It’s only logical that a deskbound lifestyle has a negative impact on your overall health. Historically, as an active hunter-gatherer species who evolved to conduct daily hard labor, humans were not designed to sit for 40 hours a week. A multitude of studies suggest sitting at a desk for extended periods can increase the risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke by as much as 150%. This is particularly concerning as in the last 70 years, the number of people in sedentary office jobs has increased by over 80%. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are innovative office furniture solutions that claim to help combat some of these ailments so whether you are working from home, or a more traditional setting so let’s investigate which is the best way to prevent these conditions: an ergonomic office chair or a standing desk.
The Oxford English Dictionary characterizes the word ergonomic as a description for something that is “designed to make people’s working environment more comfortable and to help them work efficiently”. Ergonomic office chairs are a common and simple way to correct a person’s posture while they work. Compared to an average office chair, ergonomic chairs are reinforced with an S shaped back rest to support the spine, equipped with fully adjustable armrests for correct wrist alignment, cushioning around the head rest to mitigate upper back and neck ache and bucket seats for additional comfort. Ergonomic office chairs are overall built for increased comfort which should relieve pressure in the lower back.
If bulky padded seats aren’t to your taste, an alternative is a stand up desk. It does exactly what it says on the tin – an adjustable desk that’s height can be altered to allow the user to sit or stand whilst working. Standing as opposed to sitting can work to mitigate many of the health problems commonly associated with sedentary desk jobs. A seated position is often sought after as a form of respite as standing exerts more energy therefore it’s no surprise that standing can burn approximately 47 more calories per minute. Standing for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week over the course of a year can burn up to 24,440 calories a year equating to almost 7 pounds of body fat! Obesity is linked to numerous other comorbidities such as cancer, strokes and excessive wearing and tearing of joints resulting in immobility, all of which are becoming ever present in our modern-day society. Carrying less fat on the body is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes as well as lower blood pressure and other cardio-vascular illnesses. Anyone struggling to maintain or lose weight may want to consider a standing desk. Sitting down to combat the post-lunch food coma can contribute to a dramatic spike in blood sugar which can be diminished by standing for half an hour after eating.
Standing desks seem to have an uplifting effect on users aside from their physical benefits. Research in this area suggests a reduction in stress and fatigue even reporting increased energy levels so it appears that standing through your 9-5 can optimize your performance. This in turn drives up efficiency, morale and productivity. The research in this area correlates with similar research in the field linking sedentary behavior and depression. Lastly, users are more inclined to correct bad posture, straighten their backs and stretch more frequently whilst in a standing position.
It’s clear that ergonomic chairs and standing desks work towards a similar goal but is one more effective than the other. Ergonomic chairs align and support the users’ body in a way that prevents long term damage and gives added comfort and lumber support whereas standing desks; relieve back and hip pain, reduce risk of heart problems, aid in weight loss and improve mood and productivity. Standing desks can also be positioned to sit at eye level to reduce neck craning when not in a standing position giving it great benefits in its sitting and standing position. The most effective way of diminishing the negative impact of deskbound work would likely be using the two in conjunction with one another. They run at a similar price point – of course, like any product there is a large range within which you can shop for an ergonomic chair or a standing desk. Nevertheless, when put head to head with one another based simply on their ability to assuage the health concerns associated with office work, the clear winner is the standing desk.