UHA Worksite Wellness

Does Your Office Need Standing Desks?

Written by Linda Kalahiki on April 14, 2014. Posted in Activity & Exercise, Post

It’s no secret that sitting too long may be adversely affecting our health. From sitting in your car to sitting at your desk, more Americans are sitting for longer periods of time than ever before – Hawaiians included. Over the last decades, we have seen exercise balls and ergonomic chairs, pendulum rockers and everything in between. So what is the point to these oddly shaped and often-pricey pieces of office furniture?

The Problem With Sitting

The human body just is not meant to be still for hours on end. Excess sitting can contribute to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. It might even hasten mortality. As CNN reports, an American Cancer Society study found that “women who sit for more than six hours a day were about 40% more likely to die during the course of the study than those who sat fewer than three hours per day.” In fact, the medical industry now widely recognizes the symptoms of too much sitting as “sitting disease.”

Unfortunately, a day’s worth of sitting in the office cannot be remedied by an extra half-mile on the treadmill. Exercise, though extremely beneficial to your health, is not a catchall cure when it comes to sitting. So, if you and your colleagues are seated for the majority of the workday, it’s time to consider alternatives.

The Benefits Of Standing

The most obvious substitute to sitting is standing. Standing desks have been around for a while, but the newest ones are both elegant and easy to use; many come with motorized cranks so different people can adjust the desk to their individual preferences.

Standing has been proven to increase focus, to burn more calories, to increase blood flow and possibly to improve posture (if you consciously avoid leaning awkwardly while you work.) It is this increased productivity that employers are particularly interested in: even big names like Google and Facebook are offering standing desks to their employees.

It is quite possible that other negative health side effects may occur as a result of too much standing: more research in the field is desperately needed. But, for the time being, increasing your standing and decreasing your sitting is the healthiest option out there. And don’t forget: Many standing desks raise and lower, so you can spend a portion of your day standing and a portion sitting. All things in moderation.

Get Standing ASAP

Whether you’re ready to order standing desks for the whole office, or just want to explore more cost-effective choices, there are plenty of options that can help make your office a healthier place to work.

If you are not quite ready to commit to a full office makeover, simply encourage employees to stand up during certain tasks, such as phone calls. It may seem silly at first, but the habit will catch on quickly. Another option is to host “standing room only” meetings.

But by far the best way to “test drive” the standing desk phenomenon is to try one of the many Do It Yourself tutorials online – just make sure your project meets the proper height requirements for good posture.

But if DIY is not your forte, you can purchase the Varidesk Pro or another desk attachment that works with the furniture you already have. These easy-to-install add-ons are quite affordable, at about $300.

If your heart is set on standing desks, but your budget is set on frugality, buy a pair and allow employees to use them in rotation; most people cannot stand all day anyway. The UpDesk UpWrite is a fully adjustable workstation that includes a whiteboard surface for brainstorming – good for your bodily health and your creativity.

Linda Kalahiki

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

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