You have probably heard the hype about standing desks and wondered how much of it is true. Standing desks are currently trending and people are attributing all types of health benefits to them. Figuring out what is real and what is just hype can help you decide if a standing desk is right for you.
We will get the bad news out of the way, first: a standing desk is not going to make you skinny or let you skip the gym. While it is true that you burn about 10% more calories standing than sitting, the net increase is only about 8 calories an hour. In an 8-hour day that translates to 64 calories which is not enough, on its own, to help you lose weight or even to prevent weight gain. Standing burns significantly fewer calories than walking, so even if you get a standing desk you need to make sure and incorporate regular physical activity into your day.
Of course, comparing direct energy expenditures of standing and sitting in a controlled environment tends to ignore some other factors that surround the idea of being sedentary. If you are at a standing desk, are you more likely to incorporate some exercise into your day, even if it is just a few jumping jacks or squats? Are you more likely to walk around the office if you are at a standing desk? Are you less likely to snack? While the studies on these questions are not yet completed, there is substantial anecdotal evidence to suggest that standing desks encourage people to engage in other healthy habits. We know that extended sitting times are linked with a variety of health problems including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and even premature death. A standing desk is not the final solution to these problems but can be a good first step.
Standing desks also help you avoid the body issues caused by the ergonomics of extended sitting. Next strain, eye strain, upper cross syndrome, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis throughout the arms and neck may all be linked to constant screen usage and the posture people take while seated. A standing desk can help you correct those problems and ease some of the strain on the body. In fact, using a combination of standing and sitting, as well as taking frequent scheduled stretching breaks can help you avoid or treat many of those issues.