Standing desks have become the fastest workplace benefit for U.S. employees. So much so that in 2017, 44% of surveyed HR folks reported that they'll start using such desks.
It's not only in the U.S. though -- on a global scale, sales of standing desks may hit $2.8 billion come 2025.
These boom behind these desks came after science said that "sitting is the new smoking". Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke -- you name it, sitting can cause it.
The thing is, prolonged standing also comes with hazards. Dangers that an anti-fatigue standing desk mat can help you prevent.
With these ergonomic mats, you don't have to ditch your standing desk and go back to sitting.
So, how exactly can these products help and why should you invest in one? All that, we'll answer in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
What Prolonged Standing Can Do to You
In 2017, almost 50% of U.S. adults reported being prone to back pain. Granted, a lot of factors, such as poor sleep posture and injuries, can cause back pain. But studies also showed how prolonged standing at work can lead to chronic back pain.
Research has also shown that too much standing can result in greater heart disease risks. One reason is that this can cause the blood to pool in the legs and put more pressure in the veins. The result is oxidative stress, which then damages the cells.
At the very least, standing for long periods of time strains the muscles, especially in the legs and feet. This causes swelling and pain, not to mention varicose veins and muscle fatigue. It also affects your neck and shoulders, causing stiffness and pain.
It’s All in the Balance
The researchers (behind prolonged sitting and standing) say they're "not contradicting" each other. Both prolonged sitting and standing can affect your health in different ways. The key to preventing their consequences is to stay active at work and move more.
Where a Standing Desk Mat Comes into Play
Anti-fatigue mats are special mats designed to reduce fatigue from standing for hours. Traditionally, their use was for job sites where workers had to stand on hard surfaces. Think kitchen crew, waitresses, welders, salespeople, pharmacists, and electricians.
But then came the introduction of innovative ergonomic office furniture, particularly standing desks. These desks are adjustable, so they promote and help maintain proper posture. Studies, like this one, also found that standing desk users experienced less back pain.
But as useful and beneficial as standing desks are, you may still end up standing for too long. The health risks go up if you aren't moving that much, such as if your job requires you to concentrate on the computer.
Standing constricts many areas of your body. As a result, your heart has to work harder so it can bring blood to these constricted body parts. All that extra effort means your body will run out of fuel faster.
If you use an anti-fatigue standing desk mat, however, your muscles will see some action. As you stand on the mat, your feet and legs will need to adjust to the mat's flexibility and material. This'll then cause subtle contractions and expansions in your muscles.
With this movement in your muscles come improved blood flow. The constricted areas of your body and your heart will get more oxygen-rich blood. You'll expend less energy, so you'll feel much less fatigued.
Less Joint and Muscle Pressure Means Increased Comfort
A mat for standing desk often comes with a squishy foam about one to three inches thick. The material and design provide both comfort and support to your muscles and joints. It acts as a cushioning while taking some of the pressure that standing places on your body.
These benefits of a standing desk floor may allow you to remain comfortable as you stand. The more comfortable you feel, the better you can focus on work. That means increased productivity and even better work output.
Supplementing Standing with More Subtle Movements
Using a standing desk at work is great, but it's not a complete ergonomic solution. Standing alone won't let you escape the consequences of the sitting disease.
What you want is to incorporate more movements at work, especially with your legs. If you can't leave your chair (like the 40% of working U.S. adults), use an anti-fatigue standing desk mat. Those muscle contractions they create can supplement the benefits of your standing desk.
Less Body Pain, Better (and Longer) Sleep
After standing for long hours at a time, the only thing you want to do is to jump in bed and sleep. But then, the leg, back, shoulder or arm pain hits you after creeping under the covers. That pain may affect your sleep, making it hard for you to either fall or stay asleep.
Even if you do get a few hours of sleep, you'll still likely feel tired upon waking up. That tiredness makes you irritable, affect your concentration, and reduce your productivity.
Poor sleep can also impair your driving abilities, putting you at risk of road crashes. In fact, driver drowsiness is a major contributor to 7% of all traffic accidents in the U.S.
And let's not forget about lack of sleep causing possible weight gain. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation alters appetite hormones, including leptin and ghrelin. Triggering these chemicals can make you hungrier faster.
All these are possible consequences of pain caused by prolonged standing without movement. Avoid these risks by moving more at work and investing in the best standing desk mat.
Get the Most Out of Your Standing Desk with an Anti-Fatigue Mat
An adjustable ergonomic desk is no doubt a huge step towards a healthier workplace. But you can make it work harder while keeping the risks of prolonged standing low with a standing desk mat.
Want to know the other secrets of a healthier, safer workplace? Then be sure to check out this list of other ergonomic furniture every office should have!