How high should a standing desk be, and how long should you sit and stand? We answer these important questions in this article, and more.
It cannot be repeated often enough, a sedentary lifestyle in general, but working while seated, is seriously detrimental to your health. But despite these warnings, and according to Fellowes, around 81% of British office workers spend between 4 and 9 hours a day sitting at their desks.
Unfortunately, according to many recent international studies, sitting for more than 4 hours each day leads to:
- Reduced calorie burning;
- Disrupted blood sugar levels;
- Increased insulin and blood pressure levels;
- Leg muscles switch off;
- Heart disease;
- Poor brain oxygenation.
- Loss of muscle mass.
Add to this list the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and back problems, and you have the full picture of the health issues at stake. Fortunately, a standing desk seems to be a good compromise to reduce the above-mentioned risks.
After extensive research, we have put together for you, what you need to consider when it comes to the height of your standing desk, and how a proper use of a standing desk can benefit everybody (employees, companies, freelancer, etc.).
So, let us get started with the article!!
What is a standing desk?
As the name suggests, it is a piece of furniture that can be adjusted in height to suit your height. The discomfort caused by sitting for long periods and the recurrence of back pain led to the development of this innovative convertible product. Thanks to this system, it is now possible to change your posture according to your needs, very easily.
This type of multipurpose desk allows you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. And it is probably the best answer to problems directly related to a static work activity that requires the use of a computer.
Even more, a sit stand desk offers these additional benefits:
- Relieves muscle tension: By changing position several times a day, we relax our neck, shoulders and back and avoid tension.
- Reduces back problems: By standing, we naturally strengthen our deep muscles, which support our spine, and thus reduce all posture-related back problems.
- Reduces weight gain: Standing causes us to consume more calories than sitting (up to 60 extra calories per hour).
- Improves blood circulation: Helps to overcome the undesirable effects of prolonged sitting on the venous system.
- Reduces all pathologies linked to a sedentary lifestyle: Diabetes, obesity, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders are improved by daily physical activity.
- Improved teamwork: Behavioral experts have conducted a study that confirms that people are better at communicating when standing. It seems that sitting limits our ability to communicate.
Why is standing desk’s height important?
When we work, sitting (standing) too low or too high in relation to your desk top can have real consequences on your day-to-day comfort, but also on your whole body in the long run. When the desk top is not at the right level, you will tend to bend your back and neck, which can cause muscle contractions and pain. This is true if you work in a seated position, but also when you work on a stand-up desk.
Similarly, with a desk that is too high, the positioning of your forearms encourages you to rest your wrists on the edge of the table top, creating compression at that level. When it is too low, your shoulders tend to come up and contract. In the long run, this can lead to the so-called musculoskeletal disorders that we want to avoid at all costs. A desk that leaves too much space between your thighs and the tabletop can also present some risks. So, we all understand that it is extremely important to set your standing desk’s height as the proper level.
How to set the right height for my standing desk
A desk at the right height needs to be suitable for your whole body. Your height will largely determine the ideal dimensions.
Here are the steps you should follow to get the Optimal standing desk height adjustment:
- To determine the right height for your desk, stand up straight and relax your shoulders (but don't lock your knees). Your head and your neck should be balanced and aligned with the torso!
- Then bend your arms so that your elbows are at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible (no less than 90 degrees so as not to bend your shoulders and no more than 110 degrees).
- Your desk should be placed at elbow height so that your hands can easily reach your keyboard and your mouse without bending your wrists.
- Moreover, the top of the screen should be at eye level, or just below to avoid neck strain. You may want to consider an adjustable monitor arm for more precision.
- Even more, If you are using a laptop with a sit stand desk, be sure to use a remote keyboard or a separate monitor to ensure that the top of your screen is at eye level and your arms are rested at the same time!
A word of warning to female users, your height can change dramatically if you decide to wear heels one day... So, it's best to have a desk with adjustable height. But if you want to keep things simple, wear flat shoes - or if your office mates don't mind, just take off your shoes and put on slippers!
How long should you really stand (sit) at your desk?
According to the CCOHS, the recommendations is to alternate between sitting and standing approximately every 20 to 60 minutes. Your health professional can also give you recommendations. But the important thing is to change your position according to your needs. If you are new this routine, give your body time to adapt to your new routine (start with the minimum).
It is also important to understand that standing in a virtually static position can also be harmful to your health. On the other hand, using a step stool could increase your comfort when working in a standing position. The idea is to put one foot on it, either left or right, alternately. A box, a plastic tray, ... whatever you have at hand!
Even more, remember that it is still important to take breaks from the computer to help reduce eye strain, as well as varying your head, upper body, arm and hand positions.
Setting the height of your standing desk to the right height is the best way to enjoy your work surface. With numerous scientific studies showing the dangers of sitting all day (even if you use an ergonomic chair), an adjustable height desk can help mitigate the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Despite its higher price tag than a traditional desk, the benefits of working at a standing desk far outweigh the drawbacks. Whether it is an electric or manual desk, and if your budget allows, we can only recommend its use.
Height isn't the only important factor, however. Read more about how deep your desk should be in our full guide on the topic.
Standing desk UK- Frequently asked questions.
Is a standing desk suitable for everyone?
The answer is YES! It' s a height-adjustable desk that is particularly easy to use. Its basic use makes it accessible to everyone. On top of that, the benefits are such that they will meet everyone's postural needs. Whether you are 1.60 m or 1.90 m tall, the sit stand desk will fit you!
What types of standing desks are available?
There are two main types of standing desk, the electric standing desk and the mechanical or manual standing desk:
- The manual standing desk: This type of desk is generally more affordable than its motorised brother-Electric standing desks. A handle or crank will allow you to adjust the height of your desk. Less precise and slower, a manual standing desk is more suitable for people on a tight budget or for occasional use.
- The electric standing desk: Here, the lifting system consists of one, two or three motors that are connected by a drive shaft. Its main benefit is that it allows you to move the desk effortlessly, regardless of the weight of the table top. You can choose height adjustable desks with position (height) memory, child safety, anti-collision system or with a usb hub to charge your smartphone.
What are the disadvantages of a standing desk?
The main disadvantage of an adjustable desk is its price. An adjustable height desk is definitely more expensive. Moreover, if you adjust the height of your desk incorrectly, you can still be prone to back problems and musculoskeletal disorders.
Does a standing desk really increase productivity?
Increased productivity is not a direct consequence of a standing desk, but it is an important factor. A standing desk allows you to be physically active during your working hours. Depending on the tasks you have to perform, your attention and concentration will be improved, which will result in improved productivity.
Which standing desks allow me to use two screens?
If the computer is your main working tool, you know how quickly having two screens becomes a must. For two 24" screens, for example, we recommend a desk with a minimum width of 140 cm. If you are working with a laptop and a second 24" monitor, then 120 cm is sufficient.