St George & Sutherland Shire Leader

14 benefits you didn't know about standing desks

Beneifts of using a standing desk include helping to encourage healthier behaviour and lifestyle due to the additional movement in your body. Picture UpDown.
Beneifts of using a standing desk include helping to encourage healthier behaviour and lifestyle due to the additional movement in your body. Picture UpDown.

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For most Australians, the obvious benefits of a standing desk include an improved posture. But as Daniel Parkinson from Best Standing Desks discovers, it's a little more than that.

Key takeaways:

  • Research suggests that the short-term health benefits of using a sit-stand desk include an increased self-awareness of posture, reduced body discomfort (e.g., reduced back and neck pain) from extra movement, and increased energy.
  • Standing desks have been shown to boost productivity which may make for more effective communication and teamwork, especially in open office environments.
  • Using an adjustable standing desk encourages you to shift your posture throughout the day, increasing alertness and reducing fatigue. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can fatigue you and reduce your attentiveness.
  • The long-term benefits are not well understood and more research is required.

The problem of prolonged sitting

If you work a 9 to 5 job then you already know sitting for too long will result in aches and pains. Generally considered as sitting down for more than eight hours a day, prolonged sitting is known to be a major factor that contributes to a sedentary lifestyle.

In turn, it is fairly well established that a lifestyle of physical inactivity can lead to chronic health issues such as heart disease, depression, and musculoskeletal problems. In fact, a National Health Survey found that 49 per cent of Australians between the ages of 18 and 64 described their day as mostly sitting.

Following a strenuous workweek, office employees may find themselves too exhausted to even engage in physical exercise, let alone stay productive. If you'd like to prevent this in your workplace, standing desks may be the ideal solution with several good quality standing desks in the market today.

Standing desks promote better behaviours

Using a standing desk helps to encourage healthier behaviour and lifestyle due to the additional movement in your body. This is what a recent review of 53 scientific studies found. Participants of the study were assessed in six categories, including behaviour, psychological health, work performance, physiological discomfort, and posture.

Of the health-related categories, reduced discomfort through alternating intervals of sitting and standing saw the most improvements but little gains were seen in other physiological aspects. Standing desk users saw a minor improvement in their productivity.

The benefits of standing desks also extend to increased communication and collaboration between people, especially in the office workplace. In fact, improved engagement is one of the reasons why more and more workplaces are trying to enhance their cultures by turning to height-adjustable desks.

As long as you are actually using your sit-stand desk to its fullest, positive behavioural changes can occur. This is not solely due to being in a standing position, but also by the movement that is incurred by switching positions.

The short-term health benefits are clear

Whilst the jury is still out regarding the long-term benefits of height-adjustable desks, the short-term advantages are better understood. Standing desks provide immediate positive effects on your psychological behaviours and well-being by introducing more body movement into your working day.

Let's take a look at the benefits of standing desks that can be had.

1 Improved posture through self-awareness

Having a standing desk can also help improve your overall posture by making you more aware of it. It's easy to forget to keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed when sitting you might be slouching even though it doesn't feel like you are. However, most people find it easier to stand up straighter when standing rather than sitting down. You are less likely to slouch or hunch over and this goes a long to improving your overall posture.

The differences you feel in your body will slowly make you realise that your posture isn't at all what it's supposed to be, and this is the starting point to prompt positive change. As long as you don't stand for too long at your standing desk which can cause leg aches.

2 Reduced body discomfort

Depending on your posture, excessive sitting (and standing) will eventually result in discomfort in your glutes, hips, lower and upper back, and towards the shoulders and neck.

By investing in a standing desk, you can create an almost instantaneous positive impact on your body due to the increased movement. Standing utilises more muscles than sitting so your legs and core are engaged more frequently.

However, the act of intermittent standing is not the only way to reduce discomfort. Rather, it's the movement you create whilst standing or switching between sitting and standing that does the trick. Movement promotes blood flow through the body's major muscle groups and engaging your muscles more helps to strengthen them.

Credit: Shutterstock.

For example, prolonged sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten which can lead to hip flexibility issues. This can be exacerbated if your posture is not optimal, but regularly utilising those muscles will prevent this.

Overall, the more movement and body engagement you have, the better short-term relief you will experience. If you want a challenge then you can buy an exercise ball or balance board, introduce a stretching routine, and alarm reminders to stay active at your stand desk and have fun at the same time.

3 Increased energy & reduced fatigue

If you work in an office environment and spend your day mostly sitting then you may complain of feeling tired or lacking energy by the end of the day - and you wouldn't be alone.

Take it from me, standing for short periods of time at a height-adjustable desk can help to reduce these problems and give you the feeling of being 'more alive'. This effect is primarily due to the increase in oxygenated blood circulation to the brain and other parts of the body.

On top of this, sitting helps to reduce muscle tension in the lower back, neck, and shoulders which can lead to fatigue. When you stand for intermittent periods during the day, you are engaging the muscles in your legs and core which helps to reduce that muscle tension.

4 Collaboration & communication

Standing desks have been shown to boost productivity which may make for more effective communication and teamwork. Employees may have more time to work on group projects and interact with coworkers if they are able to finish jobs more quickly and efficiently. But standing desks also help to break down communication barriers that may exist in your workplace.

5 Improved focus, concentration & productivity

Standing desks have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their potential to improve the focus, concentration, and productivity of workers. This is based on several studies that have shown positive effects and more and more workplaces are introducing standing desks (or good desk converters) to foster a better working culture.

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that standing desks increased productivity by an average of 10-15 per cent. It was no surprise that the higher levels of energy translated into better mental clarity which resulted in improved productivity.

The same was found in a Japanese study where standing desk users exhibited a reduced sedentary lifestyle and were more engaged and productive than the control group who used traditional desks.

Generally speaking, using a standing desk and the regular changing of working or gaming positions helps to keep you active for longer, and this can only mean good things. Of course, this will be subjective for each individual.

6 Burn more calories (just a bit)

Standing engages the core muscles to maintain balance and posture requires more energy expenditure. Your heart rate may also be slightly higher when standing than sitting as the body has to work harder to pump blood around the body.

But if you're hoping that a stand desk will help you lose kilograms of weight then you would be mistaken. Although standing desks are widely documented to help you burn up to 50 per cent more calories compared to sitting, the effects are almost negligible in the context of an exercise regime and should not replace active exercise.

7 Improved vascular function

Although considered to be a minor benefit, improved blood circulation is a direct result of increased body movement. When we sit for extended periods, our blood circulation can become sluggish and this is also partly why you might feel tired.

However, remembering to intermittently stand for short periods throughout the day has been known to promote healthy circulation. This effect has been shown in multiple studies where improvements were seen in the vascular function in the lower body extremities (e.g., hands and feet) as well as other indicators of vascular health.

8 Decreased stress levels & improved mental wellbeing

Sitting in the same spot for extended periods of time can cause fatigue and decrease alertness but using an adjustable standing desk encourages you to change your position throughout the day, increasing alertness and decreasing fatigue.

Sit-stand desks also offer psychological benefits. Studies of primary school children found that standing can improve mood and decrease stress by enhancing feelings of well-being and belonging. The same can be said for office environments and this is one of the reasons why more workplaces are adopting sit-stand desks. This is likely due to the increased levels of physical activity associated with standing, which can release endorphins and other 'feel good' hormones.

These psychological and physical benefits of a standing desk can help you feel calmer and more productive, ensuring that you are better able to handle the stresses of everyday life. Your well-being will thank you for it.

The potential long-term benefits of a standing desk

Whilst the bulk of studies have established a sound understanding of the short-term health benefits of using a standing desk, not a lot of research has been conducted to investigate the long-term effects whether they be positive or negative.

Even while these advantages appear encouraging, further studies are required to completely comprehend the long-term advantages of using a standing desk.

9 Limiting weight gain and obesity

Regularly standing up at a sit-stand desk can help you burn more calories but not by much. According to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, spending six hours a day standing up could eventually aid in weight loss. According to another study, standing for three hours a day, five days a week, 365 days a year could result in an additional 30,000 calories burned but whether or not this is feasible is another thing.

10 Reduced blood sugar levels

In comparison to sitting for the same period of time after a meal, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that standing for three hours reduced blood sugar levels by up to 43%. It suggested that the proper use of a standing desk, particularly after meals, may help reduce blood sugar levels.

11 Relief from chronic back pain

Standing desks provide relief from discomfort in the short-term but they also can assist in reducing chronic back discomfort brought on by extended sitting. According to research in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, standing at a desk for four weeks significantly decreased lower back discomfort.

12 Improved well-being

Utilising a standing desk can result in reduced stress and exhaustion as well as more vigour and vitality throughout the day. A study of 74 Japanese office workers identified that standing at a desk instead of sitting increases energy levels while reducing stress and weariness.

13 Increased activity

Standing workstations can boost productivity and activity levels. According to a study of 23 participants, metabolic rates were higher in the 15 minutes following standing up versus sitting down. The study also suggested that height-adjustable desks can limit weight gain but is not enough to reverse obesity.

14 Movement in the corporate environment

Introducing standing desks can be part of a broader workplace culture that encourages movement and physical activity. Employers can implement initiatives like walking meetings, stretching breaks, or fitness challenges to complement the use of standing desks.

Moreover, workplaces may be seen as more progressive and flexible environments, helping them stand out as desirable places to convene.

Incorporating a sit-stand desk into the workplace can be an important step toward creating a healthier and more active work environment, benefiting both employees and employers in the long run.


Back and neck pain, bad posture, and sedentary lifestyles are some of the health problems commonly associated with prolonged sitting time. However, the health benefits from the use of stand-up desks are well established and are known to be a positive influence on overall well-being rather than bad for you.

Despite the lack of understanding regarding the long-term advantages, it's highly plausible that there are in fact benefits to be had if the short-term positives are already known. For a relatively small money investment, you too can kickstart a new outlook on your working life.

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