Healthy at Work

Standing Desks: Worth the Investment?

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By Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D.

With today’s 24/7 schedules and unrelenting demands, it’s no surprise that Americans are trying to squeeze in activity anywhere they can. Some are even exploring nearly passive ways to work out – particularly since the vast majority of us spend most of our time sitting.

Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular – perhaps for good reason. A review study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology reported that people who stand burn an extra 0.15 calories per minute compared to those who sit. While that may not seem like much, it could translate into losing 5 pounds or more over the course of a year, assuming your daily calorie intake remains steady.

But you don’t have to buy a new desk to reap the benefits of standing. Instead, focus on maximizing time on your feet throughout the day with these ideas.

  1. Stand while you work. Studies show that people who use standing desks move more throughout the day than those who sit. That movement increases the number of calories you burn in a day – but you don’t have to stand at your desk to benefit. Stand up while taking calls. Use a podium when you’re reviewing notes. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending that email. And take every opportunity to visit the water cooler.
  1. Take frequent breaks. Whether you’re sitting or standing, make a commitment to take short active breaks throughout the day – and go for a change in scenery. Visit your co-worker across the hall. Take a stroll to the restroom. You can even take advantage of your workplace’s stairwells.
  1. Watch your alignment. Back and neck problems are typical among people who sit for large chunks of time. Stay on your feet, and you could sidestep issues related to improper alignment. Just be sure to stand tall with your hips lined up over your feet and your neck in line with your shoulders. Also, wear comfortable shoes and get an ergonomic floor pad, if your feet start to hurt. You can even try a deskside yoga workout or engage in stretching exercises at your workstation.

Don’t Just Stand – Walk!
However, using a standing desk isn’t a replacement for exercise. If that’s all you do to stay fit, you’ll still be falling short of physical activity recommendations. Whether you sit or stand on the job, try to:

  • Get 150 minutes of exercise weekly
  • Take steps to stay mobile both at home and at work, as excessive sitting has been linked to chronic health conditions such as diabetes and anxiety
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get sufficient shuteye

You can read more nutrition and fitness advice in our EatWell and MoveWell sections, so subscribe to get all the latest tips.