Working whilst standing isn’t really something new. After all we can trace back the use of standing desks to the 1700s where Thomas Jefferson would use his ‘tall desk’. It featured a slanted top which could be adjusted on a ratchet. Novelist, Ernerst Hemingway would write whilst standing, so would Winston Churchill at home, and the writer Virginia Woolf according to her nephew and biographer Quentin Bell.
We can see over the decades that standing when presenting or speaking also holds a certain authority over those who are seated. We can see through research that authority is determined by relative height. Standing up takes authority naturally without having to be pushy. Sitting down gives it up or at least creates a different atmosphere. Perhaps one that is more conversational and a situation where open debate is welcome.
Perhaps this is why you’ll find many salespeople, traders or people who need to make important decisions pacing the hallways of the office or standing to exude a more natural confidence in the way they speak. If you are looking to demonstrate a more confident air when talking to colleagues, or when presenting a webinar then easily adjusting your workstation to a standing position could be beneficial
Standing whilst working isn’t new, just the way we speak about it might be. We now have much evidence to show the physical benefits of standing throughout the day.
Sitting for long periods has been linked to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. The rise in the use of standing desks means that the standing desk market is likely to reach $2.8 Billion by 2025. As of 2016, the market is led collectively by the mechanically adjustable and converter standing desks segment.
Whilst there is a rise in the use of standing desks it should be noted that these are just an intervention to reduce sitting time. There is evidence to show the benefits of standing, it just may not be the full solution to people’s sedentary lifestyles. Recently published research by Dr Chris van Tullekan has shown some significant insights into the effects of using a standing desk. One of which is when standing participants had a tiny increase in their heart rate which, when averaged over the days, weeks and months leads to the equivalent number of calories burned as if they’d run about 10 marathons in the year.
In real terms though this means that when standing, people burn approximately an additional 8 calories an hour than if they were seated. If weight loss is your goal, then just the act of standing may not yield significant enough results for you. Walking though for 30 minutes has been shown to burn approximately 100 calories so pacing around the office, taking phone calls whilst walking or going out for a lunch time stroll might be more impactful for weight loss.
The other significant finding from Dr van Tullekan’s research was that those who were standing were able to clear the sugar out of their blood stream more quickly than when they were sitting down; this is usually seen in people who demonstrate active lifestyles. Anecdotally many people do say that using a standing desk helps to reduce the onset of back, neck and shoulder pain. It allows them to stretch their body and get out of a sometimes-awkward seated posture to be able to readjust themselves and create a more neutral posture.
A neutral posture is a position that supports the natural curves of the spine and maintain your body in good alignment. A position of ease for the body to sustain with minimal effort. This is much easier to do in a standing position or when lying flat on your back as the curvatures of the spine are naturally supported. When seated, especially in a slouched position kyphosis of the spine can occur which creates a ‘C’ shape like posture of the spine. This type of posture can put unnecessary strain on the lower back and cause discomfort or pain.
There are two popular types of desks at the moment that help to create a standing position; a mechanical and electrical desk or a “on the desk top” solution.
Electric desks can be beneficial, as with a touch of a button you have the ability to move the desk from a seated to standing position. This can take a mere few seconds, so with that in mind there really is no excuse not to stand throughout the day when it is so easy to do so. Some electric desks also have a small digital screen which can show you the height of the desk. You can programme the perfect position for when you are seated and standing which also reduces the time needed to adjust your workstation.