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It’s well known that sitting for hours on end, day after day, can take a serious toll on overall health and wellbeing. This can be a frustrating reality for many professionals with full-time desk jobs. That is why, a company that focuses on conducting unbiased reviews on products, wanted to investigate the adjustable standing desk – a step in the right direction. They recently spent six weeks researching and testing 67 adjustable standing desks to create an in-depth guide for people searching for the perfect option. Here is some helpful information from their research…

Standing all day isn’t necessarily better than sitting.

Office culture is subject to fads, just like any other culture. Take open-plan offices, the gamification of the workplace, and, of course, standing desks. They’ve taken offices by storm since 2013, likely in response to the influx of fear-mongering infographics, TEDx talks, and articles predicting every office worker’s impending doom: “sitting is the new smoking,” “sitting is the new cancer,” and “sitting will kill you even if you exercise.” Countless sources warned that too much sitting causes increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, premature death, and — according to Dr. Joan Vernikos, an expert in stress and healthy aging, and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals — reduced cognitive function. It’s no wonder people never wanted to sit again. “I’ll invest in a standing desk,” they thought, and figured they were safe — or hoped they’d at least hold on to the years of their lives sitting seemed set on stealing.

Of course the opposition soon kicked in, citing the dangers of standing all day: varicose veins, back and foot problems, and horror of all horrors: cankles. We spoke with Dr. Lucas Carr, an expert in physical activity promotion and sedentary behaviors, who summed it up like this: “The research shows prolonged bouts of sitting and standing can result in negative health consequences. But I don’t think we should demonize [either] based on this research.” All the experts we spoke to recommended movement, a combination of sitting and standing throughout the day. Dr. Carr goes on to say that “a sit-to-stand desk is a solution for those who will use them.”

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use a standing desk.

Ergonomics are key. The top of your monitor should be at or just below eye level (make sure your head isn’t angled down!), and your eyes should be 20 to 28 inches from the screen. Keep your upper arms close to your body, your wrists straight, and your hands at or below wrist level. The table height of a standing desk should be at or slightly below elbow height — basically make a 90-degree angle with your elbow. Your head, neck, and torso should be in line, and your keyboard and mouse should be at the same level. Got that? If not, here’s a graphic that sums it all up, courtesy of CustomMade.

standing desk ergonomics

The Bottom Line

It’s worth investing in a standing desk you love — and one that you’ll use. Usability matters as much as looks, which means that gorgeous bamboo top is only going to make you happy if the frame won’t wiggle and the motor is quiet.

Take Action

Test the theory. To see if you like standing while you work, use your kitchen counter, your washing machine, or any other surface that’s ergonomically correct for your body. Chances are, you may even have a friend who uses a standing desk; see if you can use it for a couple hours before shelling out a few hundred to invest in your own.

Remember to move. There are downsides to sitting too long, and also to standing too long. Purchasing a standing desk won’t solve these problems, unless you remember to change your posture. In Carr’s words, “Our bodies were designed to move periodically throughout the day. I advise people to stand up, stretch, and take a short walk (if possible) if you feel you’ve been sitting for too long.” Vernikos agrees: “It’s the interrupting of the sitting that’s the most important factor, rather than how long you stand.”