With many people working in front of a computer or at a desk, being able to exercise and keep your body moving is helpful, especially when 16 percent of all global workers are remote. One way to move your body is to elevate your desk and do some simple exercises.
What is a Standing Desk?
A standing desk is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of sitting in a chair while working at a desk, a standing desk elevates the workspace so the worker is able to stand while working. There are a variety of standing desk options that can suit whatever needs the user has. Standing desks come in many different varieties at different price points. If you’re debating whether a standing desk is right for you, there are even table tops that can be bought so your desk can go from a normal seated desk to a standing desk.
When Did Standing Desks Become Popular?
Many famous writers preferred working while standing instead of sitting, like Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway, all stood while they worked.
While standing desks have been used for years, the modern standing desk was introduced in 1980 by Australian researcher Max Banfield. From there, many variations of standing desks have hit the market over the years.
Health Benefits of Using a Standing Desk
There have been many health benefits linked to standing more. Research conducted through the Journal of Physical Activity and Health has found that calories burned while standing are only slightly more than calories burned if sitting. That being said, there are a slew of other health positives that have come with standing more often in general. Standing after eating, for example, can help blood sugar return to normal faster and can reduce shoulder and neck pain. At the same time, amounts of sitting throughout the day have been linked to higher risks of obesity and diabetes. Currently, it is assumed that standing more can help negate these health risks.
It is suggested that if you are going to incorporate a standing desk into your daily work routine, introduce standing gradually. That’s because if you go right into standing all day from sitting, you may be met with some back or leg soreness. Start by standing for 30 to 60 minutes and increase the amount that you stand slowly to hopefully reduce the chance of soreness.
It is also important to note that completing fine motor tasks are typically easier when seated. So, if you need to handwrite something, it may be best to take a seat.
What Are Exercises to Do at a Standing Desk?
There are a variety of exercises that one can do while working at a standing desk. While to keep moving and exercising is important for overall health, it is always important to consult your healthcare provider to ensure that you are doing what is right for your own body’s needs.
7 Exercises to Do at a Standing Desk
- Glute Squats
There are different variations of squats that can be done to activate the gluteal muscles. Depending on your stance, it can activate your glutes differently. With your feet wide, lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Calf Raises
Begin by raising up on your heels slowly, get as high on your toes as you can and pause for one to three seconds then lower back down into the starting position. You can even add hand weights to this exercise
- Marching in Place
While standing at the desk, bend your elbows and stand with your feet hi-length apart. Raise your knees up with the opposite elbow.
- Leg Stands
Stand on one leg, if you’re able to, standing without shoes on helps to increase balance.
- Twist and Taps
Stand with your legs shoulder length apart. Extend your right arm across the left side of your body and tap your hand on the corner of the desk. Repeat with your left hand. You can turn your neck as you do this as well.
- Side Leg Raises
Take one leg out to the side, bend it back behind so the heel of your foot touches your bottom, then place back on the ground. Repeat on both sides.
- Spine Twists
Place your hands on your head with your elbows out, twist while squeezing your core.
Exercises to Do Sitting Down at a Desk
As mentioned above, it is great to ease into a standing desk and there are times where seating will be needed while getting work done. This is also a great time to incorporate resistance bands or handheld weights while sitting.
3 Exercises to Do Sitting at a Desk
- Arm Pulses
Using a resistance band, place it around your forearms. Slowly separate your arms, bring them in and rest, feel the resistance on your arms and repeat.
- Sit to Stand
This is a great way to get your whole body moving—and it is exactly what it sounds like. Go from your seated position then stand up, and repeat.
- Rotational Stretch
Sit with your feet apart and your back straight. Turn to one side of the chair and grab on to the side. Rotate one way and hold for about five seconds. Rotate on the other side and hold. Repeat on both sides.
Additional Equipment to Add to Your Standing Desk
If you’re wanting to elevate your standing desk even more, there is equipment that can be purchased to increase movement even more.
- Seated bike – While you aren’t standing, this is a great way to increase movement
Is a Standing Desk Right for You?
Incorporating standing into your work day can help burn more calories and improve your overall health. To determine just how many calories you are burning each week, use our calorie calculator. You can even make adjustments on the calculator and set goals.
Emily is a freelance writer and teacher. Originally from New York, Emily now lives and works in Europe.