. One of the most talented men in the history, an eminent engineer, scientist and painter, Leonardo Da Vinci is known to have been working while standing on his feet. Apart from him, famous personalities like Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway – also have been known to use standing desks for their work.
The need to integrate standup desks into your workspace
There is a popular saying doing rounds nowadays –“Sitting is the new smoking.” The statement effectively conveys the detrimental effects that sitting for longer durations can have on people. The rising awareness about the severe effects of sitting for longer durations has in recent years pushed the usage of standing office desk significantly in workplaces. The employee wellness criteria and the related health and productivity benefits have led the big giants like Google and Microsoft to offer standing desks to its employees, thereby giving the trend a further boost.
Today, employers understand that an employee tends to spend most of his time at his desk and therefore it becomes imperative for them to offer their employees more flexibility in their work environment. Research reflects that employee productivity and creativity is significantly enhanced when they feel cared for.
The design flexibility of a standing office desk offers that workability and ease to employees. To assess the suitability of standup desks at the workplace, below we have compared the pros and cons of using standup desks at the workplace.
The pros of standing desks can be compiled as:
- According to Forbes, as per the results published in the proceedings of National Academy of Sciences “sitting could really be killing us because it distorts the body’s own picture of how much it weighs, screwing with the systems that regulate body fat.”
- Research proves that standing desks helps to shed extra 1000 calories every week. That would mean burning 48000 more calories every year without much effort. Besides, people do not just stand at their desks; they make little movements like shifting weight from one foot to another, moving a little forward and backwards. These small movements throughout the day not only increases the number of calories burned but also helps in dealing with obesity in individuals. This would not only imply weight reduction but the reduction in associated obesity-related diseases too.
- The additional work done by the muscles of legs and back while standing results in lowering the risk of diabetes in individuals. Doctors all over the world agree that standing will bring the blood sugar levels to normal levels much faster compared to sitting in diabetic patients. Higher blood sugar levels after a meal is a major risk specifically for type 2 diabetic patients.
- British researchers conducted a study on bus drivers and conductors in the 1950s and deduced that the bus drivers were more prone to heart and other related ailments as compared to bus conductors who went about their work while standing. The study proved that standing lowers the risk of cardiovascular and related heart diseases in individuals. Standing at the desk causes our heart to beat ten times more every minute. Also, the mood impact of better blood circulation leads to increase in the energy levels and mental alertness in individuals. This improves an employee’s productivity and concentration at work.
- Studies have shown that reduced general physical activity leads to high cases of breast and colon cancers in individuals. Besides, many other types of cancers like prostate, lung and ovarian cancer have been found in people who spend most of their time sitting at their desks. Therefore standing reduces the risk of developing cancer in people.
The standup desk benefits in the workplace go beyond the above-mentioned lifestyle diseases. Keeping these diseases at bay would mean an increased life expectancy and overall better life for people. The idea behind providing these transformative spaces by standing office desks is that individuals can split their time between sitting and standing and reduce the overall sitting time at work.
Cons of standing desks:
- Standing for overly long durations can be discomforting for employees especially the ones who are already dealing with existing back and spinal problems or the ones with weight issues.
- Though sitting for longer durations have a damaging effect on the spinal and abdominal muscles, but prolonged standing can get tiring for an individual. Standing for overly long durations can cause severe lower back problems and increase the risk of varicose veins in individuals over a period.
In light of the above comparison, we can say that the benefits of using stand up desks far outweigh the problems with using them. There is a growing consensus among experts that the best way of working at offices is to use a combination of sitting and standing positions. Not only does it improves the overall work efficiency, but this also offers a way to extract maximum health benefits while working. A healthier employee feels comfortable, more energized, focused, productive, happier and less stressed.
Dr Peter Ottone, DC, a chiropractor from New Jersey puts it well “My feeling is that using a standing desk is a sound philosophy and will be recommended by back specialists much more frequently as more research is available”. He suggests that using a standing desk for even for some time in a day can reduce the imbalance in the spine and abdominal muscles causing various problems in the lower back and therefore spending on standing desk for the workplace is a good investment.