Guide to finding the best home & office standing desk

Updated 10th June 2019

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Introduction

A standing desk is a type of furniture that enables you to comfortably stand up when working. Many modern arrangements are adjustable so that you can change the desk's height for both sitting and standing. 

The popularity of standing desks was fuelled by their ability to reduce sitting time and subsequently improve health and wellness. Standing desks are also associated with increased productivity. 

This article explores the benefits of standing desks and provides a guide on how to buying one. 

What is a standing desk?

Standing desks come in a variety of variations. Some models are only designed for standing while others can be adjusted to let the user sit or stand via a counterbalance system, hand crank, or an electric motor. Other desks, commonly known as ‘standing desk converters’ can be placed on top of a normal home or office desk for standing when required and easily removed for sitting. 

The average height of a standing desk ranges between 28 to 50 inches. The height of the desk should ideally correlate to that of the user and is easily customizable via adjustable components or fitted at the time of purchase.

The slant of the desk's surface can also be adjusted for drawing or writing. The legs will be adjustable if the desk if fashioned for computer use.  

As mentioned another variation is to have a platform built to be placed on top of a standard seated desk which raises the surface of the desk to an appropriate height for standing. Sit-stand desks are adjustable to accommodate both seating and standing positions.

Ergonomic benefits of standing desks

Ergonomic tables have been enjoying rising popularity in the workplace. Traditionally, the majority of people worked in fields or factories where they got a relatively healthy amount of physical movement as they worked. In the modern age, people are more comfortable sitting down in front of screens, and there is hardly any reason for them to get up and move about.  

Standing desks can remedy this inertia with various benefits, including:

Boosting the well-being of workers

Standing desks are a good one way to get workers moving around the office. A normal office desk has a fixed surface area and height, and it is up to the user to adjust their own physical position to be comfortable. This encourages workers to develop an ill-suited posture that limits their movement.  

Standing desks create a much more comfortable workspace as they can be adjusted to any height. Office workers will be more comfortable in their working postures, and they will benefit from overall wellness in the workstation.  

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Work safety

Modern-day workspaces feature computers on every desk. Once you include printers and monitors along with other devices, an array of power cords and cables are bound to accumulate.

It is no surprise, therefore, that tripping and falling are among the most common workspace injuries. Most standing desks come with lines of cable organizers to eliminate these hazards.  

Employee productivity

Employee performance will be naturally boosted once they feel safe and comfortable in the office. The difference in the posture will keep them focused and alert on their tasks. An ergonomic workspace demonstrates to employees that a firm is committed to creating a conducive environment. 

Benefits of a standing desks

Sitting for extended periods of time can be bad for our health. Individuals who spend a lot of hours seated are more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and even early death, if not supported by a healthy lifestyle outside of the office environment.

To combat this, standing desks have emerged as an alternative to the standard sit-down desks, and here are some of the benefits:

Weight management

Weight gain simply occurs where the body is consuming additional calories when compared to the ones it is burning. Over 44% of office workers confirm adding pounds in their present job, while 53% of them attributed the weight gain to sitting down all day. 

Exercise ranks as the most effective way of burning those sneaky calories, but standing up can be helpful as well.

A comparison between an afternoon spent sitting down and standing up, shows that more than 170 additional calories are burned when standing up.  

Reducing blood sugar levels

Blood sugar levels typically increase after eating food, but it is risky in the case of large spikes in the sugar level as it makes people more vulnerable to acquiring diabetes. Blood sugar spikes are also linked to poor health. 

A small study in 2013 was carried out that involved monitoring and evaluating the blood sugar levels of ten office employees whilst they stood and sat at their desks. It revealed that standing for 3 hours and 5 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar levels of the employees by 43% in comparison to sitting for the same time.  

The participants were required to wear pedometers, which, after an analysis, showed that there were no substantial changes in physical movements in the two groups.  

Another study involved 23 overweight workers, and the results revealed that alternating after 30 minutes between sitting and standing reduced their blood sugar spikes by 11.1% on average.  

Back pain reduction

Office workers continually complain of back pains. A lot of studies have analyzed the effects of standing desks on users suffering from long-term back pain. In 2011, the "Take-a-Stand" project concluded that participants who committed 66 minutes on average to stand up during their workday reported a 54% reduction in both neck and upper-back pain.  

Lower risk of heart disease

The concept of replacing sitting with standing as a better option for heart health was first introduced in 1953. A study revealed that bus conductors who spent the day standing up had half the risk of succumbing to heart diseases in comparison to the bus drivers who sat all day. 

Another study followed six years later, with almost 800,000 participants. Its conclusion was similar to one of the previous study. The second study additionally linked a sedentary lifestyle to a 90% increase in the susceptibility to cardiovascular mortality. 

Boost mood and energy levels

Extended sitting times have been associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. In a study that extended for seven weeks, office workers who have been using standing desks reported less fatigue and stress than the employees who remained seated.

87% of the users on the standing desks confirmed to experiencing increased vigor and energy. 

Boost productivity

People are hesitant to adopt standing desks because of the view that they may limit usual tasks like typing. Working on the desk is certainly something to get used to, and users of the standing desks have reported no limitations when it comes to performing daily activities.  

The reduction in back and neck pain and the overall boost in energy and focus will undoubtedly boost your productivity. 

How long should you stand at a standing desk? 

Most people assume that they should be standing all day once they buy a standing desk. Studies, however, recommend that you start slow and build upon the hours as you adapt to standing when working.  

Experts warn against standing all day. Your workday should ideally be equally divided between standing and sitting. The switch should be made every 15 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of sitting down, a person's metabolism slows down by as much as 90% while the lower body muscles turn off. 

Most individuals will find it hard to go from sitting to immediately standing for five hours. It is good practice to start small. Standing up for four hours a day is a good limit.  

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What should I look for when buying the best one? 

A good standing desk should compliment your lifestyle. Some considerations when buying one include: 

Adjustability

Adjustability accounts for the most critical feature for a standing desk. A desk that is stuck to a specific position can be a bad idea as your standing habits may change.

We have established that standing all day is not recommended, so you will have to adjust the desk back to a sitting position.

Electrical vs. analogue

Adjustable standing desks come in either electrical or analogue models. Analogue adjustments need cranks' to adjust them properly. These cranks can get frustrating, and few users have the patience needed to adjust them properly every time.

If you can pay more for the electrical version, it will serve you better in the long run. They have an LED keypad where you can save various height settings. This technology is ideal where the desk is serving multiple users. The desks additionally sync height accurately from one side to the other to eliminate any crooked surfaces.  

Multi-level surfaces

Most standing desks are entirely flat for functionality. Multi-level surfaces can, however, come in handy when you need to store accessories neatly. Other desks come with cable management to route all the cables that you use.  

Weight capacity

Standing desks come with a weight capacity. Most models support normal surface use, that is an average desktop and its accessories. You may need increased capacity for equipment like printers and keyboards. 

Disadvantages of standing desks

Standing desks are an excellent alternative to sitting down, but they have their cons of use. Form is everything with these desks, and assuming a bad posture might do more harm than good.  

As you get accustomed to the desks, you will experience sore feet as well as aching joints. These symptoms are normal as the desks take a little getting used to. Equip yourself with comfortable shoes to adjust more quickly. 

Conclusion

Standing desks have enough potential to revolutionize the way people work. Sitting down while working has promoted the sedentary lifestyle prevalent in the modern age.

This lifestyle brings with it a hoard of health risks. Standing desks aim to get people on their feet and boost their health, productivity, and focus on the way.