The Truth About Standing Desks

Standing Desk Feature Image - Relief

Standing desks have become a popular item in the office world. Whether working from home during the lockdown, or in an office, these vogue desk aids have a wide range of supposed benefits.

But what is fact and what is fiction? We’re going to take a look at some of the claims surrounding standing desks to discover how helpful they can be to posture and health.

Weight Loss

First and foremost, many standing desk proponents claim that standing helps with weight loss. The thinking behind it is that standing burns more calories than sitting. This has led to people assuming that standing desks can help with weight loss. It’s easy to see this line of thinking and think it makes sense, and to a degree it does. However, just standing may not have as great an effect as people assume.

Research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health has shown that the difference between sitting and standing is only 8 calories/hour. This study fitted 74 healthy subjects with masks to measure oxygen used while sitting, standing, and walking. This figure was then used to work out how many calories are burned on average.

Standing desk with Apple PC

Subjects who sat while working burned 80 calories/hour, people who stood for an extended period burnt around 88 calories/hour, and walking (as a benchmark) burns 210 calories/hour. 

So with these figures in mind, standing for 4 hours a day would only burn an additional 32 calories (compared to sitting) while walking for just 30 minutes at lunchtime can burn over 100 calories. 

This proves that standing desks by themselves can’t be used for weight loss but used in conjunction with walking and other forms of exercise can be an effective way to monitor your weight and keep more active.

Heart Health

Sitting for extended periods has long been known to harm heart health. Various studies corroborate this; a study in Australia of 63,000 men found that people who spent four or more hours sitting per day were more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. 

A Canadian study of men and women even found that too much sitting can negatively affect the health of people who exercise regularly and claimed that people who sit for most of the day were 54% more likely to die sooner than those who didn’t.

These studies are shocking and just goes to show how important managing your time, even at work, is key to your health. Keep your heart health, posture, and mental wellness in mind every day and plan accordingly. You can use posture or ergonomic desk aids, plan regular screen breaks, and ensure you break up the day by sitting, standing, and walking.

Woman working at standing desk

At Relief Chiropractic Health Clinic, we specialise in treating patients with gentle and effective techniques to restore normal function, reduce back pain and improve everyday life. 

If you need a hand understanding whether a standing desk or other ergonomic aid will help, or want to deal with pains you experience as a result of work then please get in touch with us

We also stock a wide variety of ergonomic aids and can advise you on how to set up your office to work more efficiently and ergonomically.

Concentration

So what about mental health? Does standing help you concentrate better during working hours? Again, this may be a difference of margins. A study by the Association of Psychological Science reported in Forbes, used a test called the Stroop test to measure the speed of comprehension in sitting and standing groups. The Stroop effect (initially named in the 1930s) describes; ‘the lag our brains experience when making sense of contradictory stimuli.’ To test this lag, this study showed participants the names of colours with varying colour fonts and told them to state the name of the colour as quickly as possible. 

This quickfire comprehension test measured the difference in decision making in minute detail. The results of this study found that:

  • Standing participants made decisions within 100 milliseconds.
  • Sitting participants made decisions within 120 milliseconds. 

20 milliseconds is not a huge difference but it does show how standing can make you sharper, especially for short 30-40 minute bursts. Consider how many decisions your brain makes in a 30-minute window and those 20 milliseconds start to add up.

Close up of man working with standing desk

This benefit along with the importance of posture and heart health means that while standing desks are not the be-all-and-end-all, they are certainly a useful tool to develop healthier habits while working.

Focus on Staying Active

This all brings us to a common conclusion. Standing desks are not a silver bullet but as part of a structured work/life balance with a focus on ergonomics, heart health, and mental wellness can be a useful tool. At Relief Chiropractic, this approach of getting to the root of our patients’ concerns and developing treatments and plans to improve overall health is central to our ideals.

If you are interested in finding out more about treating back pain or want to know more about how we can help you then please book an appointment or contact us today.