Health Benefits Of Standing Up At Work


Millions of people spend thousands of hours a year sitting at a desk. Many of us are all too familiar with the typical 9 to 5 office setting. The problem is, spending too much time sitting down is seriously bad for your health. Research has shown that those who sit for significant periods of time during the day are at higher risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even at higher risk of early death (source).

Moreover, sitting for great periods of time does little when it comes to burning calories. This can lead to inevitable weight gain and worse, obesity (source).

Thankfully, standing desks are now available which can help alleviate many of the health issues related to sitting at a desk all day long.


What is a Standing Desk?

A standing desk is literally that – a desk which allows you to work while standing yet remain comfortable (source)

What’s even better is an adjustable variety, allowing you to switch comfortably between standing and sitting giving you the best of both worlds.

Research is still ongoing, however, many studies so far have discovered impressive health benefits when it comes to simply switching to a standing position at work.

At the very least, standing desks have been shown to reduce the health risks associated with sitting as well as possibly increasing productivity.

The Health Benefits of Standing up at Work

Standing Desks Improve Mood and Productivity

Standing desks have been found to promote overall well being and energy levels. In one study, people who used a standing desk were less stressed and fatigued at the end of a 7 week period than those who remained seated all day (source).

Moreover, 87% of participants reported that they experienced higher energy levels throughout the work day while using a standing desk.

Interestingly, upon returning to their prior seated position, their energy levels and mood decreased.

This links in with some significant research showing a strong link between sitting and mental health. Research is ongoing, but studies have concluded that a sedentary lifestyle can increase anxiety (source), depression and even impair cognitive ability (source).

Although many employers worry about the use of standing desks and the risk of lowering productivity, one study showed that office workers who used standing desks for 50% of their work day showed no impact on characters typed per minute or typing errors (source).

Therefore, as a standing desk clearly does not impede your ability in anyway while boosting your energy levels, it is safe to say this could result in significant rises in productivity.

Standing For Longer Periods May Reduce Your Risk of Early Death

Although this may sound extreme, science has found significant links between increased sitting time and early death.

In fact, one study showed that people who sit for longer are at 49% higher risk of dying early than those who sit less (source).

To show just how significant this research is, another study concluded that reducing the amount of time sat down by only 3 hours per day would actually increase the average American’s life expectancy by 2 years (source)

Reduces Aches and Pains

For those who work in an office, experiencing back pain is a common complaint.

However, numerous studies have shown that standing desks can reduce lower back pain by up to 35% (source).

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that by using an adjustable desk that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing, upper back and neck pain was reduced by 54% in only 4 weeks (source).

By removing the adjustable desks, some of those improvements were undone within only 2 weeks.

Reduces The Risk of Chronic Diseases.

There are many studies showing the links between standing at work and reduced risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Standing can significantly lower your risk of obesity by increasing the amount of calories burned per day. One study showed that compared to an afternoon of working while sitting down, the same amount of time standing burned an additional 170 calories (source).

Moreover, higher blood sugar levels are linked to type 2 diabetes. One study concluded that by alternating between standing and sitting throughout the work day found over an 11% decrease in blood sugar spikes (source).

Furthermore, a recent study found those who spent their work day standing had half the risk of heart disease related deaths than their colleagues who spent their work day sitting (source).

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

Benefits of a Standing Desk

Sitting too much is really bad for your health.

sitting is hurting your healthPeople who are sedentary for long periods of time have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and potentially risk an early death.

Also, when sitting your body will burn a lot less calories. There are many scientific studies that have linked sitting with gaining weight and obesity.

The people who are most at risk are those who work in offices since they sit in their chairs working on the computer for most all of the day.

Fortunately, an answer to this problem is a standing desk.

What is a Standing Desk?

standing desk height adjustmentIt is basically a desk that allows you to stand up or sit down comfortably while you work. They are also called stand-up desks and sit-stand desks. In addition, there are also standing desk converters which are unit that sit on top of your desk and transforms your desk into a standing desk.

Many standing desk versions are adjustable, so that you can adjust the height of the desk and switch between standing and sitting.

These are referred to as sit-stand desks or height-adjustable desks.

Research continues to support that a standing desk can have very good benefits for your health. In addition, it may also increase your productivity.

Worst case scenario is if you use one of these desks you can partially reduce the harmful effects of being sedentary.

The following are 6 benefits of using a standing desk, that are supported by scientific studies:

1. Standing Lowers Your Risk of Obesity and Weight Gain

Weight gain is caused by taking in more calories than you burn. Therefore, burning more calories than you take in will result in weight loss.

Of course, exercise is by far the most effective way to burn calories quickly and lose weight. However, simply choosing to stand instead of sitting can also help to burn more calories.

Compared to working in an office sitting down, an equal amount of time spent standing has shown to burn over 170+ additional calories.

Therefore, if you stand at your desk instead of sitting you will burn an extra 1000 extra calories each week.

This is why sitting for long periods of time is linked to metabolic diseases and obesity.

2. You Can Help to Lower Blood Sugar Levels Using a Standing

In general, the more your blood sugar levels increase after eating, the worse it is for your health.

In a small scientific study of 10 workers in an office that were standing for 180+ minutes after eating lunch reduced their blood sugar spike by 43% compared to if they were sitting for the same amount of time.

In the study, both groups of office workers were instructed to take the same amount of steps. Therefore, this indicated that the smaller spike was due to standing rather than additional physical movement.

The harmful effects of being sedentary after meals may explain why excessive sitting may be linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Standing May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

heart health standing deskIn 1953 it was proposed that standing may be better than sitting for your health.

One study found that bus drivers who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths as their colleagues that were in the bus driver seats all day.

Since then, scientists have gained a much greater understanding of the effects of sitting on heart health, with prolonged sitting time thought to increase the risk of heart disease by up to 147%.

The effects of sitting for long periods of time are so harmful that even adding an hour of intense exercise may not negate the negative effects of being sedentary all day.

The consensus is that spending more time standing is very beneficial for heart health.

4. A Standing Desks May Reduce Back Pain

Back pain
Back pain

Back and neck pain are one of the most common problems of office workers who sit at their desks all day.

Studies have been done on people with long-term back pain and the participants have reported up to a 32% improvement in lower back pain after many weeks of using standing desks.

In addition, the CDC found in another study that using a sit-stand desk reduced neck pain and upper back pain by 54% after just 4 weeks.

An important point to note was the removal of the sit-stand desks actually reversed some of those improvements the participants gained within a 2-week period.

5. Improve Energy Levels and Mood with a Standing Desk

Standing desks have a positive influence on your overall well-being. In a 7-week standing desk study, participants using standing desks had reported a reduction in fatigue and stress than those who were sitting the entire work day. Also, 87% of those using a standing desk reported increased energy and clarity throughout the day.

Again, when the participants returned back to their old desks and began sitting all day, their overall moods reverted to their original stress levels.

Research links sedentary time with an increased risk of both anxiety and depression.

6. Standing Instead of Sitting May Help You Live Longer

Scientific studies have linked prolonged sitting and early death. This comes as no surprise with the strong association between sitting time, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

18 studies found that people who sit the most are at a 49% greater risk of dying and early death than those who are sitting for a significantly less amount of time.

One study estimated that reducing sedentary time to three hours per day would raise the average American life expectancy by up to 2 years.

More studies still need to be done. However, the evidence indicates standing more often could certainly help us live longer.

Reducing the time you are sitting can improve metabolic, physical and even mental health. This is why sitting less and standing more during the day is such an important lifestyle to embrace.

If you plan to start using a standing desk, it’s recommended you split your time 50-50 between standing and sitting.