Will we end up working standing up? Lift-up desks arrive

That (terrible) work cliché that in the office the most important thing is to ‘warm up the chair’ has its days numbered. Not because productivity is going to be imposed on in-person attendance, but because of the growing popularity of lift-up desks. Many companies (even those who work from home) are replacing the classic fixed tables with tabletops that can be adjusted in height, so that one can decide whether to spend the day sitting, standing… or alternating both possibilities.

At first glance, working standing in front of a computer may seem like a nightmare (one imagines having cramps and back pain), but human biology tells us a very different story: the human being is born predisposed to the bipedal position, so Our body is not prepared to spend eight hours a day (or more) on our buttocks. Another thing is that we have become accustomed to it.

«Research has linked prolonged sitting to a number of health problems. These include obesity and a cluster of diseases (increased blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, excess body fat around the waist, and unhealthy cholesterol levels) that constitute metabolic syndrome. Spending too much time sitting in general and staying there for long periods also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer,” recalls Dr. Edward R. Laskowski, a sports medicine specialist.

  • Affordable option

    The cheapest ones (from 300 euros) have a crank.

  • The expensive alternative

    The advanced ones have an electric motor, so they can be adjusted precisely and effortlessly. Prices? From 500 to 1,000 euros. It depends on whether they include height memorization (120 centimeters maximum), drawers, cable management or USB ports.

If we take some of the research that Laskowski refers to strictly, we find that those who spend more than eight hours a day sitting (without practicing physical activity) have a probability of death similar to that of obese people or smokers. These risks can be mitigated with about 60 minutes of exercise a day, reassures the doctor, who offers daily recommendations: standing up every half hour or while talking on the phone… or getting a standing desk (if not a high table or a counter ), an option that is becoming fashionable.

Why its success? They offer advantages such as improved circulation, since they allow you to change your posture and prevent numbness in the legs. In addition, standing also increases energy expenditure: the muscles consume more calories (even marginally), which in the long term contributes to reducing the accumulation of fat around the waist.

Other problems (extremely common) such as lower back pain, contractures or fatigue can be resolved by combining one of these boards with ergonomic office chairs, designed to reduce back discomfort. In fact, working upright helps to strengthen this part of the body and gain muscle mass (also in the glutes and quadriceps).

And one last advantage, not insignificant: various studies have shown that standing up while planning a meeting or writing an email is beneficial for the brain: it increases concentration, reduces mental fatigue, predisposes to creativity and facilitates communication between colleagues. .

Alternating

Well nothing, shall we retire the work chairs? Not quite. Remaining rigid is not advisable either: you have to change your position every half hour, which does not have to involve additional effort. We can vary our support foot, stretch or any other movement that allows us to activate those parts of the body that have been still for too long.

For Gustavo Morales, a 52-year-old office worker from Malaga who opted for one of these elevating desks months ago, the ideal is to “change positions during the day.” «My back hurts a lot less and I’m less numb. It is also true that there are tasks for which one posture or another is better for me. For example, if I have to make a phone call or validate documents, I prefer to raise the table. I lower it if I need to be very focused: when it comes to writing a report or scheduling meetings.

It also works for Morales to set reminders to stand up, either through a voice assistant (Alexa, Siri, Google…), or through monitoring bracelets or smart watches that we increasingly wear on our wrists: « At first you see it as an obligation, but in a few weeks you do it mechanically. The difference is evident”.

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