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A standing workstation for your home or office

Posted on 22 Mar 2013 at 12:34

Can standing desks improve health, or are they just a fad? Joe Martin explains the pros and cons of using a standing desk

Most of us don’t sit in quite the way we should. We slouch or slump in our chairs and may not even have the chair itself configured correctly. We know we’re supposed to keep our backs straight and our knees bent at 90 degrees, but few of us actually bother to do this.

Now, a growing number of people are discarding their chairs entirely and switching to taller desks designed for use while standing – or desks that can be easily switched to suit either position. Users of standing desks claim to have more energy in the office and improved overall health.

It’s a tempting idea – but if you’re thinking of using a standing desk, there are some things you need to know first.

Are you sitting comfortably?

The idea of using a desk while standing up may seem unnatural, but a sedentary lifestyle has been shown by several studies to have long-term health ramifications. A peer-reviewed study by Dr Emma Wilmot of the Diabetes Group at the University of Leicester has found that sitting at a desk all day damages your long-term health regardless of overall fitness. In other words, even if you exercise, eat your five a day and have a balanced lifestyle, sitting for prolonged periods raises the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

Where to buy an upright desk

Major distributors of upright and height-adjustable desks in the UK include HeightAdjustableDesks.com, Back2, Conset and Posturite.

There are postural concerns, too. Sitting down isn’t inherently bad for your back, but you should take regular breaks from your chair. Ensure both your chair and desk are configured for good posture – most people don’t do this, and the result is an increased occurrence of all manner of medical conditions, from RSI to back and neck problems.

Obesity is a problem, too, when you spend all day sitting. Standing desks can help here in a number of ways. Most obviously, standing requires more energy than sitting. On a minute-to-minute basis the difference is small, but multiplied over a full working day the calories you burn off will add up. Simply standing up more can prevent you from gaining weight, if not help you lose it.

The secondary benefits are psychological. Individuals who have switched to standing desks have found themselves approaching their work in a new way.

Using an upright desk can revolutionise the way you work

“It’s definitely changed the way I work,” says Dean Gifford, a software developer who has been using a standing desk for the past year. “When you don’t have to sit down, it feels like less of a heavy decision to walk up to your desk and start on something.”

Staying on your feet also makes it much easier to walk away from the desk, encouraging a more active routine. Those breaks and stretches you never do when you’re sitting down? At a standing desk they become part of the natural rhythm.

Using a standing desk isn’t a magic bullet for workplace health problems, however. “There’s a lot more to computer-related injuries,” warns Dr John Outhwaite, a consultant at the London Orthopaedic Clinic who specialises in workplace injuries. “Things such as the ambient temperature and the way the light falls on the screen can be important,” he claims, as well as the design of hardware and software. If you want to improve your working environment and practices, switching to a standing desk is a start, not an end.

Standing tall

If you’re willing to invest in a standing workstation, you’ll find a good range of options available. Ergo Desktop’s Kangaroo desk stands, for example, sit on top of a standard-sized office desk and raise your monitor and keyboard to standing height, with prices starting at around £300 excluding VAT. Posturite’s sit-stand desks are height-adjustable, letting you move between positions as you see fit; the simplest option costs around £500, while a corner desk will set you back over £1,200.

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User comments

"sitting for prolonged periods raises the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and several cancers"

Bang goes my Friday feeling!

Still, interesting concept.

By Alfresco on 22 Mar 2013

At those stupid prices there is no chance of me getting one. £300 just to raise a normal desk to standing hieght who are they trying to kid. Just put them on a card board box for nothing.

By curiousclive on 23 Mar 2013

ummm...what?!!?!?!

Seriously this is nuts.
How to stay healthy with a desk-job.
IF you eat at your desk,
eat every 3 hours small portions of food, mix of fruit nuts and fibre.

By r1sh12 on 23 Mar 2013

forgot to add

Then go to the gym at least 3 times a week.
Work out
day 1: arms, chest, lower back
day 2: Legs, upper back, shoulders
day 3: cardio.

That will keep you in good condition.

By r1sh12 on 23 Mar 2013

forgot to add

Then go to the gym at least 3 times a week.
Work out
day 1: arms, chest, lower back
day 2: Legs, upper back, shoulders
day 3: cardio.

That will keep you in good condition.

By r1sh12 on 23 Mar 2013

sorry...i keep hitting enter and it submits comment

Lastly, doing all the gym work keeps muscles supple and leads to better posture.
Its science

By r1sh12 on 23 Mar 2013

Not for everyone...

if you have back problems, it isn't an option.

I have 3 vertebrae fused together and a trapped nerve. The worst thing I can do is stand still. Walking is fine, sitting is fine, standing still and my right thigh starts to "burn" and my back becomes painfully stiff.

I like the idea of an adjustable desk, standing up for short periods would probably do me good, but more than 10 minutes at a time is going to make it worse... I think I'll stick to regularly walking around the office.

By big_D on 25 Mar 2013

I'm going to try this.

I already have all the gubbins. Ergonomic chair, electric height adjustable desk, laptop arm. It cost quite a lot but now I can sit and literally work for 18 hours a day (did this for 2 days in a row chasing a deadline) without any discomfort or symptoms.

Its really amazing how much difference 1cm in desk height can make,, and how on different days, different monitor and desk heights feel comfortable.

I'm going to add some standing time too, now I've seen this article.

By wyson on 25 Mar 2013

I'm going to try this.

I already have all the gubbins. Ergonomic chair, electric height adjustable desk, laptop arm. It cost quite a lot but now I can sit and literally work for 18 hours a day (did this for 2 days in a row chasing a deadline) without any discomfort or symptoms.

Its really amazing how much difference 1cm in desk height can make,, and how on different days, different monitor and desk heights feel comfortable.

I'm going to add some standing time too, now I've seen this article.

By wyson on 25 Mar 2013

Bad for veins

Standing for long periods can damage veins,that can lead to Varicose veins if you lost valves in your veins at an early age.

By filo4590 on 11 Apr 2013

Bamboo Standing Desk

We've been making an affordable line of standing desks here in California for a while. In my experience it good to change it up throughout the day with both standing and sitting.. http://standeeco.com

By Standee on 1 May 2013

Sit-Stand Desk Options

I've been using various sit-stand desks for 10 years now. My summary of the different options is here:-
http://www.simplysitstand.com/?page_id=13
I'd appreciate any comments so I can improve it

By JodyMuelaner on 4 Jun 2013

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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