The Benefits of a Standing Desk

Is sitting and staring at a computer all day killing us? There are many studies that suggest that this is the case. In response, standing desks have become all the rage. I honestly never thought much about the idea. However, after getting a Jawbone Up band and realizing how much I’m sitting still along with off and on back problems, I decided to look into this more. Although the research isn’t perfect, there’s a decent body of evidence on the benefits of a standing desk. In today’s post, I detail the primary benefits of a standing desk. On Thursday, I’ll describe my experience over the past six weeks using a standing desk.

Photo credit: Ash Kyd

Many of us in higher ed sit for long periods of time working at a computer or in meetings. The latest ergonomic chairs only make it easier for us to do this.

I found that after sitting too long my neck and back get sore. I suspect you may have felt the same thing.

Research has found that people who sit longer are at a higher risk of early death than those that stand more.

It sounds slightly hyperbolic, but sitting too much may actually be killing us.

Beyond the benefits of, you know, actually living longer, what are the specific benefits of a standing desk?

1. Burn more calories.

Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories. Overall, the extra effort of standing (although in moderation) leads to improved cardiovascular health.

2. More energy.

The additional cardiovascular activity of standing also gives you more energy. Standing makes you more aware of your body and keeps the blood flowing. The afternoon lull is often mitigated by the extra activity involved with standing.

3. Better posture.

Standing helps develop your core and posture. Rather than hunching over a keyboard and staring awkwardly at a monitor, standing desks help you stand straight. This efforts helps break habits of slouching shoulders and necks replacing them with better form.

4. Better focus.

Many users of standing desks report being able to focus better and for a longer period of time. The act of standing up alone seems to help bring attention to the work at hand.

5. Lower risk of cancer and diabetes.

Although researchers don’t quite understand why yet, people who stand more have lower risks for many diseases including cancer and diabetes. This alone justifies at least trying a standing desk.

I thought of standings desks as a fad. It was simply a case of office counter-culture. Yet, these benefits and the evidence behind them caused me to give the idea a second look.

I was convinced to at least give it a try. So six weeks ago, following an IKEA hack I found online, I build a standing desk.

In Thursday’s post, I’ll detail my own experiences over this time and what benefits I’ve personally experienced.

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