Since many companies have moved to a remote or hybrid model for their employees, more and more folks are interested in trying out a standing desk.
A stand-up desk promises better health and to rid users of things like back and hip pain. But are standing desks actually helpful?
Check out these statistics and insights to see if a standing desk is just a fad or something that'll be around for a while.
Need an expert quote for your story? We’re happy to help. Contact our Editor & Founder, Geoff Cudd.
Standing Desk Key Statistics & Facts
- Office workers typically spend 73% of their workday and 66% of their waking day sitting.
- Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since 1950 according to the American Heart Association.
- 80% of today’s jobs are sedentary or involve only light activity.
- 44% of companies provide or subsidize standing desks for their employees (a three-fold increase since 2013 when only 13% of employers offered the benefit.)
- A study conducted by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health showed that people burn about 80 calories per hour while sitting.
- While standing, the same subjects burned around 88 calories per hour.
- A new study of around 8,000 middle-aged and older adults found that swapping a half-hour of sitting around with physical activity of any intensity or duration cut the risk of early death by as much as 35%.
Standing Desks & Maintaining a Healthy Weight
We want to start by saying that if you’re looking to lose some serious weight in a shorter amount of time, a standing desk isn’t going to cut it.
That being said, long-term positive effects on your health as a whole can lead to a healthier weight.
- Walking burns 210 calories per hour, so adding a lunchtime walk can add to burning calories. Consider the WalkingPad A1 Pro [review] for the added health benefits at home.
- A 2015 study at the University of Iowa found that employees with adjustable standing desks stood 60 minutes more a day and walked an additional six minutes a day at work, which means:
- They burned 87 more calories a day than their sitting co-workers.
- Use of a standing desk for three hours burns an extra 24 calories.
- Standing and moving in front of a standing desk can trigger increased metabolism, positive hormonal changes, decreased blood sugar, and more, leading to weight loss.
- In more recent studies, sit-stand desks do not have a direct effect on weight loss.
Other Health Statistics
Aside from body weight, standing desks can have a positive impact on your overall health. This is because sitting for extended periods of time can lead to some shocking negative health impacts, up to and including death.
Here are the numbers to back this claim up.
- A recent study found that excessive sitting may be responsible for over 430,000 deaths.
- According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, sitting too much corresponds to a 10-20% increased risk of premature death and chronic disease.
- Breaking up a day of sitting with any kind of physical activity reduces the risk of early death, according to a study of 8,000 adults done by Keith Diaz Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University.
- During a study, participants' total fatigue score was significantly higher while sitting compared to those sitting and standing.
- Studies show excessive sitting may increase the risk of certain cancers by as much as 66%.
- A recent study conducted by the American Heart Association showed a 1-hour reduction in sedentary time could reduce CVD risk by 12% for women who are typically sedentary for 8 hours per day.
- According to a study done by England's University of Leicester, people who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease than those who sat the least.
- Prolonged sitting was also linked to a greater risk of death from all causes, but the strongest link was to diabetes.
- The same research team recently reported that sitting for long periods appears to raise the risk for kidney disease, especially in women.
Standing Desks & Back Pain
One of the most popular reasons that people make the switch to a standing desk is the promise of reducing back pain.
Sitting all day, especially if you have a poor seated posture, puts a lot of pressure on your hips and lower back. This leads to pretty bad back pain that plagues many folks who work desk jobs.
Here’s how a standing desk could help lessen your back pain.
- A standing desk can help improve your posture and take the pressure off your neck and lower back.
- A 45-degree bend in your neck can result in up to 50 pounds of gravitational force being placed on your neck muscles.
- A study found that using a standing desk reduced upper back and neck pain by 54%.
- Another study found that lower back musculoskeletal discomfort was significantly reduced during the stand-sit condition compared with the sit condition by 31.8%
- Standing and moving more throughout the day (with the help of a standing desk) allows the body has to keep all muscles of the core engaged, which helps to rebalance those muscles back to their normal state.
- Standing allows muscles and tissues elongate and regain their natural flexibility, allowing spines to reform their normal posture, leading to less back pain.
The Impact of Standing on Mood
Aside from physical health benefits, standing desks have a surprising effect on raising mood.
These numbers show that a standing desk could alleviate some of the anxiety and feelings of depression many workers face at their desk jobs.
- Too much time sitting still is linked to an increased risk of depressive symptoms in adolescents.
- In a recent study, researchers found that those who utilised standing desks experienced improved moods, often feeling more energised, positive, and happier. This is likely due to the improved blood flow and oxygenation caused by standing, which has been shown to improve mood.
- Many people who had low-grade anxiety before the pandemic began experiencing full-blown, difficult-to-manage anxiety symptoms when sitting at a desk, looking at a computer all day.
- A study reported by Psychological Science in 2017 showed that mental processing time for a psychological test was slightly faster in a group of standing study participants versus the group of sitting participants.
- However, other recent studies have shown little to no improvement in cognitive function between sitting and standing.
- In one study, participants reported less stress and fatigue while using a standing desk for 1-2 hours per day.
- In one study, 87% of those using standing desks reported increased vigor and energy throughout the day.
Impact on Productivity at Work
Though there are some serious possible positive impacts that standing desks could offer your health, the bottom line of productivity is also important to take into account.
Does a standing desk help you get more done during your workday? Let’s find out.
- In a study of call center employees, those with standing desks were 45% more productive than employees who sat during their shift.
- A six-month study conducted by Texas A&M University's Health Science Center School of Public Health showed that using a standing desk increased productivity by 23% over the course of the first month and increased by 53% over the last the six months.
- 71% of employees in a study who reduced their sitting time by just one hour a day reported improved mental focus throughout the day.
- In a study of 60 young office employees, using a standing desk for 4 hours each day had no impact on characters typed per minute or typing errors.
- A study, funded by the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation’s (ASIDF) Transform Grant, 65% of participants who used a standing desk reported increased productivity.
- Results of another study showed that students that continually used standing desks showed significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities.
Possible Negative Effects of Standing Desks
Although some observed positive effects can come from standing instead of sitting all day at work, there are some questions surrounding the viability and legitimacy of these claims.
There are even a few drawbacks to using a standing desk for too long.
- One study showed that after working on computers at standing desks for two hours, study participants reported “discomfort,” “muscle fatigue,” and “lower limb swelling.”
- Participants' reaction times and mental states “deteriorated” over the course of the experiment, although the standing desks did reportedly improve creative problem-solving.
- Standing for too long can result in varicose veins, blood pooling in the legs and feet, and swollen and painful feet.
- While standing results in more calories being burnt, it won’t help you shed extra pounds quickly.
- According to multiple studies, prolonged standing should be undertaken with caution.
- According to multiple studies, prolonged standing should be undertaken with caution.
How to Make the Most of Standing Desks
Ultimately, a sit-stand adjustable desk seems to be your best option if you work in an office-type setting that typically requires sitting all day.
Alternating between sitting and standing minimizes the negative impacts of both while maximizing the positives.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate other healthy choices like walking for a few minutes each hour and taking regular stretch breaks to help counteract the negative health effects that office jobs can have on your body.
Want to explore your options for getting a standing desk? Consider reading some of our standing desk reviews:
- FlexiSpot E7 Standing Desk – read our review
- Flexispot EN1 Standing Desk – read our review
- Vari Electric Standing Desk – read our review
- Autonomous SmartDesk – read our review
- Cemtrex SmartDesk – read our review