The jury’s out and it seems standing desks are in. Nowadays it’s widely acknowledged that standing is good, and sitting is bad. But how does the science behind the standing desk, well, stand up? Here’s everything you need to know about the health trend taking office workers by storm.
Standing Desks – A Brief History
Created for writing or reading while standing, the use of standing desks dates back as early as the 15th century, with some of the world’s greatest minds including Leonardo de Vinci, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Virginia Woolf all forgoing the chair in order to let their creative juices flow. Over the past few years, the standing desk has come into favour once again, as we’ve grown more aware of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.
The Pros and Cons of Standing
Increasing your risk of disease, heart attacks and obesity, it’s safe to say that sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t doing your body any favours. While the research is in its early stages, we know that standing more at work can contribute to weight loss and reduce back pain, as well as increase productivity levels and improve moods. However, if used excessively, these new desks can be detrimental to physical health too.
Professor Alan Hedge, who directs the Human Factors and Ergonomics research at Cornell University, shared his concerns with The Times recently…
“Standing to work has long been known to be problematic. It is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy.”
Your posture can also suffer from standing all day. Many women with a full, heavy bust turn to a supportive and expertly crafted bra to elleviate back and posture problems, however these health benefits may be reversed by the extra strain on the spine by standing in the one spot for too long.
So what we can learn from this? Everything in moderation.
Yes, standing desks encourage us to move more throughout the day, which decreases the likeliness of obesity and cancer, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Beyond the exhaustion that comes with constantly standing, it can also pose health problems down the line.
For workers, Hedge suggests a sitting ergonomic desk where sitters stand and move around briefly every twenty minutes. Nothing too vigorous – grabbing another drink of water from the kitchen should do it.
Melbourne-based exercise physiologist, Jennifer Smallridge, agrees..
“For the general population, spending more than 30 minutes in the same posture is not healthy, therefore a postural break by either stretching or walking is recommended.”
So instead of following the fad, invest in a good ergonomic sitting desk and commit to moving more day to day. Your body will thank you for it.