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We won’t be surprised if you’re reading this article standing up. By now, it is common knowledge that prolonged sitting has several adverse effects on your body. It has become one of the greatest enemies of both desk job workers and hardcore gamers alike. It ups the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, back injuries, and a myriad of other health problems. And that’s why standing desks are all the rage nowadays. With its promises of improved posture and other health benefits, more and more people are convinced to use it daily.
The concept of a standing desk is simple: it is a desk that allows you to work while standing. Strong evidence shows that doing so has several advantages over merely sitting while working or gaming. So, if you are like the many others who are on the path to changing their lifestyles, this is an excellent place to start. In this article, we will talk about the benefits and proper usage of standing desks. And, we will also share with you our list of the best standing desks available today.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Standing Desks
There are so many choices out there; we don’t want you to end up buying the wrong one. Here are the qualities that make up an excellent standing desk.
Ease of Use
The best standing desks may be lifted and pushed down effortlessly. You don’t want a desk that is such a hassle to adjust, as that will be more trouble than it is worth. Don’t get a desk that might even end up hurting you as you try to switch positions. Some manual standing desks tend to do that.
That’s why we think an electric standing desk is worth the investment. It’s easy to use and reliable, which means you’ll have no excuse to use it! If your budget only allows you to get a manual standing desk, make sure that it won’t take a lot of effort to adjust it. If you do, you might end up not wanting to adjust the desk any longer, which is somewhat counterproductive.
It has to be suitable for sitting, too.
When you get a standing desk, keep in mind that it’s not about standing for hours on end as you work or play. The key is to move – not to stay in a specific position for long periods.
So, don’t get a standing desk that’s only concerned about your standing position. This is what many brands take for granted. Some manufacturers focus too much on adjusting the desk such that it’s great for working while standing. But, when it’s time to sit, the desk does not drop low enough for regular activities such as writing or typing.
Remember, it’s not just about standing, but more importantly, the ability to switch positions whenever your body needs to. When you get a standing desk, get one that is easily adjustable such that you can work correctly either while seated or standing. It will be counterproductive to get a standing desk that will only deliver half the objective. If you’re ready to invest in one, make sure it serves the purpose for which it is intended.
You have heard of this word before, but what does it mean? Ergonomics refers to how easy and comfortable a product is to use in relation to your body. When it comes to standing desks, good ergonomics means that you can do you work comfortably regardless of your position. Good ergonomics implies that there is zero possibility of you injuring yourself when you use the desk. So whether you’re seated or standing, your standing desk should not give you Carpal Tunnel syndrome or spine and neck injuries.
In the United States, the average female height is 5’4″, while the average male is 5’10”. With these measurements, the ideal heights for standing desks are 24.5″ while seated and 41.3″ while standing for females; and 26.5″ while seated and 44.8″ while standing for males. But of course, not everyone fits those measurements, so you have to get a standing desk that could be adjusted from 22.5″ to 48.5″.
Apart from the overall height, you also need to consider the position of the keyboard and the monitor. The best standing desks should allow your wrists to be in a neutral position when typing. On the other hand, the monitor should be positioned at eye level. This will not only promote good posture, but reduce strains on your wrists, neck, arms, shoulders, and eyes.
Quality and Stability
The best standing desks are made with the highest quality of construction and the most durable materials. These desks are stable and won’t wobble, no matter their position.
This is an essential aspect that most people tend to take for granted. A suitable standing desk comes from a brand with reputable customer service – a group of people who will assist you during ordering and delivery, and help you with repairs and returns.
Most desk converters come ready to use, but most standing desks need a bit of assembly. The best ones are easy to assemble and have straightforward manuals.
Speed of Height Adjustment
The best standing desks switch from sitting to standing and vice versa rather quickly. This feature is measured in inches per second.
This is an essential feature when you work in a quiet office. This is dictated by the quality and number of motors in a standing desk (ideally, there should be two). The noise level is measured in decibels.
Standing desks come in a variety of surface areas. There is no one best size as it is dependent on your needs.
The heavier your items are, the higher the weight capacity of the desk should be. Desks have a wide range of lift capacity, from 20 pounds to up to 360.
The higher the quality of the desk, the longer and better the warranties are.
Sitting Versus Standing
The Risks of Prolonged Sitting
The human body is not designed to sit all day. Gone are the days when humans worked in factories or the fields. In today’s world full of office jobs, we often end up sitting for hours, to no fault of our own.
And, if you think that the only time you sit is when you’re working, think again. On your way to work, whether you’re driving or commuting – you are seated. On your way home, you are seated once again. When you’re eating, whether at home or a restaurant, you’re sitting. When you’re resting and watching TV, you’re sitting. So if you think about it, you don’t only sit for 9 hours, but during the majority of the day!
But the thing is, whether we deserve it or not, we can’t avoid feeling the harsh consequences of sitting way too often. There are so many things that could go wrong in our bodies when we sit for too long. Some people even say that sitting is the new smoking.
Did you know that the moment you sit down, your body doesn’t burn as many calories as it’s meant to? Your muscles start to slow down, as well. And, if you keep it up for 6 hours a day for two weeks, your fatty molecule, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels also increase. Your blood sugar goes up, and your muscles decline, putting you at a higher risk of weight gain and diabetes. Not to mention the plethora of bone problems you’ll be subjected to.
And, just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. If you keep this lifestyle for ten years, your risk of developing breast or prostate cancer increases by 30% and dying from heart disease by 64%. I don’t know about you, but those don’t seem like good numbers.
The Benefits of Standing
Now, if you think that all those harmful consequences could be undone by working out daily, you are sadly mistaken. The truth is, it does not matter if you work out or eat healthily – if you sit for long periods, chances are, you will still feel its harmful side effects sooner than later.
Fortunately, there is still hope to negate all those nasty consequences prolonged sitting can bring. And the solution is not that difficult to do either. If you walk or stand for 10 minutes for every hour of sitting, you’ll be fine.
It might be too tedious and hard to remember in the beginning, so start by setting the alarm on your phone to remind yourself. If you do it daily, it will eventually turn into a habit that won’t need any reminding.
What walking or standing does is it stops your body from going on idle mode. So, if you want to give your body a fighting chance against obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, what’s a few minutes of standing and walking?
None of these are myths, either. Instead, they are all backed by science. Here are some studies that prove the benefits of standing vs. sitting:
- A study published in the European Heart Journal revealed that folks who stand throughout the day have lower waist circumference and BMI levels. Their cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also lower than those who sit all day. Plus, if you stand for an hour, you burn 50 more calories than you do if you sit.
- Another study revealed that standing could be one of the most effective defenses against Type 2 Diabetes. Out of almost 2,500 participants, those who sat for 9 hours a day had an increased risk of diabetes and metabolic problems.
- And, apart from all these proven benefits, standing while working also has some cognitive benefits. According to another study, participants who stood while working showed improvements in brain activity, blood flow, and memory and executive functions. Another study also showed that working while standing increased concentration and problem-solving skills.
Everything in Moderation
Then again, just because standing has numerous health benefits doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Standing all day will be too exhausting for your body, too. It might cause your spine to compress – which isn’t a good thing. It may also cause varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and other cardiovascular problems.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, the problem arises if you do so “all day.” Thus, the best thing to combat these adverse effects is constant movement. It’s all about breaking the pattern.
As such, you have to find the right balance between standing and sitting. The key is not to get stuck in the same position for prolonged periods. There are mobile apps that can help you with this – they work as simple reminders to switch from standing to sitting and vice versa.
Also, take note that not all tasks are best done while standing up. For instance, if your job requires focused and intensive work – it is better that you sit while doing so. But, if your task is to brainstorm, meet with team members, or answer phone calls – these are better done when standing.
These are mere suggestions, though. For instance, some people can write well while standing up, while others prefer sitting down, So do whatever works best for you!
Standing Desks Are Only Supplements, Not Replacements
As we’ve said, prolonged standing also has detrimental effects on the body. For instance, when you stand while working, your elbows don’t get to rest on armrests, and this could strain your neck. So once again, movement is essential. As such, it’s not advisable to stand the whole day. That’s why the best standing desks are designed to allow you to switch from sitting and standing positions.
Also, don’t overdo it by all of a sudden standing way too long. Don’t make the change abruptly, because then you risk developing leg, foot, and back pain. Ten minutes is an excellent place to start. Once you’re used to that, you can stand for another 10 minutes after a couple of hours. Work on it gradually until you reach the point where you stand for 2 to 4 hours on a regular workday.
The Best Ratio
So, what is the perfect balance between sitting and standing? According to Dr. James Levine, we should aim for a 20-8-2 ratio, or 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing, and 2 minutes of stretching or walking. So, if you do this for an entire workday, it translates to 5 hours of sitting, 3 hours of standing, and about 20 minutes of stretching or walking.
Listen to your body.
While standing desks will help you significantly with your health, the best thing to combat the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle is to listen to your body. If you think about it, even the best standing desks will be useless if you don’t act on the cues sent by your body. So, if your body tells you to sit after standing for a few minutes, then sit. If your back feels a little stiff, stand. The great thing about owning a standing desk is that it allows you to make these changes in position without having to pause from work.
The Benefits of Standing Desks
You Move More
Without even noticing it, you move a lot more when standing than sitting. This is because you constantly shift your weight from one leg to another when you get tired. Also, without realizing it, you stretch and fidget more often. You’ll even more likely walk towards a colleague to ask a question when you’re already standing. And as you know, more movement equals more burned calories. And while the number may not be that significant, it’s still better than burning minimal calories!
You Concentrate Better
When you stand while working, the tendency is you focus on work and not waste time on checking your social media accounts. Thus, it makes you more productive, and therefore, it makes you finish work earlier!
It Improves Your Overall Well-Being
When you stand while working, you feel stronger. You feel like you’re strengthening your core, leg, and back muscles. You feel more awake and alert. Standing encourages you to move more, so you’re more awake and alert versus when seated.
The Proper Usage
A standing desk indeed has tons of health benefits to the human body. But, it will only work if you use it right. Here are some of the things you need to remember when working or gaming on a standing desk.
The most important thing is to set your standing desk at the proper height. If you don’t, you’ll only end up with even more consequences than when you’re seated. When it comes to height levels, no one number fits all. Since we have different body measurements, you have to find the best position that’s comfortable for you. You’ll know it’s the right level when you don’t have to slouch or stretch too much to work or play on your computer. Typing should also be comfortable and won’t cause strain on your hands and wrists.
Ideally, your elbows should be positioned 90 degrees from the floor. Your hands should be resting comfortably on the keyboard. The desk’s level should be the distance from the floor to your elbows. The monitor should be on eye-level and one arm away from your face. In doing all of these, keep in mind that it’s the desk that should be adjusted, not your body. The best standing desks will allow you to adjust the height effortlessly until you find the right position.
Also, while perfect posture is ideal, it’s reasonable to slouch from time to time. That’s okay – as long as you only do it for a short period. Using a footstool will also help with your posture because it can take some of the pressure off your back. Again, the key is always to keep moving and not stay in one position for long periods.
Testing the Waters
Before you buy a standing desk, try to see if the idea will work for you first. You don’t have to invest in an expensive standing desk to do so. Place your computer or laptop on top of a higher surface like a stack of books or a box.
It’s better if you have two computers, too! This means you can set them up separately – one for standing and one for sitting. This makes it easier to switch from sitting to standing without a standing desk. This is an excellent setup for multiple people working on the same computers. While one is working on the seated setup, the other could work on the standing workstation.
Types of Standing Desks
Once you’re used to the idea and you’re ready to do it long-term, we recommend investing in an excellent standing desk. When it comes to standing desks, you have four options.
- The first one is called a standing desk converter. This type of desk is designed to turn your regular desk into a standing desk. It sits above your actual desk and allows you to adjust the position of your monitor, mouse, and keyboard, without having to move your picture frame, coffee cup, and office supplies. You could install these adjustable kits to your existing desks.
Most converters come with a lever that you can use to adjust the height of the desk. Some high-end converters make use of a weighted counterbalance system to make the process easier. Converters are an ideal option if you work in an office where you are assigned a fixed desk, or if you’re on a budget.
- The second option is a manual standing desk. With this type of desk, you can adjust its height whenever you please with just a switch of a button. This allows you to sit or stand without having to switch to another workstation. Manual sit and stand desks are very affordable, although some of them tend to be challenging to use. When getting this desk, make sure that it could be easily adjusted.
- The third type is an electric standing desk. It works the same way as the second type, except it runs on an electric motor, making the adjustment more manageable and smoother. When getting this type of desk, check for the motor’s noise level. Cheaper ones tend to make a loud noise because they make use of a single electric motor. A better but more expensive option is a desk with one engine in each leg.
- A portable standing desk is ideal if you tend to move around a lot when you work. For instance, if you work in the medical field where you need to carry your computer from one room to another, this is an excellent option for you. Likewise, if you’re a home-based worker who wants to switch from one area in the house to another while working, this is also an excellent choice. These portable standing desks come in different sizes, so you can choose the one that suits your requirements.
Whatever your option is, make sure that you adjust the position of your computer to the proper level. That’s the only way to reap all its benefits.
The Best Standing Desks For Your Situation
Not all standing desks will work for everybody. When you decide to get a standing desk, you should always consider what you’re going to use it for. Base your choice on your working situation. Here are our recommendations:
- If you’re using a laptop, don’t get a standing desk converter. These desks usually have a separate monitor and keyboard platform, which is specially designed for desktop computers. Your laptop might not be able to fit the keyboard platform, while the monitor platform could be too high. What we recommend for laptop users is either a portable standing desk or an electric sit and stand desk.
- If you’re using one monitor and a keyboard, a standing desk is the most suitable for you. And since you’re only using one monitor, you don’t need to bother yourself with a huge desk. You won’t need to worry about weight capacity either, so a portable standing desk could also work.
- If you’re using more than one monitor, you have to get a desk with a functional weight capacity. A large, durable, and standing desk with a significant capacity is what you need.
- If you have other stuff apart from your monitor and keyboard, such as documents, folders, and books, you need a desk with a sizeable surface area. A desk converter might not be the right choice for you. We’re also assuming that you won’t need a portable desk, either. Your best option is a standing desk.
Standing Desk Supplements
Arm support is a soft cushion that you could attach to your desk to offer, well, arm support. It is also scientifically proven to reduce wrist pressure and neck and shoulder problems, as well. So if you want to make your standing desk even easier to use, it might be a good idea to invest in arm supports.
It may sound easy, but standing for 10 minutes straight could be tiring, especially in the beginning. As such, I highly recommend that you get an anti-fatigue mat. It encourages your leg muscles to make subtle movements, which improves your blood flow. Also, it helps absorb some of the stress on your body, which in turn lessens lower back pain and leg problems.
Is footwear essential when using a standing desk?
Absolutely! If you want to help your body stand while working for ten minutes at a time, stay away from high heels. Comfy flats are your best friends, especially at the beginning of your transition.
Is standing while working worth it?
I’m not going to lie and say that prolonged standing has zero adverse side effects because it does like poor posture, fluid retention, plantar fasciitis, varicose veins, et cetera. But, the benefits outweigh the risks. And as long as you do it in moderation, there’s no need to worry about these consequences.
Why does my back hurt when using a standing desk?
It could be that it is not at the optimum height. Make sure to adjust its height such that you are working comfortably. If you are, maybe you’re still at that adjustment phase. Standing while working is all new to you, so you can’t expect your body to get used to it right away. It takes a couple of weeks to adapt to this change, so give yourself some time to do so.
To help reduce back pain, switch the weight of your body from time to time. You could rest one leg on a footstool if you have one. Footrests are excellent at providing back and leg relief due to prolonged standing. Do a pelvic tilt exercise from time to time to stretch your body.
Are standing desks safe for everybody?
You may want to skip on a standing desk when you’re pregnant. Pregnant women are not recommended to hold any position for prolonged periods, may it be standing or sitting, especially during the third trimester.
The Best Standing Desks of 2019
Without further ado, here are the best standing desks of 2019.
The Best Electric Standing Desk: The iMovR Lander
- Lift Type: Electric
- Transit Speed: 1.6”/s
- Height Range: 24.5” – 50.5”
- Capacity: 360 pounds
- Frame: lifetime
- Electronics and moving parts: 10 years
- Tabletop: 5 years
- Price: $1,049
The iMovR Lander is one of the most cutting edge electric standing desks today. We love that it only takes a few minutes to assemble it, and does not require any tools to do so. But, what sets it apart is its paddle controller. Unlike usual electric standing desks that come with hand controllers with a lot of buttons, the Lander has just one paddle. All you need to do is tap the paddle once to adjust the desk to your most preferred height level. Two taps, on the other hand, will switch the desk to your second preferred level. So easy!
The paddle’s multi-color and high-resolution display has a Bluetooth link, meaning you can control the desk with your phone. It also has a built-in health coach that you could access via the paddle or your phone.
And, as if that’s not enough, the iMovR desk also comes with a ten-year warranty, 3D-laminated surfaces, and a myriad of sizes to choose from. You could also purchase it with a built-in keyboard tray. The standing desk also comes in a whopping 36 color combinations.
Because of its impressive height range, we deem the Lander an excellent option regardless of your height. Since it’s incredibly durable, it is also great if you like using the treadmill while working. It is even ANSI/BIFMA X5.5 certified, to boot!
The only con we see for this desk is that it does not have a corner model. But, its manufacturers did recently release an L-shaped desk based on the Lander.
- ANSI/BIFMA X5.5 certified
- Comes in 16 3D Laminate Colors and 36 Species Combos
- Comes in various sizes
The Best Manual Standing Desk: ModTable Crank-Type Stand Up Desk
- Lift Type: Manual
- Transit Speed: 2 turns per inch
- Maximum height: 40.”
- Weight Capacity: 130 pounds
- Noise Level: 75 dB
- Moving parts: 2 years
- Steel: 5 years
- Price: Topless: $479-$799, With Desktop: $549 – $869 (prices vary based on size and color)
When it comes to crank-adjustable standing desks, MultiTable is the leading brand. And their ModTable Manual Standing Desk is our favorite. First of all, its steel frames (that come in either red, black, or white finish) are incredibly durable. It has removable hand cranks that can adjust the desk’s height from 27.5″ to 47.5″.
The ModTable’s hand crank is also very easy to use. To raise your desk, turn the crank clockwise. To lower it, turn it counterclockwise. And, while it understandably takes a bit longer and requires more effort to adjust the height compared to an electric desk, it is still the fastest manual standing desk there is today. At a rate of two turns per inch, it is tremendously much quicker than the standard five spins per inch cranks. The only drawback is that compared to other manual desks, it has a relatively lower weight capacity in motion (130 pounds vs. 200 pounds).
Another thing we love about the ModTable is that you can adjust its width as well, from 39.55″ to 55.5″. So whether you want a sizeable or compact surface area, the ModTable can comfortably accommodate you.
- Comes in various sizes and colors
- Fast adjustment speed
- Adjustable width
The Best Standing Desk Converter: VertDesk Converter
- Height Range: 6.25”–20.25”
- Monitor Dimensions: 35.5”W x 15.75”
- Keyboard Dimensions: 26.25”W x 13”
- Weight capacity: 35 pounds
- Price: $299
This standing desk converter is the most durable one we’ve tested so far. With a double z shaped base, you are guaranteed to have strong and stable support for your computer. It has one platform for the monitor and one for the keyboard. It has two gas lift cylinders that make adjusting the desk smooth and noise-free.
It comes with two handles beneath the monitor surface that allows you to move it up and down. Aside from being easily adjustable, you also get to set the height to limitless levels because of its infinite position lock.
The monitor platform is big enough to fit two 24” monitors. It also has a grommet hole for your wires and cables.
The only downside we noticed with the VertDesk converter is that you’ll need to use it with a monitor arm to make it more ergonomic. Also, it has a rather small keyboard platform, so your keyboard options will be a bit limited.
- 30-day free trial
- No assembly needed
- Extremely stable and durable
- Built-in grommet hole
- Upper and lower platforms for monitor, keyboard, and mouse
- Two gas cylinder-mechanism with infinite position lock
The Best Portable Standing Desk: Stand-up Desk Stores’ 40-inch Mobile Adjustable-Height Stand Up Desk
- Lift Type: Manual
- Color: Dark walnut
- Height Range: 28.75”–42.75”
- Size: 40”
- Weight: 61 pounds
- Price: $189
This standing desk made it to our list because not only is it portable, it is also extremely affordable! For less than 190 bucks, you get an easy-to-assemble, reliable, and easy-to-use desk.
Aside from being portable, it also has a wide surface area and a shelf that you can use to store files and other accessories. Its sturdy frame comes in a sleek silver-gray coating while its shelves are dark-walnut laminated, making it incredibly stylish.
The standing desk also has a monitor mount with an adjustable one-inch accretion that makes it easy to tilt and adjust your screen to your desired position.
With its three-inch furniture wheels and lock brakes, you can quickly move the desk anywhere in the house or office with ease.
- ANSI/BIFMA accredited
- Adjustable monitor mount
- Large shelf surface (39.25” W X 28.5”)
There is overwhelming evidence about the importance of movement to our bodies. This is what makes standing desks such a popular choice over regular desks. When you buy a standing desk, don’t treat it like any ordinary piece of furniture. Do your research and carefully pick the one that will serve its purpose well. There are many options out there, so you have to be wise about your decision. And we hope that with this simple guide, we were able to help!