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7 Benefits of a Standing Desk

Updated: Feb 3, 2020


7 Benefits of a Standing Desk

What Is a Standing Desk?

A standing desk, also called a stand-up desk, is basically a desk that allows you to stand up comfortably while working (5).

Many modern versions are adjustable, so that you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing.

These are referred to as height-adjustable desks, or sit-stand desks.

Although research is still in early stages, it does appear that using a standing desk can have impressive benefits for health. It may also increase productivity.

At the very least, using this type of desk can partly negate the harmful effects of sitting too much.

Here are 7 benefits of using a standing desk, that are supported by science.

1. Standing Lowers Your Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity

Weight gain is ultimately caused by taking in more calories than you burn.

Conversely, burning more calories than you take in results in weight loss.

While exercise is the most effective way to burn calories quickly, simply choosing to stand instead of sitting can also be beneficial.

In fact, when compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of time spent standing has been shown to burn over 170 additional calories (6).

That's almost 1000 extra calories burned each week from simply standing at your desk each afternoon.

This caloric difference could be one of the reasons why sitting longer is so strongly linked to obesity and metabolic disease (1, 7).

2. Using a Standing Desk May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Generally speaking, the more your blood sugar levels increase after meals, the worse it is for your health.

This is especially true for those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

In a small study of 10 office workers, standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time (6).

Both groups took the same amount of steps, indicating that the smaller spike was due to standing rather than additional physical movements around the office.

Another study involving 23 office workers found that alternating between standing and sitting every 30 minutes throughout the workday reduced blood sugar spikes by 11.1% on average (7).

The harmful effects of sitting after meals could help explain why excessive sedentary time is linked to a whopping 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes (2).

3. Standing May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

The idea that standing is better for heart health was first proposed in 1953.

A study found that bus conductors who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths as their colleagues in the driver's seats (8).

Since then, scientists have developed a much greater understanding of the effects of sitting on heart health, with prolonged sedentary time thought to increase the risk of heart disease by up to 147% (2, 9).

It is so harmful that even an hour of intense exercise may not make up for the negative effects of an entire day spent sitting (10).

There is no doubt that spending more time on your feet is beneficial for heart health.

4. Standing Desks Appear to Reduce Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common complaints of office workers who sit all day.

To determine if standing desks could improve this, several studies have been done on employees with long-term back pain.