Are Standing Desks Worth It?

Someone working at a standing desk

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“Are standing desks worth it?” It’s a question that’s been on the minds of many, from busy professionals to students seeking a more comfortable workspace. With the surge in remote work and a growing focus on health and productivity, standing desks have become a popular alternative to traditional sitting desks.

But are standing desks really worth the investment? Do they truly provide the health benefits and increased energy that manufacturers claim? Or are they just another trendy office accessory that might soon be forgotten?

In this comprehensive article, we’ll discuss these questions. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether a standing desk is a worthwhile investment for your health, productivity, and overall well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • A standing desk can be worth it for you if you regularly sit for 2 hours or longer at a time. In that case, you should be aware of the risks of prolonged sitting and consider getting yourself an adjustable standing desk.
  • You then might enjoy the benefits of a standing desk, such as less back pain and better cardiovascular health.

Why Do People Use Standing Desks?

Worker spending time at sit-stand desk

In recent years, standing desks have gained popularity as more people become aware of the potential health risks associated with prolonged sitting. But what exactly are the benefits that drive people to make the switch from traditional seated desks to height-adjustable standing desks? Let’s explore the key reasons. For those of you wanting to learn more, they are explained in more detail in this article.

Improved Posture

One of the primary benefits of using a standing desk is the potential for improved posture. When sitting for extended periods, it’s common to slouch or hunch over, putting unnecessary strain on the neck, shoulders, and back. By standing at your desk, you naturally engage your core muscles and maintain a more upright position, reducing the risk of developing poor posture habits.

Less Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain

Closely related to improved posture, many people who use standing desks report experiencing less back, neck, and shoulder pain. Studies have shown that alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day can significantly reduce discomfort in these areas. This is particularly beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain or have jobs that require long hours at a desk.

Improved Circulation and Better Cardiovascular Health

Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to decreased blood flow and circulation, which can contribute to a range of health issues, including an increased risk of heart disease. Standing, on the other hand, encourages better blood flow throughout the body, helping to improve overall cardiovascular health. Additionally, using a standing desk may help lower blood sugar levels, especially after meals.

Better Weight Management

While standing alone won’t lead to significant weight loss, it does burn more calories than sitting. Even though the difference is small, it can add up and contribute to better weight management over time, especially when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Increased Focus and Productivity

Many standing desk users report feeling more energized, focused, and productive when working while standing. This may be due to the improved blood flow and increased oxygen to the brain, as well as the mental shift that comes with changing positions throughout the day. In fact, a study conducted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found that employees using standing desks were 46% more productive than their seated counterparts.

While the benefits of standing desks are numerous, it’s important to note that they may not be suitable for everyone. In the next section, we’ll explore some of the challenges and potential drawbacks of using a standing desk.

Challenges of Using a Standing Desk

While standing desks offer numerous potential benefits, it’s important to acknowledge that they also come with certain challenges. Transitioning from a traditional seated desk to a standing desk can be an adjustment, and it’s essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks to ensure a smooth and healthy transition.

Dangers of Prolonged Standing

Just as prolonged sitting can lead to health issues, standing for extended periods can also be problematic. 

When standing for long durations, the muscles in the legs and feet must work harder to maintain balance and support the body’s weight. This can lead to fatigue, discomfort, and even pain in the lower extremities. Additionally, standing for extended periods can cause blood to pool in the legs, potentially leading to varicose veins and other circulatory issues.

To mitigate these risks, it’s crucial to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, taking regular breaks to move around and stretch. Experts recommend switching between sitting and standing every 30 minutes and taking a movement break of 5-10 minutes every hour. If you are a beginner, start with short standing periods (approximately 5-10 minutes per hour) and gradually increase your standing time.

In our article “Can a standing desk be bad for you?“, we further explain the effects of prolonged standing on your health.

Difficult Adjustment Process

Transitioning from a seated desk to a standing desk can be challenging, especially for those who are accustomed to sitting for most of the day. It’s common to experience discomfort, fatigue, and even pain in the feet, legs, and back during the initial adjustment period.

To ease the transition, it’s essential to start slowly, gradually increasing the amount of time spent standing each day. It’s also important to ensure that the standing desk is set up ergonomically, with the monitor at eye level and the keyboard and mouse at a comfortable height to prevent strain on the neck, shoulders, and wrists.

Investing in a supportive pair of shoes and an anti-fatigue mat can also help reduce discomfort and fatigue when standing for extended periods. Over time, the body will adapt to the new standing routine, and the initial discomfort should subside.

While the challenges of using a standing desk may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that the potential benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. 

For Which People Are Standing Desks Worth It?

While standing desks offer numerous potential benefits, they may not be the perfect solution for everyone. It’s important to consider your individual needs, preferences, and health status when deciding whether a standing desk is worth the investment.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work states that 2 hours is considered the maximum time for continuous sitting, as health risks may occur when this 2-hour limit is exceeded on a regular basis.

This means that if you sit for 2 hours or longer at a time on your workdays, you should definitely consider getting yourself a standing desk, especially if you also:

  1. Experience back, neck, or shoulder pain: As mentioned earlier, standing desks can help alleviate pain in these areas by promoting better posture and reducing the strain caused by sitting for long hours.

  2. Have a history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease: Standing desks can help manage blood sugar levels and improve overall cardiovascular health.

  3. Require more productivity and focus: As mentioned above, many standing desk users report increased energy, focus, and productivity when working while standing. If you find yourself struggling to stay alert and engaged during the workday, a standing desk might be a worthwhile investment.

If you are someone with certain health conditions, such as chronic leg or foot pain, varicose veins, or balance issues, you may find standing for extended periods significantly uncomfortable or even harmful. In this case, you should definitely contact a healthcare professional in order to receive personalized advice.


1. Can a standing desk help with back pain?

Yes, using a standing desk can potentially help alleviate back pain, especially lower back pain caused by prolonged sitting. By promoting better posture and reducing pressure on the spine, standing desks may provide relief for those suffering from back aches and pains associated with desk jobs or sedentary lifestyles.

2. Are treadmill desks worth the investment?

Treadmill desks, which allow you to walk slowly while working, can be a great way to increase physical activity and calorie burn during the workday. However, they can be expensive and may not be suitable for all workplaces or home offices. Consider your budget, space, and work requirements before investing in a treadmill desk.

4. How do I choose the right standing desk?

When choosing a standing desk, consider adjustability (manual or electric), height range, desktop size, and weight capacity.