Ask the Ergonomist: Standing Desk vs. Regular: What's Better for My Health?

standing desk vs regular

Standing desk vs. regular: Your standing desk needs to support healthful sitting postures, too.

The popularity of sit-to-stand desks has skyrocketed as the solution to solve ergonomic desking problems —and for good reason.

Unlike regular desks, sit-to-stand desks are touted by ergonomic experts, and have been for well over a decade now to solve our aches and pains . However, more and more studies show that standing desks alone can’t fix or prevent common back and neck pain caused by working at a desk.

Below, we outline the science behind both sitting and standing, and the best option for continued healthfulness while working during the day.

The Science of Standing

When Dr. James Levine published his research, it started a revolution that led to standing desks.

Proponents of standing desks claim the desks reduce obesity, burn calories, and help those with back problems. They also declare that sitting is the new smoking.

Conversely, there are many articles about standing desks that are far less complimentary. For example, Dr. David Rempel, a professor of medicine at the University of California - San Francisco stated that:

“well-meaning professionals are pushing standing desks as a way to burn calories and as a way to improve cardiovascular health, but there is no scientific evidence to support this recommendation.”

While standing at work can help decrease discomfort, standing too long during the workday can have negative health impacts, such as foot and leg pain, and long term vascular issues. In fact, one 2018 study showed that using a standing desk for up to 2 hours can cause fatigue and muscle aches.

While the truth may lie somewhere in the middle, the fact remains that even active standing desk users still sit for 70% or more time during the day, and most often in a static upright and/or forward slumping posture.

The Science of Sitting

Studies have consistently shown that the more sedentary time a person has, the more at risk they are for health issues, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Stroke

However, we all know that we prefer to sit while working at our desks more often than not. And when sitting, the most healthful posture to assume while working is reclinining while sitting.

While this seems like a pipe dream, research has shown for quite some time that reclining and postures and continuous movement pumps nutrients into the intervertebral discs and reduces the load on the lumbar spine and paraspinal musculature through the transfer of upper body weight to the chair. This is significant, as this reduces forces on the lower back by as much as 20 percent.

So, if standing or sitting alone isn’t the answer, then what is? And what desk should you buy, a regular or standing desk?

The key is to find moderation between both healthful sitting and standing postures. However, this can’t be done with your ordinary or standing desk alone.

Standing Desk vs. Regular: Get a Desk That Supports Both Healthy Sitting and Standing Postures

“Not a day goes by where I'm not asked about whether someone needs a sit-to-stand desk. They've become very popular recently, and I think they're great for some people. However, not necessarily for everyone. What I do find, is when I return to an office setting a year later, very often folks who have been provided with a sit/stand desk are no longer using the standing feature and spend their time sitting in static upright or forward slumping postures.” - Marc A. Turina, MPT, CPE

While standing in moderation is great (and healthy), active standing desk users still end up sitting for 70% of the time. So, why not sit comfortably and ergonomically?

Our Sit-to-Stand base model promotes healthful sitting and standing postures, with its patent pending, adjustable sliding work-surface. Designed by former Herman Miller ergonomic seating director, NEXposture is designed to sync your desktop with your ergonomic chair to combat the neck and back pain caused by all-too-common computer slumping postures and lack of movement.

Learn more about how NEXposture is revolutionizing the desk and chair relationship and take 15% off your first order + free shipping with promo code NEXPOSTURE15! We also offer a complimentary ergonomic consultation with every purchase, and a free 30-day return policy.