How to best utilize your sit- stand desk

26-Oct-2015 | Press,Knowledge-Hub

So, you put in a request for a sit-stand desk a year ago! Your boss has finally found the budget to purchase it and at long last, your desk has arrived. But now what? How high should you make the desk? How often and long should you stand for? Is standing enough to beat those health risks you keep hearing about?

Firstly, Sit stand desk are desks that have adjustable height ranges to allow the user to work from a seated or standing position. 

Benefits of sit to stand desks

Sit-stand desks have many health and productivity benefits. The Economist has reported that It has now become apparent that long periods of sedentary work is bad for your health (twice as likely to develop diabetes, twice as likely to die from a heart attack and two-and-a-half times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease) regardless of whether you are an active person outside of work hours. According to the latest research, it is necessary to do the constant low-level activity. Sit-stand desks have also been reported to not only enable standing but also encourage movement and physical activity within the office as well as invigorating and energising users.  

How to set up and correct posture

In order to reap the health benefits of a sit-stand desk it is essential to set up your desk to encourage good posture and stance. It is also important to be conscious that you are standing with their entire body inline and with your core turned on and not leaning onto the desk.

The workstation should be at or just under elbow height, with the top of the screen being in line with eye level. Figure 1 from Monash University illustrates best use of a sit-stand desks.

How long should you stand for?

Sitting for longer than an hour has been shown to induce biochemical changes in lipoprotein lipase activity and in glucose metabolism and is also related to heart disease risks. This seems to be a widespread and known fact but if we shouldn’t sit all day, then how long should we stand for?

The University of Waterloo reports that standing all day can be just as harmful as sitting with research showing that excessive standing can lead to additional load on the circulatory system. There is no general consensus on the amount of time one should sit or stand, but according to Jack Callaghan a “Canada Research Chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention” in order to reduce back and neck pain caused by both sitting and standing the ratio should be 45 mins standing of every hour at work, with a minimum of 30 mins an hour to gain health benefits.

But is simply standing enough?

Time has reported on Alan Hedge’s finding, a professor at Cornell University, College of Human Ecology. He has found that simply standing is not enough, in order to reduce all the aforementioned complications caused by long term sitting or standing, it is necessary to ‘move’. This does not need to be extraneous exercise like running or jumping jacks, but rather just a 2min walk will achieve the desired outcome.

What if you don’t yet have a desk?

Has your office not yet found the budget for a sit-stand desk? Don’t despair there are still things you can do to improve your health while you wait for that day. First and foremost make sure you have an ergonomic and comfortable chair that supports your lumbar and encourages good posture. Secondly, ensure that your monitor and desk are set to the right height. Lastly, don’t forget to stand up and go for a walk every 20 minutes, be it to the bathroom, to talk to a colleague or get a cup of tea.

Not all sit-stand desks were born equal

There are two types of sit-stand desks on the market, the winder adjusts and the electric. However, they do vary in price considerably, the wind up sit-stand desk is much cheaper and is adjusted up and down by cranking a handle. This option is not as sophisticated as its electric equivalent, but it is certainly a cost effective option that will achieve the sit-stand goal. View an example here Trilogy.

The second option has an electric motor and with a press of a button you can raise or lower the desk. This makes for a smoother and faster transition from sitting to standing. The electric sit-stand desk comes in varying levels of sophistication. The most basic option allows users to press an up and down button which they release when they are at the desired height. The next step up has programmable controls that allow the user to program 3 preferred work heights. The most sophisticated of the electric controls syncs to computers and wearable trackers such as the fit bit, and informs the user when to sit stand or even go for a walk. View an example here Engage

1. “Real science lies behind the fad for standing up at work.” The Economist. 19 October 2015. 
2. “Sit stand desks - OHS information sheet” Monash University. 19 October 2015. 
3. “How long should you stand - rather than sit - at your work station?” University of Waterloo 19 October 2015 
4. “The Dangers of Sitting at Work — and Standing” Time 19 October 2015

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