For me, the answer is a definite….YES!!!!
Remaining in one position, whether sitting or standing for long periods at a time, will have negative effects on your overall health. Ergonomic height adjustable or standing desks, are available throughout South Africa. These desks give you the freedom to alternate between sitting and standing while you work.
Changing from sitting to standing will not necessarily combat the negative effects of sitting statically all day. In the same way, standing all day at work is also unhealthy. I believe that a balanced approach is needed where you combine sitting, standing and movement at work. I use this combination to keep my mind and body healthy!
I am a trained Office Ergonomic Risk Facilitator at Karo and understand the importance of ergonomics in the workplace. I have done extensive online research on sitting versus standing at work, and was quite surprised by the varied perspectives from bloggers and experts, especially as far as standing is concerned. Some maintain that standing at work is the “NEW BEST THING”, while for others it is a big “NO-NO”. These varied perspectives prompted me to write this blog to share my own personal experience.
In June 2020 I sustained a pinched nerve in my lower back and I was in agony for 3 months. The pain in my lower vertebrae and surrounding muscles filtered into my hips, back, buttock and legs. It was so severe that I couldn’t sit still for longer than 30 minutes without moving. Fortunately, at work I was testing an ergonomic electric height adjustable standing desk, which thankfully I got to keep. By using the desk’s programable function, a simple touch of a button allowed me to change my working position from sitting to standing.
To alleviate the pain, I began to stand more at work and also increased the amount of movement in my daily routine. With no fixed pattern, I continually alternated from sitting, to standing and walked around as soon as I felt any pain in my body. Although I had been advised to do certain exercises to stabilise my spine, I simply couldn’t do them due to the severe pain and discomfort I was experiencing. Because I knew that movement was vital to the healing process, I would take a slow walk to my colleagues situated in another building, and then back to my office. This daily routine of sitting, standing and movement (walking), drastically reduced my pain levels and enabled me to regain full fitness. To this day, I still follow the same daily routine, but have also included a series of simple office exercises to improve my overall wellbeing.
1. What are the negative effects of prolonged sitting and standing?
2. What are the advantages of alternating between sitting and standing?
3. What is the correct posture for sitting and standing?
When you work either standing or sitting, certain ergonomic workstation settings should be the same.
4. Exercise and Movement
Due to the disadvantages of prolonged sitting and standing, adding simple office stretches and exercises to your day can reduce stress, increase energy, and improve your overall mood and creativity. To reduce the health risks of sitting, it is important to keep your body and mind healthy by taking time to move and exercise.
5. What types of height adjustable standing desks are available in South Africa?
There are 3 basic types of standing desks available:
Standing or Sit-Stand Desk Converter
Manual Height Adjustable Desks
Electric Height Adjustable Desks
a. Standing or Sit-Stand Desk Converters
Standing desk converters are placed on top of your existing (fixed-height) desk. They are designed to convert a normal desk into a sit-stand desk. They can be adjusted up and down to ensure the monitor, keyboard and mouse are at your ideal standing height.
There are 2 basic options available:
- Pneumatic or gas-assisted – The upwards height adjustment is aided by a pneumatic lift function and no manual lifting is required. However, some effort is required when lowering the standing desk converter.
- Non-electric counterbalance option – A counterbalance weight makes it easier to change the height of the converter.
Pros and Cons of standing desk converters
b. Manual height adjustable standing desks
There are 2 basic options when it comes to ergonomic manual height adjustable desks. The first uses a simple crank, and the second, a pneumatic lifter to raise and lower the desk.
Crank operated standing desk
Pneumatic lift standing desk
c. Electric standing or height adjustable desks
These standing desks are freely available in South Africa. The electronic control system enables you to change the desk height within seconds at the simple touch of a button.
Pros and Cons of Electric standing desks
Linak® Height Adjustable Desk
6. Factors to consider when using a standing desk
If you are considering buying a standing desk in South Africa, be sure that you keep the following factors in mind:
Based on my personal experience, to improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing, change your working position often (sitting to standing and back again), and include frequent movement in your daily work routine.
Invest in an ergonomic height adjustable standing desk, but do your homework as there are many types available in South Africa. In my opinion, an electric height adjustable desk is definitely the answer! These desks enable you to quickly, easily and frequently change from a sitting to a standing position during your working day. This, together with regular movement, will ensure you to achieve the greatest benefit to your health and wellbeing.
Because of the effort involved in adjusting a manual standing desk, it is unlikely that you will adjust it as often, and so the overall benefit will be less. This is particularly the case with crank handle height adjustable desks.
If you have any medical condition that may not be conducive to standing or exercises, then seek the advice of your health professional.