7 Surprising Benefits of a Standing Desk: A Guide for Every Home Worker

This article explores the benefits of a standing desk for writers, creatives, and freelancers who work from home.

Thanks to technology, we've become a society that sits… and often all day.

Going back to the internal combustible engine, the car, the big-screen television, the computer, our collection of smart devices, and the sofa, we have become more sedentary.

If sitting for long periods is the new smoking, then a standing desk is kind of like a Nicotine patch.

The workplace, whether in an office setting or your home writing set-up, mirrors society in a microcosm.

For several decades, workers have become accustomed to clocking in and sitting at a desk all day, working at a computer.

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Why Use a Standing Desk?

One in four American adults sits for more than eight hours a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as reported by Time.

An increasing number of employers and workers are exploring the benefits of using a standing desk to ward off some common maladies coming to light that we can trace back to sitting time.

Ernest Hemingway is an example of a famous writer who worked from home using a standing desk.

What if we can solve issues like chronic back pain and climbing obesity rates by merely standing up? It is undoubtedly worth exploring to help writers get on track, avoid lower back pain, and improve their health.

What Is A Standing Desk?

benefits of a standing desk
My standing desk in my office

According to Healthline, a standing desk allows you to stand while working comfortably. Early versions of standing desks were static and not as ergonomically beneficial as they are today.

Today's versions are also known as a sit-stand desk or a height-adjustable desk. Typically, they are electronically powered, so you can alternate between sitting and standing during the day.

Designers consider factors such as monitoring size and height, varying tasks of a team member that may include answering a telephone along with working on a computer, and the need to take meetings with colleagues sitting down.

Many modern offerings allow employees to adjust a sit-stand desk's height and other features to accommodate their working needs.

What Are The Benefits Of A Standing Desk?

In September 2019, U.S. News Health shared the story of Evan Donahue, a worker in his mid-20s who complained of stiffness in his joints and back and occasional hip cracks.

Donahue decided to build a rudimentary standing desk to see how that might improve his back pain and other ailments.

While his crude design had some fundamental flaws, the idea took root with his employer, who invested in Donahue and his ingenuity and bought him a legitimate standing desk.

Donahue reported it improved his health.

Such stories show that sit-stand desk options are viable and can boost employees' health, as long as employers are on board and invest in up-on-your-feet thinking.

Basically, a height-adjusted desk encourages workers to spend more time standing than sitting, which is better for health and productivity.

Here are a few key benefits you can expect after investing in a standing desk while writing or working from home throughout the day.

1. A Natural Way To Spend More Time Standing On Your Feet

Maybe you go out for a walk or a bicycle ride before you sit down at your writing desk. Not everyone does that each day because of other obligations, such as taking children to school.

You will instantly start enjoying the health benefits of a standing desk merely because you are on your feet instead of in your seat.

How?

First, you burn more calories. Healthline reports the average adult burns 100-200 calories versus the 60-130 calories burned during the sitting time.

Second, there is a kinetic factor involved with working on your feet wherein a body in motion stays in motion.

When you are already standing, you are more likely to do everything from fidget to walk to a coworker's desk for an impromptu meeting, rather than calling or sending an email from your office chair.

In short, a good standing desk mitigates a more sedentary lifestyle.

2. Weight Loss And Other Physiological Changes

Many people working in office environments fight the creeping weight increase that often accompanies an office job.

Fast Company reported on a study regarding standing desks, which found that 18 participants who used a sit-stand desk for three months lost weight.

While their body composition stayed the same, they shed pounds, which is a positive goal on its own.

That's because standing burns more calories than sitting for a long period daily. You could even go one step further and opt for a treadmill desk.

3. Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Increased blood sugar levels are on the rise in a sedentary work world where pot lucks are commonplace.

The National Library of Medicine shared an article that shows positive results on blood glucose levels and responses for workers introduced to a hybrid sitting and standing work environment instead of their ordinarily desk-based work conditions.

That's not the only health benefit of a standing desk either.

4. Reduced Back Pain And Fatigue

You may often find yourself slightly hunched over when you stand up from your writing desk after a long day of proofreading and editing.

However, you're less likely to hunch over a computer screen with bad posture while standing.

The National Library of Medicine reported on a 2014 study wherein office workers intermittently stood to work, resulting in reduced fatigue and musculoskeletal pain and discomfort in overweight and obese workers. The fatigue score was markedly higher during the seated phases of the study.

A standing desk also helped me avoid writing in pain.

5. Improved Energy Levels And Mood

It's natural to feel sluggish and unmotivated if you've been sitting for hours.

Much like any physical activity, standing up will change your mood and energy level for a while and enable you to refocus on a troublesome project.

Again a treadmill desk will help you combine work with more intense physical activity.

6. Improved Productivity

All that extra positive energy translates to more productivity or more words for your next novel, short story, blog post, or white paper.

You name the genre, style, format, or publishing venue; you can do it when you are up on your feet, feeling good and energized.

When you mix sitting and standing time, you give yourself a chance to recover when sitting and stay energized while standing.

7. Enhanced Team Building And Communication

You don't have to wait for a 15-minute break to have a quick chat with a colleague. You can pop across the aisle or catch each other's attention and talk about lunch plans or the progress on your latest project.

Standing desk atmospheres lend themselves to a more easygoing spirit and open communications.

A sitting desk is more conducive towards hiding from colleagues.

Are Standing Desks Really Better For You?

Using a standing desk is better for you in moderation.

It can help you balance sitting at a computer all day with some moderate physical activity. And it's a nice change of pace from sitting down.

That said, standing for hours on end can prove tiring and even lead to foot pain.

Whether you choose a hybrid scenario where you stand an hour and sit two hours before repeating the cycle or adopt another strategy, any time on your feet can help improve your health, mood, sense of well-being, and productivity.

How Long Should You Stand At Your Standing Desk?

You may wonder how long you should stand to reap the benefits of your adjustable standing desk. I checked in at the University of Waterloo's Kinesiology Department and found that they recommend 30 minutes per hour to gain vital health benefits.

Can A Standing Desk Help You Lose Weight?

If you are trying to find ways to trim your waist and fatten your word count, you are not alone.

You will be happy to learn that standing at your desk to write burns more calories than sitting. It also spurs more movement throughout the day, thanks to your improved mood and energy levels.

Take a moment to review calories burned for a female at the Healthline website. Consider a 180-lb woman who sits for eight hours a day.

She burns 575 calories after sitting eight hours for her workday. The same 180-lb woman burns 877 calories after four hours of sitting and four hours of standing for a daily difference of 302 calories burned.

What Is The Best Way To Stand At A Standing Desk?

Alternate Between Standing And Sitting

Studies have shown that workers who stand for entire shifts-such as bank tellers, sales associates, and production line employees-suffer their share of ailments, such as chronic back pain.

Having used a standing desk for two years, I recommend standing for 30 seconds to six minutes at first, until you adapt to this way of working. Any longer is tiring. That said, you can increase the amount of time spent standing each week or month.

Adjust Your Sit Stand Workstation: Calibrate the Desk And Monitor

The National Library of Medicine recommends considering these factors when planning your sit-stand workstation:

  • Your height
  • Your computer size, whether laptop or desktop and monitor
  • Workstation height, including standing and seated vantage points

The abstract goes on to recommend six adjustments for your workstation:

  1. Footrest height
  2. Seat support height
  3. Computer base support height
  4. Distance between your body and computer
  5. The tilt angle of the computer
  6. Monitor/screen angle

Are There Any Downsides To Using A Standing Desk?

Quartz has shared one dark side effect of the standing desk, which is “cankles.”

Yes, friends, you may experience that classic portmanteau that combines “calves” and “ankles” to express a swollen or otherwise plump pair of ankles.

Cankles can develop when standing too long, exerting too much pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet.

The moral of the story is to proceed with caution, building up to longer standing times throughout the day, so that you don't trade one ailment for another. If you're worried, opt to a height-adjustable sit-stand desks.

Standing Desk Pro Tip

If you're going to spend a few hours working at an adjustable desk and want to spend less time sitting, consider investing in an anti-fatigue mat.

It's a type of cushioned matt for standing on without shoes. This type of matt reduces pressure on your legs and enables standing at a workstation for longer.

standing mat
A standing matt reduces the pressure on your legs

Standing Desks: The Verdict

The best ergonomic standing desks offer many benefits.

I recommend considering a hybrid sit-stand desk if you want alternate between sitting and standing while working from home or writing. That's what I have. Previously, I kept a couch in my office. It was nice to nap on but it took up a lot of space.

If you buy a dedicated standing desk, take care to wear comfortable shoes, keep a stool or work chair nearby. It's also a good idea to check the dimensions of the desk before you buy it. Investing in a matt will help too.

Having used a standing desk for two years, I wouldn't go back. I like being able to raise and lower the desk, depending on what I'm working on and how energized I feel.

Standing Desks FAQs

Should you use a standing desk all day?

If you're new to using a standing desk or workstation, stand for an hour or two at the start of the day. Then, adjust your desk and sit down. Alternating between sitting and standing offers a nice balance. Standing for a long period is also tiring, unless you have a matt.

Are standing desks worth the money?

A standing desk is worth the money if you work at home and lot, have the space for it and spend a lot of time sitting. As a typical sit stand workstation is electric, it typically cost several hundred dollars more than a standard sitting desk and takes up more space.

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7 Surprising Benefits of a Standing Desk: A Guide for Every Home Worker
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