Do Standing Desks Lower Your Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common medical condition defined as elevated pressure of blood in the arteries. Although it’s normal for blood pressure rates to rise and fall, consistent high blood pressure levels can lead to serious health concerns, such as heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

It is thought that 1 in 4 adults worldwide have high blood pressure, though not all of them will realise. For this reason among others, all adults over 40 years old in the UK are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every 5 years.

There are two main types of hypertension:

  1. Primary Hypertension: Develops gradually over time and has no identifiable cause, but it could be linked to genetics, high body weight, a sedentary lifestyle or stress.
  2. Secondary Hypertension: Appears quickly, and is caused by an identifiable underlying condition. This might include kidney disease, congenital heart defects or thyroid issues.

The key takeaway for this article is that a sedentary lifestyle can cause primary hypertension. A sedentary lifestyle is one in which you are physically inactive and do little or no physical movement and or exercise. In other words, sitting for prolonged periods of time is a risk factor for elevated blood pressure.

While this might not sound like you, most of us spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week, sitting at a desk, which isn’t doing wonders for our health. When we take into consideration our hobbies that involve sitting down, such as gaming or watching television, this number increases. Indeed, a huge 37 percent of Brits spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet, with researchers also finding that 9 to 5 office jobs have detrimental health effects that can be linked to causes of 1 in every 6 deaths. Even if you do get out and about, one study found that prolonged sitting increases risk of serious illness and death regardless of exercise

Image via Yale Medicine, Why Is Sitting Bad For Us?

So, how can we change this? Well, research suggests that, alongside its other health benefits, a standing desk could help to lower your blood pressure by encouraging you to stand up more.

One 2017 trial found that, in overweight/obese adults with pre-to-Stage 1 hypertension, standing up decreased diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and carotid‐femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). Though more research is required to better understand the relationship between the two, the researchers concluded that it may be a practical way to lower blood pressure while performing deskwork.

How Standing Desks Lower Your Blood Pressure

Being active lowers your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good shape, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, it should be safe for you to be more active. However, if your blood pressure is 180/100mmHg or above, speak to your doctor or nurse before starting any new exercise.

Let's take a closer look at what role a standing desk plays in this. 

1. Improves Blood Circulation and Heart Rate

Standing up activates your muscles and promotes good posture which helps to boost blood circulation and increase your heart rate. This encourages better cardiovascular health, which can lower your blood pressure.

Indeed, one study estimated that reducing sitting time to 3 hours per day would raise the average American’s life expectancy by 2 years.

2. Reduces Pain 

One study showed people with persistent low back pain for more than two years had higher resting blood pressure levels than those with no pain. This is because the nervous system is always working to try to fix it and, over time, it will lose its ability to regulate blood pressure. 

Standing up and adopting proper posture when sitting down can help to relieve neck and back pain which, in turn, could lower your blood pressure. 

3. Helps with Weight Loss

Primary hypertension is linked to high body weight. If your weight is causing high blood pressure, then a standing desk could help you to lose weight and, in turn, lower your blood pressure. 

Generally speaking, you can burn between an extra 100 and 200 calories per hour when you adopt a standing position. That said, other research suggests that just standing up won't cut it.

If you can, you should stand and move at your standing desk. Incorporating stretching, walking or squats into your routine will be more effective at helping you burn calories and lose weight at your standing desk than just standing still.

Studies have shown that an under-desk treadmill could help you to increase energy expenditure and metabolic rate and reduce sitting time while performing work-related tasks.

4. Improves Mood

Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to a higher risk of both anxiety and depression, and stress is one of the leading factors for high blood pressure.

A standing desk can help to improve mood and overall wellbeing by keeping you active and engaged, and thus reducing the negative effects of sitting down for prolonged periods of time. 

Indeed, in one 7-week study, participants using standing desks reported less stress and fatigue than those who remained seated the entire work day. In addition to this, 87% of those using standing desks reported increased vigour and energy throughout the day.

Final Considerations

While the evidence regarding the potential benefits of standing desks on blood pressure is promising, it's essential to approach with a degree of caution. Standing for extended periods without proper ergonomics or breaks can lead to its own set of health issues, including musculoskeletal discomfort and fatigue. Therefore, it's crucial to strike a balance between sitting, standing, and movement. Here's some other key things to consider before making the switch:  

  • Introduce Gradually: Suddenly switching from a seated desk to a standing one can be a shock on your joints. Ease into your new lifestyle by switching between sitting and standing on a more regular basis until you adapt. 
  • Avoid Discomfort: Prolonged standing may lead to discomfort and fatigue, which could potentially undermine the positive effects of standing desks. Maintain proper posture, wear correct footwear, and consider using an anti-fatigue mat or footrest to prevent strain.

Looking for a standing desk for your home, office or workspace? Check out our full collection of standing desks, available for next working day delivery if ordered by 3pm. Our desks come with a 7 year warranty, 30 day risk free return, as well as access to a UK-based customer service team to answer any questions that you might have. Otherwise, our blog provides more useful tips on using a standing desk for a more balanced lifestyle. Feel free to contact us with any questions, with the handy live chat feature on our site, or via email at info@ergodesks.co.uk.

Need additional help choosing a desk? Read our full guides on The Different Types of Standing Desk and Choosing the Right Standing Desk for the Ultimate Home Office.