Standing or sitting at work – what’s the best option? (Part 1)

standing at work deskSitting or standing – which do you prefer? When it comes to your office workspace area, the biggest issue used to be which chair was right for you. The ergonomically precise kneeling chair was the latest ‘fad’ item and the merits of using it were touted everywhere, but still, the average office worker tended to sway back towards a bulk standard chair – one that had enough room for your derriere and it at least had a back to lean against, when inspiration and/or coffee were in short supply.

But now the latest hotly contested argument around your office workspace is your desk itself. No longer is it an argument against wood versus metal or glass – it’s now focusing on whether you should be seated at all.

In this 2-part blog, I’ll be looking at the merits of both the standing and the sitting desk, how you can decide which one to opt for – and whether it really is that simple a choice.

The benefits of a standing desk

There’s no shortage of ‘data’ on the internet about the benefits of a standing desk. When it comes to your health, I’ve seen everything mentioned – from increased lifespan to decrease in your waistline – and that’s before we look at the benefits on your wardrobe budget. So let’s summarise these stated benefits:

  • Alleviates back pain
  • Your heart beats 10 times faster when standing – so you burn more calories (20.4 calories per hour)
  • Lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • Helps you gain a better posture
  • Can reduce your risk of cancer
  • Can increase your lifespan by 2 years
  • Standing all day means no heels and can wear short skirts – as no need to worry about flashing your underwear
  • You don’t have to worry about your tight skirts getting creased across your lap and the top of your tights don’t roll down and emphasise any excess fat you may have around your middle
  • You can go barefoot or wear clogs or wedges
  • Saves you money on footwear and office clothes (as you dress more for comfort than appearance)

standing deskAs you can see, some of the benefits are more personal choice and wardrobe-based, as opposed to health-related, however those health benefits are obviously, influential. But what about the downside to having a standing desk?

The downsides of a standing desk

The early adopters of standing desks have tended to fall (not literally) into 2 areas – those who love them and those who don’t. This was always going to be the obvious conclusion, so let’s look at the reasons why someone disliked the standing desk:

  • Hard to focus and concentrate
  • Increase in back pain
  • Higher risk of varicose veins
  • Tired legs and achy muscles – especially if you’re not used to standing for so long – and this led to:
  • Poor posture – especially if you have fallen arches or hip issues, as you have a habit to bend forward more and/or lean more on one leg than the other

As you’ll no doubt note, there are some things (such as back and posture issues) that can both be alleviated and aggravated by the standing desk. This makes the decision to opt for against one, a difficult one to make. But, as with those ergonomically designed kneeling desks, I don’t think standing desks are going to disappear anytime soon – and they have actually been around for a while anyway – with advocates like Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemmingway all favouring them. More modern and ’hip’ companies like Facebook and Google are also adding standing desks as an option for their employees, showing that the trend for standing desks really is still on the rise.

Next week I’ll be taking a look at the benefits and potential downside to advocates of the more traditional seated work desks – along with how to make the most out of whichever option you choose!

What are your thoughts on standing desks? Are you for them or against them? Maybe you’re currently using one – if so, why not share your thoughts on swapping over! As always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments box below.

Images (c) giromin & Picture Factory/Dollar Photo Club

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