Are standing desks worth it? Or are they overrated?

Standing desks are trendy and some people claim they're much better for your health. But are they really? Or are they just a fad?
Are standing desks worth it?

If you’re looking to set up a home office, or if you have health issues that you think may be related to sitting down, you might be interested in getting a standing desk. But, before you invest your money, how do you know whether standing desks are really worth it?

Will a standing desk improve your health? How should you set up and use a standing desk? And which one should you choose?

Grab a cup of coffee, take a seat (or stay standing!) and read on to find out…

Are standing desks better for you?

It’s scientifically proven that sitting for long periods of time is bad for you.

Sitting has been shown to lead to all kinds of health problems, including:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High colestorol
  • Fat around the waist

Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/why-sitting-too-much-is-bad-for-us/

Even some types of cancer are more common in people who are less active. Including those who sit down at a desk all day.

Clearly, as sitting down is so bad for you, it’s better to incorporate some standing work into your daily routine. However, that’s not to say that standing is great for you either…

Are standing desks overrated?

It is widely accepted that standing desks are better for you than sitting all day, so we definitely think standing desks are worth it. However, it’s also true that scientific studies in this area are limited and standing desks are, arguably, a bit of a fad.

Some of the assumed benefits of standing desks may be overstated or misunderstood by some people. It’s important to understand that standing desks are not an instant solution to all health problems associated with office work.

For instance:

  • When you use a standing desk, you are not “getting exercise” just because you’re not sat down. It’s still important to walk around regularly.
  • Standing desks are unlikely to help with weight loss.
  • The wrong standing desk can cause health problems, just like a badly configured sitting desk. It’s important that your standing desk is at the right height and that you use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

Overall, we do recommend using a standing desk. However, it’s crucial that you configure your desk properly, don’t try to stand for longer than you can manage, and get plenty of exercise too.

How long should you stand at a standing desk?

The answer to this depends on how much standing you do currently. You shouldn’t go from sitting all day to suddenly standing for long periods of time. Instead, try to build up how much time you spend standing up.

Initially, it’s fine to stand at your desk for, say, one hour per day, or whatever you can manage.

In the longer term, you should aim to stand for one hour for every two hours that you’re sitting down. In other words, for every three hour chunk of your day, you should spend one hour standing up.

However, that’s not to say you should do all of your sitting in one block and all of your standing in one block. It’s much better to alternate every half hour or hour.

For example, instead of this…

  • 0900 to 1100: Sitting (2 hours)
  • 1100 to 1200: Standing (1 hour)

Try this…

  • 0900 to 0930: Sitting (30 mins)
  • 0930 to 1000: Standing (30 mins)
  • 1000 to 1100: Sitting (1 hour)
  • 1100 to 1130: Standing (30 mins)
  • 1130 to 1200: Sitting (30 mins)

Both schedules add up to 2 hours of sitting and 1 hour or standing. However, the second schedule is much better for you, as it involves regular changes in position.

You should create a schedule that includes regular short walks away from your desk, and ideally go for a longer walk during your lunch break too.

How do I choose a standing desk?

When buying a standing desk, it’s important to find one that works for you. That means it’s not simply a case of buying the cheapest or best reviewed. You need to think about your own specific needs.

Height range

Every adjustable standing desk has a certain range of heights that it can be set to.

You’ll want the lowest height to be level with the underside of your elbow when you’re sitting down in a typing position.

The highest height should be level with the underside of your elbow when you’re standing in a typing position.

Electric or manual

Some standing desks are adjusted by hand, while others move at the press of a button.

Obviously, electric is the least effort and fastest to adjust.

Desks that adjust manually can take a lot of handle turns to move from one position to another. This takes a fair bit of effort and can be frustrating.

Desk space

Consider how space you need on your desk. Do you just need enough space for your monitor and keyboard? Or do you need multiple monitors, speakers, space for a laptop, room to write notes, etc?

Full desk or converter?

If you already have a desk that you don’t want to get rid of, but you also want to try standing, don’t despair. You don’t need to get rid of your old desk, or get a second one.

Instead, a standing desk converter, which sits on top of your existing desk, could be the solution for you.

Room space

Where are you going to put your new desk? Be sure to measure carefully. There’s no point buying a fantastic new desk if it doesn’t fit into your home office!

You can find out more about choosing a desk in our guide to setting up a home office.

Top rated standing desks

As explained above, your choice of standing desk will be unique to you. We can’t tell you which one to buy.

However, here are a few well-rated standing desks to get you started…

Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Height Sit Stand Desk - 3-Stage Extended Range Frame with Memory Preset Handset Controller by Fully (White, 48 x 24)
Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Desk with Desktop, 48 x 30 Inches, Standing Desk Stand Up Desk Workstation Classic (Silver Frame + 48 in Black Top)
Standing Desk,Big Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter, 20.1×31.5 Inch Work Area, Fully Assembled (Black)
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Height Sit Stand Desk - 3-Stage Extended Range Frame with Memory Preset Handset Controller by Fully (White, 48 x 24)
Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Desk with Desktop, 48 x 30 Inches, Standing Desk Stand Up Desk Workstation Classic (Silver Frame + 48 in Black Top)
Standing Desk,Big Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter, 20.1×31.5 Inch Work Area, Fully Assembled (Black)
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Height Sit Stand Desk - 3-Stage Extended Range Frame with Memory Preset Handset Controller by Fully (White, 48 x 24)
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Height Sit Stand Desk - 3-Stage Extended Range Frame with Memory Preset Handset Controller by Fully (White, 48 x 24)
Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Desk with Desktop, 48 x 30 Inches, Standing Desk Stand Up Desk Workstation Classic (Silver Frame + 48 in Black Top)
Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Desk with Desktop, 48 x 30 Inches, Standing Desk Stand Up Desk Workstation Classic (Silver Frame + 48 in Black Top)
Standing Desk,Big Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter, 20.1×31.5 Inch Work Area, Fully Assembled (Black)
Standing Desk,Big Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter, 20.1×31.5 Inch Work Area, Fully Assembled (Black)