For several years, many experts around the world have been warning about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle at work. Sitting behind a desk all day could lead to serious health problems and even drastically reduce life expectancy. One of the solutions to this public health problem is to propose ergonomic alternatives to the traditional desk. And many companies and individuals are starting to adopt adjustable desks, also known as standing desks.
Standing desks are new concepts within workplaces that aim to prevent health problems related to bad posture, especially, setting for a long time. Indeed, according to BJM, sitting too much is linked to around 70,000 deaths every year in the UK. Therefore, the design of workstations is one of the key points to ensure your comfort at the office and avoid many health problems. A standing desk UK allow you to alternate positions (sit or stand) as you wish and thus, limit these sedentary behaviors.
In this article, you will discover all our tips on how to use a standing desk. So, let get started.
Why use a standing desk?
The use of a standing desks really began shortly after the publication of a 2010 study by the American Cancer Society which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. According to this study, a woman who sits for more than 6 hours a day has a 37% higher risk of dying prematurely than a woman who sits for less than 3 hours a day. As for men, the findings of this study are the same since 18% of them have a greater chance of dying if they spend more than six hours standing.
This research by the American Cancer Society is based on data from people who sit at home. However, other studies, conducted by European researchers, have come to the same conclusions. Since then, it is considered that office work can be performed standing if the furniture allows it. This would reduce the risk of premature death due to prolonged sitting.
What are the health benefits of standing desks?
Several studies show that the use of a sit stand desk provides very interesting health benefits. The main benefit of this professional work furniture is ergonomic. Indeed, alternating between sitting and standing on a regular basis reduces the risks associated with prolonged sitting (muscle tension, lower back pain, muscle loss, etc.).
In addition to the fact that a high desk reduces the frequent sources of discomfort and pain, it also stimulates your body by keeping your muscles in action, which optimizes your physical and mental well-being.
Another important benefit is that this ergonomic desk can significantly reduce sedentary habits. Indeed, changing between sitting and standing contributes to the breakdown of fat and sugars, which in turn reduces the risk of weight gain. And finally, changing posture regularly improves your body's blood circulation and oxygenation of the brain, which results in a higher level of concentration and improved performance at work.
How to use your standing desk?
For several years now, many companies have been acquiring furniture adapted to sitting and standing working positions, which are available to all employees who wish to test this new way of work. If you also wish to equip yourself with an adjustable desk to take advantage of its health benefits, here are some tips that will allow you to use your standing desk properly.
1. Adjust your desk and monitor
Proper desk height and computer monitor position are fundamental to improving comfort and minimizing the risk of office injuries. To start, adjust the height of your standing desk to about elbow height. This means that your elbows should be at approximately 90 degrees to the floor. As a rule of thumb, the average person (height of 5'11" or 180 cm) should have their desk at height of 111 cm (44").
By doing these adjustments, your keyboard will be accessible without the need of bending over to it. The position of your feet is also crucial to improve your posture and relieve your lower back. To achieve this, it is recommended to have your feet flat on the floor. Do not hesitate to buy a footrest which will be very effective for smaller people.
Concerning the screens of our computers, we all tend to place them too low. This position engages the muscles of the neck and back too much to sustain the inclination of the head. However, it is very important to take into account that our head represents about 8% of our body weight. While recommendations for screen position are not black and white, the general consensus is to have it at 20 to 28 inches (51 to 71 cm) from your face. As a quick reference, the distance shouldn't be less than from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow. Moreover, the top of your screen should be at eye level, with a small upward tilt of between 10 and 20 degrees. The idea is that you should never need to tilt up or down your neck.
2. Alternate regularly between sitting and standing positions and do it gradually
On average, we spend between 60% and 80% of our days sitting in an office. This time spent sitting affects our health. Indeed, the muscles of our legs as well as our skin are affected by prolonged sitting. Varicose veins eventually appear. It is strongly recommended to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 to 60 minutes.
It's quite clear that you won't be able to change your work habits overnight, especially if you've spent the past 15 years sitting at your desk without getting up. You have to start gradually in order to reach an optimal ratio between your sitting and standing position. It's okay if you don't get it right the first time and don't achieve your goals from the start. After all, nobody would try to lift a 150 kg barbell on his or her first visit to the gym! So don't be so unrealistic and disappointed if you don't reach the endurance threshold you set for yourself on day one.
Instead, set an attainable goal, such as successfully working on your feet for about 1 hour a day at first, 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The worst thing you can do is strain your body and give up before you've even really started. You can slowly increase the amount of time you spend standing by 2 to 10 minutes per week until you feel more comfortable standing for longer periods of time and get to the ideal ratio for you. We also recommend buying a standing desk accessory like a timer.
3. Make sure you have good posture when standing and sitting
When sitting, your back must be constantly supported by the back of your chair. In order for it to adapt to the shape of your back, the backrest should have a curved shape and be padded. A poor sitting position increases the stress on the discs and vertebrae of your back and therefore leads to back pain. It is essential to have lumbar support so that the discs and vertebrae of the back are not put under pressure. Since the majority of back pain is caused by a combination of sedentary habits and poor posture, following these recommendations will help you reduce the health risks related to your sitting position.
When you work standing at a desk, you need to make sure you maintain the right posture. To do this, stand in front of your desk with your shoulders back, keeping your arms relaxed at your sides. Try not to lock your knees while maintaining a slight bend. Following these tips will prevent them from hyperextending or locking their joints, which may lead to injury. Keeping your spine in a neutral position is the ideal posture to adopt when working in a standing position. Following these tips is the first line of defense when it comes to back pain.
In addition to the possibility of moving from sitting to standing posture, you can add movements to your routine (treadmill, pilates ball, balance board for stand-up desk, mini elliptical, bicycle trainer, etc.) in order to improve blood flow, breathing and digestion.
4. Change the position of your keyboard and mouse.
Working long hours in front of the computer can make your wrists tired. Therefore, it is essential to optimize your wrist position when sitting or standing.
The ideal angle when standing is slightly wider (tilted upward) than when sitting. To protect your wrists when standing, always keep your mouse and keyboard level and your wrists straight when typing. If you still experience occasional wrist pain, consider using an adjustable keyboard support and a gel mouse pad for optimal support.
Whether you are sitting or standing, you need to adopt a proper posture. The best posture is to stand up straight. Your back, neck and head should be straight in front of the computer, and start slowly. By following the tips above, will be able to take advantages of the health and financial benefits offered by a standing desk.