Benefits of standing desks: What the research shows us
June 1, 2020
What are the benefits of a standing desk?
Building a feel-good home office? Learn more
Every month, new data confirms it: Sitting still at your desk all day is bad for you. We can trace several mental and physical illnesses to our sedentary lifestyles, including diabetes and heart disease.
That same research has found the greatest benefit of standing desks is the ability to move during the desk-bound work day, when most of the damage is done.
We searched the latest findings to answer your most common questions about standing desk health benefits and found compelling new information:
Q: What does the latest research say about the mental and physical health benefits of standing desks (also known as adjustable-height desks and stand up desks)?
A: Plenty, and it confirms the powerful health benefits of moving at work:
Breaking up a day of sitting with any kind of physical activity reduces the risk of an early death, according to a study of 8,000 adults done by Keith Diaz PhD, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University.
Adjustable standing desks improve job performance and psychological health, according to a study of workers at the University of Leicester NHS Trust in the U.K.
Too much time sitting still is linked to increased risk of depressive symptoms in adolescents, according to researchers at University College London.
Q: What about standing vs. sitting? How much should I do each one?
A: Standing is important, but you don’t want to stand all day, either. You want to move. That’s why most of our adjustable standing desks go to any height you like. You can sit, kneel, stand, lean, stretch, or run in place. It’s up to you!
Standing is important, but you don’t want to stand all day, either. You want to move.
Q: How long should I stand at my desk? Is it good to stand all day?
A: It’s not so much how long you stand, but how much time you aren’t sitting. In a previous research paper, Keith Diaz, the Columbia professor cited above, discovered that adults who sat for more than an hour at a time were at greater risk of early death than those who moved around. So, according to his work, you should get up every hour, perhaps by raising your stand up desk to a standing position, or by holding a walking meeting with your team. You can also check out our guide on how to get started with your standing desk for tips on posture, positioning, and more.
Q: I sometimes get back pain at the office. What are the benefits of a standing desk for people who have back or neck issues?
Q: So, I’m in charge of human resources at my company. Should I offer adjustable standing desks to all my employees, or at least the ones who ask for them?
A: This study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that the benefits of a standing desks for employers are obvious: 65 percent of subjects who got standing desks reported an increase in productivity, and 47 percent said pain in their upper back, neck, and shoulders had improved.
Apple, a company with groundbreaking HR policies, provided adjustable standing desks for all the employees in its Cupertino headquarters in 2018 after CEO Tim Cook learned about the benefits.
Q: What if we aren’t as big and profitable, but we want to join the stand-up desk revolution before we crush it and become the next Apple?
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A 2015 study at the University of Iowa found that employees with adjustable standing desks stood 60 minutes more a day and walked an additional six minutes a day at work.
Q: Why am I hearing so much about the benefits of standing desks now?
A: Because sitting still at work has become a health emergency. Sedentary jobs have risen 83 percent since 1960, according to researchers at the University of Iowa, and “office workers sit more than 80 percent of the workday, placing them at increased risk for many sedentary-related pathologies."
Q: What are these pathologies people are suffering from?
A: Heart disease, diabetes, and, according to researchers at the University of Chester in the U.K., “cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.” All-cause means that sitting all the time makes it more likely that you’ll die from several things.
Q: Will I lose weight with a stand up desk?
A: Working from a standing desk is a great way to get more movement in your day, and can contribute to your efforts to lose weight when combined with consistent exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.
There is ample evidence that standing for at least part of the day burns calories. A 2015 study at the University of Iowa found that employees with adjustable standing desks stood 60 minutes more a day and walked an additional six minutes a day at work. That meant they burned 87 more calories a day than their sitting co-workers. That’s almost two Oreos worth of calories a day, or 10 during every work week!
Another study found that the benefits of a standing desk are enhanced after lunch, when being more active helps dampen spikes in blood sugar.
Q: What about my kids? Can they experience the benefits of standing desks too?
A: As described above, researchers at University College London say yes. Our bad sitting habits start in school. These days, fortunately, more teachers are getting kids on their feet and into circles to learn. Stand up desks can keep them on their feet in school and while they are doing homework. We have some great options for getting them the benefits of standing. For the youngest kids, check out our Jaswig Nomad stand up desk. It will get your kids the benefit of a standing desk and a beneficial price!
Standing desks: A great start towards an active workspace
By the time most people retire, they’ve spent 90,000 hours — nearly a quarter of their lives — working. A standing desk is one of the key tools we can use to make sure we’re taking good care of our minds and bodies while we do it.
Want to explore which option might be right for your budget, space and style? Check out our guide here.
Our guide to standing desks: Learn more