Sunday, April 5, 2015

What Is A Standing Desk, And What Is It Good For?

At its root a standing desk is a desk that is used while standing up, for either workstudy, or leisure. It can be of variable or fixed height, manual or electric, and can look many different ways with countless bells and whistles. By far the most important aspect of any desk however is its ergonomics. Regardless of how good it may look, if it cannot adjust to the needs of its user it will quickly reverse the many benefits of using it and may actually cause pain and discomfort. Good ergonomics start with making sure that the desk is adjusted properly to fit the user's height.

To use a standing desk correctly it should be raised until it is at elbow level, give or take an inch for personal convenience. This will ensure that the neck and shoulders don't have to work extra hard in order to compensate for the difference in heights. Next, if using a computer, it's important to set the monitor at eye level so that the neck can remain in a straight and neutral position the entire time.
 Proper foot support is a must and it starts with wearing comfortable running shoes or using an anti-fatigue mat, or both. Because most office workers wear dress shoes or heels to work, an anti-fatigue mat goes a long way in order to reduce the stress on the joints and to improve stamina. Lastly, because prolonged standing is almost as undesirable, it's important to acquire a desk that is height adjustable. This will allow the user to take sitting breaks when they choose to do so and with only a push of a button or the turn of a crank.
Office workers and other chronic sitters have known for a long time that prolonged sitting is neither pleasant nor healthy, but it wasn't until desk jobs became the status quo in North America and elsewhere that research into their dangers was given a second look. In fact, as early as 1953 British researchers found that (sitting) bus drivers were twice as likely to die of heart attacks as (standing) trolley operators. It is the rise in prolonged sitting among Canadian and American youth and adults that has necessitated the development and popularization of standing desks. 
That is a good thing because according to an Ipsos survey, 3 out of 4 full-time employees of large companies wish they didn't spend most of their working hours sitting, and 67% of them wish their employers offered them desks that could be adjusted so they could work either seated or standing. Can we blame them? Sitting puts added pressure on the back and spine, shuts off the muscles in our legs, reduces blood circulation to our brains, makes us fidget, and eventually puts us to sleep! 
Sit long enough and these inconveniences turn into full-fledged risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and the list keeps growing! On the other hand, limit the time that you sit to only 3 hours spread throughout the day and you will not only feel better, but will also be more alert and productive, healthier, and will almost certainly live a longer and happier life. 

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