Standing desks have become an increasingly visible presence in offices, both at work and at home, in recent years. That’s because more and more people are realizing the health benefits they can bring, especially for laptop dependent freelancers. Nowadays there are a wide variety of styles which can suit different types of office settings and requirements.
Prolonged sitting is a fact of life for office workers, freelancers and solo-entrepreneurs, especially in the modern age of the internet. More and more people are working freelance. We sit staring at our screens all-day working with clients or selling products all over the world. Computers are designed to rest on a desk, or lap.
Unfortunately, long periods of sitting can have negative effects on our long-term health and happiness. From poor posture and back pain to increased rates of heart disease and diabetes, sitting for as long as we often do, is just downright unhealthy.
Health Benefits of Standing at Your Desk
So how can a standing desk help improve your health? Can they increase productivity levels as well? Why is it important to stand more throughout the day?
Here are just four reasons why a standing desk can benefit your body and its health:
Improve Your Energy Levels
When sitting for long periods of time it’s all too easy for the mind and body to feel fatigued. By breaking up your work day with periods of standing, you increase blood flow throughout the body, which makes you feel more awake and alert. This can be especially beneficial during the dreaded afternoon energy slump.
Helps Improve Posture
Many people begin to hunch when they sit for too long at their desk. This can cause pronounced rounded and hunched shoulders which develop over time. Sitting too much can also cause posterior pelvic tilt, where the pelvis is rotated backwards from the ideal position, which causes your bottom to stick out when standing.
Standing more frequently throughout the day helps improve the core muscle strength in your body which leads to better overall posture.
Helps Reduce Back Pain
Several studies (incl. source & source) have shown the benefit of a sit-stand pattern of working during office hours when it comes to reducing back pain. For professionals, including freelancers, who spent many hours a day in front of a computer, back pain can be a serious issue and concern. By incorporating standing into your daily work routine, you can potentially reduce chronic pain caused by prolonged sitting.
Helps You Reduce the Risk of Future Health Issues
Standing and moving around more frequently during the work day can also help reduce your risk of developing health issues in the future. Prolonged sitting has been linked to increased chances of developing diabetes (source), heart disease, and obesity.
By standing and moving around more while still remaining in front of the computer, you can not only reduce the likelihood of future illness but also generally feel physically healthier and stronger.
Types of Standing Desks
So now we know some of the health benefits but what types of standing desk are available?
Free-Standing Desks with Adjustable-Height
This type of desk looks like your standard work desk, except it can be adjusted to any height you want. Every item on the table surface, such as your computer, mouse, and paper documents, remain in place as the work surface is raised or lowered. These are the most functional type of standing desk, and can be used either when seated or standing, and anything in between.
These types of adjustable desk come with a variety of adjusting mechanism options, which include:
- Manual Lifts – Adjusted using knobs and secured with clip or screw clamps
- Gas Lifts – Adjusted using a gas lift mechanism and lever control system
- Electronic Lifts – Adjusted electronically with the simple touch of a button
Adjustable-Height Desktop Add-ons
An adjustable desk riser is placed on an existing standard non-adjustable work desk. It is a work surface in itself and comes with adjustable legs or swing-arm mechanisms, to adjust the height of the work surface. These are a cheaper alternative to buying a free-standing adjustable desk. However, a downside is they can reduce the overall desk working surface area you might have previously enjoyed. There can also be potential problems with monitor and keyboard placement.
Fixed-Height Standing Desks
This type of desk is like a regular non-adjustable desk but is instead built for permanent standing usage. It’s ideal for an office environment where people can gather around a high table to discuss or work on a project. For a work-from-home freelancer, it’s ideally paired with a sit-down desk that can be used as an alternative for when legs get weary. The downside is that plenty of space will be required for both types of desk in one home office.
Fixed-Height Desktop Risers
Think of a dinner tray with legs you might use to eat dinner on while watching TV. Fixed-height desktop risers are small tables for placement on standard desks, on which laptops or keyboards and monitors can be placed. They are very affordable and easy to use, but you’ll need to carefully take measurements of your ideal working surface height to ensure you get the perfect size for your requirements.
These can all be incorporated into shared offices, co-working hubs, and your home studio space.
Making the Transition from Sitting to Standing
Making the transition easier from sitting all day to more frequent periods of standing requires some gentle and careful adjustments. These include:
Gradually increasing standing time
Transition slowly and carefully from sitting all day to standing more frequently. At first standing for an extended period of time might feel difficult until your body adjusts. Standing for too long, too soon, can put a strain on your muscles and joints, which can cause pain and strains. Aim for an hour a day for a week or two, in 30 minute bursts, and then gradually build up the number of hours.
Ensuring eye-level screen comfort
Make sure your standing desk or add-ons are at a suitable height for good posture and comfort. Your eyes should be level or slightly below your screen, wrists flat, and your elbows at a 90-dregree angle. A comfortable setup will allow you to stand for longer periods of time without causing neck, back or wrist strain.
Adapting to suit your individual work focus
Different people work better in different ways. For some people, sitting can aid concentration while standing is more of a distraction, and vice-versa. Explore how sitting and standing affect your concentration and comfort in relation to different work tasks. Then you can begin to work in different types of tasks for when you’re either standing or sitting, thereby making sure you’re productive whether seated or on your feet.
Moving more while standing and at other times
Standing is beneficial to your posture, health, and energy levels, but it doesn’t necessarily burn calories. Too much standing in one position can also lead to health issues in itself. Make sure you devote time each day to exercise, whether running, cycling, or merely taking a brisk walk before, during and/or after your work day.
Also, when you’re standing at your desk, take a couple minutes here and there to pace around, do some squats, and even some press-ups.
Is a Standing Desk Right for You?
Reducing the amount of time you sit while working, can positively improve your physical health, posture and levels of productivity. Think of incorporating a standing desk, fixed or adjustable, to your office if you’re feeling the physical strain of prolonged sitting. Your body will thank you for it.