What Can I Do To Effectively Use Standing Desks At Work?
Standing desks when used correctly can help make up a part of the solution towards better health in the modern world for many white collar office workers. Standing desks alone are clearly not the solution, however their appropriate use on top of living a balanced life, making sure that at a minimum each day is made up of some regular, low-intensity physical activity such as walking can help set you on your way to living a long and healthy life. It’s not just about how much you sit or stand in a day, but also the amount of movement and physical activity your body gets in a day. Where being more consistently active is far better for you than being completely sedentary with short bouts of exercise a few times a week. The example of this is the office worker who sits 12 hours a day at the office computer, eats lunch at their desk, commutes by bus an hour each way and then spends the evenings on the sofa only to head to the gym three times a week to smash out some weights or a spin class. Clearly this is better they are at least doing some exercise but those extended hours day after day, year after year may literally be deadly. It is generally considered that it would be far better for their health if that individual could work in ways to move more at the office, somehow turn their commute into activity, go for a walk on their lunch break and squeeze in a couple of light walks or some other activity in the evenings after work… Generally speaking activity and exercise comes down more towards it being a priority than available time as study’s have shown that regardless of employment type, available finances etc activity levels in people are similar so it is more about how being active is valued by the individual than that individual perceiving that they have or don’t have the time to be active…
With this in mind below are a few tips for someone looking to increasing their general activity levels in their work day and ideas around making the use of standing desks more palatable:
- Wear comfortable shoes. Have a pair of trainers at work that you can put on when initially training yourself to start using a standing desk. Having a supportive pair of trainers on hand will prolong your ability to remain standing comfortably, support your feet and likely to reduce some of the stress on your lower limb joints and soft tissues.
- Consider using a gel (or anti-fatigue) mat. Using such a standing mat just like wearing a good pair of shoes as mentioned above can help support your feet and lessens pressure on the rest of your body. Also that little bit of gel in these mats can mean a tad more variation in foot posture and movement when standing which is good to help avoid overloading set areas of the foot with long periods of standing.
- “Correct” your standing posture (and while you are at it, your sitting posture too). It’s not just about how long you stand, but it is also important how you stand. Just as it’s easy despite good intentions to use a fit ball to sit on at work (something that is often associated with being a good postural decision) and sit on it poorly, ultimately negating some of benefits of using the ball as a seat, this same is also true for standing. It is very easy to stand poorly, and potentially reduce the postural and musculoskeletal systems benefit of standing over sitting by doing so. Aim to keep relatively balance and keep “good” alignment when using standing desks for best effect if you are unsure what “good” alignment for you may be then you could always consider seeing your physio for some tips around standing.
- Aim to perform some basic movement exercises regularly throughout the day. There is no doubt you may look like a bit of a goose doing air squats and calf raises regularly throughout the day at your work station, but hey whoever said there’s anything wrong with being a bit different (oh wait a second…). Air squats fall into that regular low intensity exercise category which is great for your overall health and is good way to break down fats in your body and improve the circulation in your legs. Calf raises are also a great way to help the circulation in your legs and get the muscle pump action going when in situations of prolonged standing.
- Look to start holding walking meetings at work if you actually have face to face meetings, otherwise consider if you can do your “Zoom” meetings on the move, even if everyone else isn’t. Try and integrate the culture of having walking meetings at your office. Walking meetings are becoming more and more popular in modern workplace environments (at least pre-covid they were) and if they aren’t already common place in your office then suggest it. They may just save your life, OK, that’s a bit over the top but used for short daily briefing meetings they are at least a really simple positive step forward for your health.
- Talk to your colleagues face to face. Start doing things the old fashioned way again, If you are in the office how about getting up out of your seat and going to talk to your colleagues, rather than sending them an email, text, internal messaging, or calling them when you need to talk with them… Simple things like this are all easy ways to break up those sedentary habits that have been proven to be a killer.
- As far as incorporating more incidental exercise into your day simple actions like taking the stairs rather than riding the lift or escalator, getting of the bus or train one stop before work or home and walking the remainder don’t take much additional time but manage to raise your activity levels and break up that sedentary cycle a little more.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Using Standing Desks At Work should consult his or her general practitioner or physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.