Standing desks aren’t anything new. In fact, workspaces designed for you to stand tall at, rather than hunch over from a swivel chair, have been around for nearly a decade. But, now that you spend eight hours a day feeling the strain of hunching over a laptop at your kitchen table, the posture-adjusting properties of these solutions have got you intrigued – right?
If so, I feel you. After my umpteenth moan about my lockdown home working setup, I too too the plunge and ordered a make known as a Varidesk. (Yes, I am aware that being a Women's Health editor with a standing desk is a hideous cliché, much like a love of Lululemon leggings and expensive water bottles. But stick with me, here.)
OK, what actually is a standing desk?
It’s nothing more complicated than its name suggests: a desk that allows you to work while standing up.
They were designed to help with productivity, energy – and possibly even longevity.
Standing up all day sounds tiring?
Not all standing desks require you to spend the full working day on your feet.
Some desks are on hydraulics; you simply press a button and increase the height of the desk to take it from sitting level to standing. Or, you can get standing desk converters. These sit on top of your normal desk to turn it into a sit-stand workstation at less cost than a whole desk replacement.
Right now, I’m using the desk converter to turn my kitchen table or bedroom chest of drawers into a workspace. Needs must.
Sure. But why would you want to stand up all day?
I first jumped on the standing desk bandwagon when I joined the WH squad.
Back then, HR only issued a standing desk if you had a health reason to warrant it. I didn’t. So when my teammates exited the building and curiosity got the better of me, I’d slip into their standing grave. It only took a couple of times of desk hopping for me to understand the hype. Sitting down for most of the day is not a good thing.
What are the benefits of standing desks?
1/ Improved mood
One study found that standing desks can lower feelings of stress and fatigue, while improving mood and energy levels. I agree. It’s hard to feel stressed when standing as it’s impossible to not move your feet to Savage by Megan Thee Stallion. Your workspace becomes your dance floor. Fact.
2/ Reduced back pain
Creaky necks and sore backs are a common office woe. Even among gym tribes with faultless mobility routines. Humans just weren’t designed to sit in front of a computer all day.
For years, I couldn’t shake (or stretch away) my sore right shoulder. Not even a vicious looking foam roller nixed the niggles. But after a stint at the standing desk I noticed my shoulder ached less. I requested a desk setup review and a month later, I was standing around 50% of the day and moaning about my pains 99% less. The solve? Better posture while typing as I was no longer over-reaching for the mouse or slumping in my chair.
I’m not the only one to notice an improvement in long term-pain. This research found that using a standing desk reduced upper back and neck pain in those in the study by 54% after just 4 weeks
3/ Increased wellbeing
Hands up who’s put off getting a drink of water or going to the loo until you’ve replied to one more email? I see you. When sitting, it’s easy not to move for hours. The opposite happens when standing; you’re more likely to hop to the kitchen or pop to the toilet. These small tasks no longer feel like a big deal.
4/ Calorie burn
While a solid workout regimen will always be the best way to torch cals, standing gives you health credit. According to Varidesk, one of leading brands of standing desks, if you use a standing desk for half of your working day, in hourly sit-stand intervals you’ll burn off an additional 50 calories per hour, or 200 per day. Over a week that is 1,000 calories burnt and if you used it all year you’d burn around 52,000 extra calories, that is the equivalent as running over 18 marathons.
I clocked this extra burn on my fitness tracker - not only did my day stats read higher, but I got in extra steps (getting that 10th glass of H2O) without noticing.
5/ Decreased risk of heart disease
Prolonger periods of sitting on your bum is found to increase the risk of heart disease by up to 147% , according to this study.
Interesting. But how does a standing desk work at home?
Like the rest of the country I was forced to find my feet fast with the new WFH life. After three weeks of typing, editing and replying to emails from the kitchen table my makeshift setup took its toll.
My kitchen table is normal height - but not the correct height for a workspace. According to the NHS, your screen should be at eye level and wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. Mine were not. Plus, our kitchen chairs, as lovely as they are, can not be adjusted. More bad news for posture (knees should be slightly lower than your hips).
Adding a sit-stand desk into the household has been a game changer. It transforms where we eat or sleep into a makeshift office and has cut the gripes about sore shoulders.
Plus, as it's not permanent it can be stored under furniture or slipped down the side of a cupboard when not in use.
Standing desks: the verdict?
Right now, I don’t think there is a perfect working setup. That’s unless, you’re one of the lucky few with one of those cabin-like garden offices complete with aircon and a Bose sound bar. Not you? No. It’s all about doing what we can with what we’ve got (or order online) in the pursuit of optimal health.
I say, stand up to WFH life.
The standing desk I use:
And some other buys to try:
The desk-converter standing desk
The budget friendly standing desk
The adjustable standing desk
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