A new feature has been popping up across the nation’s office landscape: standing desks. The idea behind these upright workspaces stems from a growing mountain of research that shows that sitting for extended periods of time increases a person’s risk of obesity, musculoskeletal problems (including back pain) and even heart disease. At first blush, standing at your desk seems to be a logical solution, but is being on your feet all day really the healthiest choice?
Standing Desks: Passing Fad or Smart Choice?
Is there any evidence that standing for eight hours a day is a preferable alternative to sitting for eight hours a day? There is no research that says yes. However, there is proof that standing for extended periods puts a heavier load on the cardiovascular system, increasing a person’s risk of atherosclerosis, varicose veins, and back and foot pain. These side effects might sound scary, but most people are unlikely to use their standing desk long enough to experience them. Field studies show that workers tend to abandon their standing and treadmill desks within the first month of use, likely because standing all day is anything but pleasant. It may also be that they are unable to adjust their work habits to achieve the same level of productivity that they have while sitting.
Do Standing Desks Have Any Benefits?
Standing for eight hours a day might not be the best idea, but that doesn’t mean standing desks do not have their merits. As in most things when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, the key is balance. Rather than enduring aching feet and knees, consider switching back and forth between sitting and standing throughout the day. Try tying specific tasks with sitting or standing to keep both your body and your mind active and alert.
Regardless of whether you use a standing desk or not, regular low-intensity exercise is the key to a healthy body. Walking around the block, going up a flight of stairs, or doing a few squats every half hour or so can help to protect you from the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Whether your desk is designed for sitting or standing, an ergonomic workspace is also a key component if your goal is to reduce musculoskeletal pain and maximize your health.
Building the Right Workspace
Are changes in your workspace the key to resolving chronic back pain? If you are not sure, consider consulting with a chiropractor. An expert in chiropractic care can diagnose the root cause of your discomfort and provide manual adjustments to help correct any imbalances. Your chiropractor will also work with you to help identify lifestyle factors that might cause discomfort, including occupational considerations.
When used in a balanced manner, standing desks can be worthwhile strategy to reduce time spent sitting. Talk to your chiropractor to determine if this option is the right one for you.