If you’ve read the science and you’re worried about the effects that chronic sitting may be having on your health, but you’re not sure what kind of standing desk is best for you; or if you’ve tried out a basic standing desk and you’re ready to upgrade: we’d like the argue the case for the height adjustable desk being, really, the one and only you should consider.
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Research has shown that short bursts of high-intensity exercise don’t ameliorate the negative effects of sitting for six or more hours a day. Especially when it comes to the cumulative effects of a sedentary lifestyle — going to the gym three times a week might give you a nice endorphin rush, but you’re still at a much higher risk of all the health problems caused by chronic sitting.
Moving throughout the workday on a regular basis helps to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, strokes, stress-related mental and physical health problems, and chronic pain caused by poor posture. For many, the option to stand while working can also help you get going in the morning or prevent midday sleepiness. Poor circulation caused by sitting for extended periods of time has also been shown to speed up the aging process. So, while sitting is not really the new smoking, it is truly an endemic health problem today.
As testimonials will show, however, not everyone likes to stand while working. For some, it can feel awkward and be difficult to focus if you’re the only person standing in the office. For others, it’s simply too uncomfortable or physically not possible. And, in fact, if you take it too far, standing in the same position for hours on end can cause varicose veins and other health issues.
Research has definitively shown, however, that even if you sit for most of the day, if you manage to stand up every twenty minutes you keep your metabolism from slowing to the point where it can begin to cause serious health problems. This gets to the first of two universal reasons, no matter how you use your standing desk, that a height-adjustable standing desk is worth it for everyone. Even if you only use your desk to stand for twenty minutes every two hours, you’re making a big difference in your metabolism, circulation, and overall health.
The issue is, though, that if you’re not super committed to standing frequently for long periods of time, using a crank desk or a desktop converter can be clunky and awkward. If you’re only standing occasionally, it takes up quite a bit of your time and breaks your focus to manually switch to standing height. While this may sound like a trivial reason, research has shown that the trick to better habits is setting yourself up for success through convenience. For example, if you chop fresh vegetables while you’re not hungry and put them in the fridge, you make your choice between chips and a healthy snack easy when your blood sugar is low.
Being able to move to standing height at the touch of a button with a height adjustable standing desk is all but guaranteed to make it easier for you to decide to stand, even when you’re a bit tired or on a roll with your work. Standing two or three more times a day than you would with a more inconvenient option is the kind of thing that turns into a real, healthy habit. This is called choice architecture, i.e. engineering an environment so that the best choices are the easiest. We have a tendency to think that if we know the negative effects of something, we’ll avoid it. But science shows that in general, especially today where most people are time-poor and rushing, the most convenient choice is the most likely one. See more here about choice architecture in the workplace and how to engineer an office that makes healthy choices the easiest for employees in our recent e-book call “Be the place where the best people want to work”.
An equally important reason that a height adjustable standing desk really is the best option for everyone is: ergonomics. Not to make things complicated, but while standing up is essential to battling a sedentary lifestyle, if you are standing at a desk that is not properly adjusted for your height and body size, you are also putting yourself at risk for eye strain, posture problems, headaches and more. Besides convenience, a height adjustable standing desk allows you too ensure that the height of your desk is exactly what it should be for your correct eye-to-screen level and keyboard height. A height adjustable desk with a motor and programmable settings (such as our SmartDesk) also allows multiple people to use the desk at the height that is correct for them, without messing up someone else’s carefully tuned manual height adjustable desk.
The importance of ensuring that your desk is the right height for you cannot be exaggerated. If you’re standing up but your eyes are straining to see the screen, your shoulders are slumped or overly tense because your arms are at the wrong angle, you can cause yourself headaches, compressed discs in the neck and back, and/or generally uncomfortable upper body tension. It’s the same as sitting at the wrong height except you may fool yourself into thinking what you’re doing is better because you’re standing.
The third important reason a height adjustable standing desk is totally worth it is more of a perk than an imperative. An electric height adjustable standing desk can be used at heights beyond just your usual sitting and standing heights. If you ever become interested in kneeling while working, an electric height adjustable desk can be lowered to a height which will allow you to kneel comfortably with an ergonomic computer set-up. Kneeling may sound like an uncomfortable idea at first, but with the right knee support, many people find it to be an easier way to sit with good posture. When kneeling your pelvis naturally tilts forward and arches your back at the correct angle, while an office chair can do the opposite.
You might be surprised by what other kinds of uses you may find for a height adjustable standing desk, as well. Raise and lower your desk to exactly the right height for your monitor in order to be able to watch a movie from the couch across the room, for example. Or use it as a desk for both adults and kids, without purchasing a separate kid-sized desk. The point is that if a height adjustable desk is as affordable as non-adjustable or manually adjustable desks (which it is, here) then there are several important reasons to make a convenient height adjustable desk your priority, instead of just a standing desk.
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