Following on from my previous blog post about how to sit correctly at a desk, I thought I would explore the phenomenon that is, 'standing desks.' Over the last few years there has been an increased usage of standing desks or desks that can be raised to a standing position. Sitting still for more than 20 minutes (see blog 6th March) can be detrimental to health. You are at risk even if you exercise regularly. Recent research has suggested links between excessive sitting time and a host of chronic conditions, including diabetes (1), heart disease (2) and colon cancer (3).
However, standing at your desk all day can also carry risks. Standing for long periods contributes to muscular-skeletal problems such as leg cramps, back-ache and lower limb vascular problems such as varicosities.
So what is the best solution? A desk that you can both sit at and stand at? The price for an adjustable sit/stand desk is between £250 - £700. This would make the upgrade to your current workstation an expensive exercise. Also, in reality who has time to adjust a desk every 20 minutes?
My suggestion would be to have a desk that you stand at and sit at without the faf of having to alter the desk height. This could be achieved by having the desk set at the desired height for when you are standing and then to have a high chair, such as a bar stool that could be sat on to bring your sitting position up to desk height.
1. Gill, J, Bhopal, R, Douglas, A, Wallia, S, Bhopal, R, Sheikh, A, Forbes, J, McKnight, J, Sattar, N, Murray, G, Lean, M & Wild, S 2011, ‘Sitting time and waist circumference are associated with glycemia in UK South Asians’, Diabetes Care, vol. 34, no. 5, p. 1214.
2. Thorp, A, Healy, G, Owen, N, Salmon, J, Ball, K, Shaw, J, Zimmet, P & Dunstan D 2010, ‘Deleterious associations of sitting time and television viewing time with cardiometric risk biomarkers’, Diabetes Care, vol. 33, no. 2, p. 327.
3. Boyle, T, Fritschi, L, Heyworth, J & Bull, F 2010, ‘Long-term sedentary work and the risk of subsite-specific colorectal cancer’, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 173, no. 10, pp. 1183-1191.