Why sit when you can take a stand?

Turns out, sitting is the new smoking[1], so getting out of your chair while working at your desk is not only beneficial, it’s vital.

We all know that sedentary based work is now considered a high-risk activity. And while it may seem like a far-fetched concept, the facts and figures speak for themselves. From musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes[2], as well as poor mental health and wellbeing, our sedentary lifestyles are being blamed for a lot of health issues. These problems appear to be a result of increased static postures, lack of postural variation, low energy expenditure and decreased movement.[3]

Deemed the future’s way of working, sit to stand workstations allow you to work at your ‘desk job’ while standing or moving between a sitting and standing position instead of solely being tied to your desk chair. Sit to stand workstations have grown in popularity in recent years as more affordable options have become available in the marketplace.

If you or your workforce are required to perform desk-based tasks for the majority of your time at work then sit to stand workstations are a positive way to introduce dynamic movement into your workday, to keep employees comfortable, healthy and productive at work.

Ergonomic at work: benefits of sit to stand workstations

1. Moving between a sitting and standing lowers your risk of injuries and illness: Over the years, a rise in sedentary work has led to a reduction in physical activity and therefore an increase in illnesses such as heart disease and obesity with prolonged periods of sitting been seen as one of the major contributing factors. Although there is no direct link between a reduction in illness and mortality rates and sit to stand workstations, sit to stand workstations are a great way to encourage dynamic movements in the workplace and reduce the negative impacts of sedentary work.

2. Standing desks may reduce back and neck pain: It’s no coincidence that back, neck and shoulder pain are the most common complaints of a workforce that sits down all day. These health issues are commonly related to prolonged static postures or incorrect postures while working at a desk, so it makes sense to stand instead of sit. You can find your ideal standing height by completing ergonomic assessments to ensure your shoulders aren’t slouched, your neck isn’t craned, and your upper back doesn’t have too much pressure resting on it.

3. Standing desks improve mood and energy levels: Being sedentary for extended periods of time can increase your risk of both depression and anxiety.[4] Just like a short ten-minute walk around the block during your lunch break can help you clear your mind, standing at work can generate enduring vigour and energy in your day. Being more alert at work means you’ll also be more productive.

Take a stand against sitting

While standing certainly has its benefits, it is not beneficial to completely do away with chairs – research suggests that sit to stand desks have their greatest effect when individuals rotate between sitting and standing postures throughout the day. It is recommended that standing for only short periods of time (8-10 minutes) will produce optimum results and minimise the risk of standing fatigue and discomfort. It’s also a good idea to use a mat to relieve pressure on your joints while standing.

Just like a seated workstation, a standing desk must follow correct ergonomic conventions to be successful. It is important to adjust your desk height and set up your computer screen properly so you’re not straining to use it while standing.  Finally, research suggests that sit to stand workstations have their greatest impact when you rotate from sitting to stand to stretching and then back to sitting, so make sure that you stretch regularly or take regular walks throughout the day – it can be as simple as walking over to a colleague instead of sending that email, or offering to do the coffee run for the day.

Considering purchasing sit to stand workstation?

Before you rush out and purchase every employee in your workplace or team a new workstation, which will come with a hefty price tag, consider how the new workstations will be introduced into the workplace. Research suggests that sit to stand workstations are only successful if people know how to use them correctly, so mass rollout might not be the solution. Consider a staggering rollout and including education and training around correct ergonomic set up and ergonomic practices before introducing the new workstations.

Ergonomic assessment and training

Healthy workstations are just one of the ways to guarantee happier staff and reduce employee injuries, in particular musculoskeletal injuries, stress or fatigue. If you are an employer who is interested in improving the health and wellbeing of your organisation, you should consider investing in a review of your workplace’s ergonomic practices and the desk set up of your employees.

The first step to creating a positive workforce is to invest in an ergonomic assessment of your workplace. Bodycare specialises in a number of ergonomic assessment and training solutions for all types of sitting, standing and vehicle-based roles.  Click here to find out more about Bodycare’s ergonomic services or contact us on 03 8637 7185.


[1] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting

[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sitting-disease/bgp-20056238

[3] http://www.ergonomics-info.com/musculoskeletal-disorders.html

[4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk#section6