Many people are advocating switching from sitting all day to a standing desk, and you can get some significant benefits when you do. These include elimination of back and joint pain, greater energy and even weight loss. But many people don’t handle the switch to a stand-up computer desk correctly and experience problems.
Some also make the switch for the wrong reasons, so they never get the results they’re expecting.
Here are five mistakes you shouldn’t make when switching to a standing desk:
1. Standing for the whole day. Standing up all day is just as bad for your body as sitting all day and comes with its own array of health problems and risk factors. Standing compresses the spine, increases the risk of varicose veins and more. The idea is to put some variety into your day by changing your working position from time to time. Variety is almost always the healthiest approach.
2. Staying too still. We often blame our chairs for the many health problems associated with sedentary behavior, but we’re partly to blame ourselves. No matter whether you use a standing desk or a sitting one, you need to move around. One way to add movement to a standing desk setup is to add a footrest to help you by allowing you to shift weight from one foot to the other every few minutes. Even fidgeting helps keep your body active, awake and feeling great.
3. Using it for the wrong tasks. Our brains do some things better sitting down than others. When you’re focused and working well, don’t change positions until you get to a good stopping point. Changing positions breaks concentration, and it can take up to 25 minutes to get it back. Since there are great office chairs available now, do tedious tasks sitting down and save standing for answering emails, typing and other mindless tasks. Or simply do what your body tells you. You’ll find some tasks are easier to do sitting, and your body will tell you when it’s time to change positions.
4. Thinking that it’s an exercise program. While you can burn some calories using a stand-up computer desk, it’s not enough calories for weight loss to be a primary reason to stand up at work. You can burn more calories with a walk at lunch or some stretches at break time. Plus, a 20-minute walk at lunch is also invigorating and can give you as much benefit as standing at work for several hours.
5. Spending too much. For long-term use, the best choice is an adjustable standing desk. While these aren’t cheap, you shouldn’t overpay either. But you can try standing at work with very little equipment. Test it out by putting some tasks on a box to raise them up to standing height. You may find you don’t like working at a standing desk or that standing to work hurts your feet or knees. Give it more than one try, but don’t shell out for a stand-up computer desk until you’re sure it’s what you want.
When you take a realistic approach to a standing desk and try standing up for part of your workday, you can get real benefits from this simple change. But don’t be fooled into thinking that a standing desk can solve all your work-related pain and fatigue issues.
Still, when used correctly and as part of a complete program, a stand-up desk can indeed make a real difference.