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The Science of Standing Desks

Posted by Uncaged Ergonomics on


According to a study by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health, standing desks are as beneficial as they are trendy. It’s not just workers’ health that was improved. Their productivity significantly increased as well.

The Science is Clear

A total of 167 employees in a Texas call center participated in the study over a six-month period. During the study, researchers found that employees using standing desks were more productive than their colleagues in standard, seated desks. During the study, the productivity of those using standing desks continued to increase over their seated colleagues. In the first month, the stand-capable group had 23 percent more successful calls than their seated colleagues, and by the sixth month, they had 53 percent more successful calls. The findings, which were gathered between fall 2013 and spring 2014, were published in the journal IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors .

Video Testimonials

In this Facebook video, Romi Singh Gill discusses how his productivity has improved since he started using a standing desk.

Another study, funded by the American Society of Inter Designers Foundation (ASIDF), evaluated behavioral changes in office workers who used height adjustable desks. Among these behavioral changes were improved energy, less musculoskeletal pain, and increased awareness of posture. CNBC’s Jim Cramer agrees.

The University of Queensland in Australia did a study of sit-stand and treadmill desks . They found that office workers who use these desks  demonstrate improved productivity and fewer signs of workplace stress.

Benefits of Standing While Working

James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, says, “The default has become to sit. We need the default to be standing.” He and other scientists note that most people sit all day, with very short walks to the restroom, to the break room, or to the parking lot. And evidence suggests that brief exercise won’t counteract the negative effects of hours of sitting.

Improved Posture. Even the best office chair won’t keep you at perfect posture all day—over time, you probably end up slumping or slouching in one direction or another. Maybe you’ll lean forward, hunching over your keyboard, or rest your chin on one of your hands while you read what’s onscreen. Poor posture can lead to back pain from straining your neck, as well as to herniated discs, and even overall muscle weakness.

You can not only help improve your posture but also add more physical activity to your workday by using an adjustable standing desk. When you can adjust the height of your desk, you can use it while sitting or standing. Alternating your position from standing to sitting during your workday can help you maintain better posture, which in turn can alleviate back pain.

Increased Physical Activity. Standing burns more calories than sitting. You might need some time to work your way up to standing while working, and that’s where an adjustable height desk comes in. These desks move vertically to the ideal position for you no matter whether you’re sitting or standing. Work toward a goal of standing for about half your workday, but don’t overdo it, or try to do it all at once! Wear comfortable shoes and gradually increase the time you spend standing. You can even try using a timer like the one at standingclock.com to track the time you stand during the day.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. Sitting all day seems to be related to reducing the body’s effectiveness in regulating blood sugar known as metabolic syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that “All adults, and particularly those with type 2 diabetes, should decrease the amount of time spent in daily sedentary behavior.” Additionally, a recent Kaiser Permanente study suggested that men who spent at least five hours a day sitting had twice the risk of heart failure when compared to those who sit less than two hours a day and exercise often.

An adjustable height desk can help you move more, improve your posture, and help prevent disease. That’s a pretty compelling reason to give standing while working a try.

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