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If you spend hours sitting at the computer, you’ve probably already heard what to do to make your day a little healthier: Stand up.
“Sitting for long periods of time doesn’t just impact your posture, but studies have shown that the health detriments are close to smoking or obesity,” says Jen Dour, DC, chiropractor and clinic director at Garden State Spinal Care. “Inactivity is now connected to 9 percent of the globe’s premature deaths.” Recent studies have found that those who exercised but spent the bulk of their time sitting in a chair, were more prone to death via cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Do you need a standing desk? Dr. Dour says that those in positions where they can’t leave their desks regularly would benefit the most from one. “In my practice, patients who suffer from radiating pain down either arms or legs find a huge benefit from changing over to a sit-to-stand desk,” she says. So not only does standing up while you work help combat obesity and prevent metabolic problems, it’s especially helpful for when you feel tethered to your desk.
In a 2017 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, experts suggest taking a movement break every 30 minutes to counter the health risks that come with prolonged sedentary behavior.
If you’re ready to make the switch, it’s important to know how to make the transition to a standing desk. Dour suggests that alternating positions throughout the day is key. “If you alternate every 30 to 45 minutes, you’ll see a difference,” she explains. “Most people stuck in one position will begin to slouch because they feel uncomfortable. These positions can put stress on your joints throughout your body, which can cause muscle spasms, discomfort, or pain.”
Ergonomics are also important when you’re standing. “The legs should be hip-width apart with feet pointing forward, elbows should rest comfortably on the top of the desk at a 90-degree angle and the back should be upright with the core engaged,” says Lindsey Maynes, a director at Fit for Life, a health and wellness products company. “Keep the monitor just below eye level with hands at or below elbow level to help keep wrists straight and prevent carpal tunnel or other wrist problems.”
When standing, you should also have an even weight distribution on your feet, says Dour.
Keep in mind, using a standing desk is not the only solution to improve your overall health — but, it’s a start. “Be mindful of the amount of activity you’re performing each week,” reminds Dour.
Standing can help your immune system, weight management, and cardiovascular health, but adults ages 18-64 should aim to perform 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Standing desks have come a long way since they were introduced nearly a decade ago. Today’s options have high-tech bells and whistles, accessories (think balance boards or rugs) and materials that make standing while you work a bit easier. Many also easily convert to a regular desk for those tasks where standing up can be difficult. Others can simply attach to a regular existing desk to add extra height without the fuss (or the cost).
If you think you could benefit from a standing desk, explore our top seven picks.
Best Space-Saving Standing Desk
FlexiSpot M8MB Standing Desk
Work out of a small cubicle or office? This space-saving workstation is for you. The FlexiSpot M8MB Standing Desk rises and folds vertically within its own footprint, so it works great if you’re tight on space. The desk’s gas spring system allows for smooth and safe transitioning from sitting to standing and adjusts to 12 different height levels. It also provides a spacious work surface, perfect if you work with a computer monitor, laptop, and other gadgets. The (also spacious) keyboard tray features a quick-release design so you can easily remove it when you don’t need it.
Best Standing Desk for Cycling
What’s healthier than standing at your desk? Getting in some cycle time while you sit. XDesk’s Velo standing desk aims to make working less sedentary. It’s essentially a stationary bike combined with an adjustable sit-stand desk. The idea is to go from standing to cycling and back again. It also works with an app to save your pedal revolutions (most users pedal about 45 to 60 minutes per day, the company says). Pedal daily (even at light speeds) and you may be able to skip spin class.
Best Sitting and Standing Desk
Autonomous Smart Desk 2
The makers of the Autonomous Smart Desk 2 know that sometimes you just need to sit. The standing desk holds up to 220 pounds and easily adjusts between higher and lower levels so you can start your day sitting, and stand up for that afternoon slump. You can program four custom heights to instantly go from ergonomic sitting height to proper standing height without fiddling.
Best Splurge-Worthy Standing Desk
UpDesk’s Ultra UpWrite Standing Desk
This electric, adjustable standing desk features a curved and writable desktop. You no longer need Post-its to write down those those important notes — just write directly on the desk. The UpDesk UpWrite also features a Smart Desk Controller to easily adjust to predetermined heights or to alternate between sitting and standing. An LED light strip reminds you to change positions, and via Bluetooth technology, you can also get notifications on your desktop or smartphone.
Best Budget-Friendly Stand Up Desk
Mount-It! Mobile Stand Up Desk
Looking to try out a standing desk without investing too much cash? Mount It’s Mobile Stand Up Desk is a rolling computer cart, portable desk, and workstation in one. The four shelf heights store anything from computer monitors to office supplies – and it’s simple to move from room to room. The top two shelves adjust for ergonomic comfort without needing to splurge for a pricier desk.
Best Standing Desk Converter
Fully Copper Standing Desk Converter
The Cooper Standing Desk Converter from Fully lets you use a fixed-height desk you already love. The double X-frame adjusts up and down, so you have ample workspace, while still offering a built-in keyboard platform below the main work surface. The standing desk converter features a hydraulic lift with one-hand operation so you can smoothly and easily glide through nearly 16″ of height adjustment.