The Surprising Psychological Benefits of a Standing Desk

December 25, 2018

psychological benefits of a standing desk
psychological benefits of a standing desk

Molly McDougall

The physical health benefits of using a standing desk for work are widely reported and well-known. But what about the psychological benefits? Can standing more often during the work day really make a noticeable impact on your mental health? The research doesn't lie...learn why scientists say height adjustable desks are good for your brain as well as your back.

Better Mood and Higher Energy

Posture and position can make all the difference when it comes to your psyche. Results from a 2012 Australian survey noted that "time spent sitting while using a computer" was associated both with more severe depression and anxiety, and posited that limiting sitting time could be a strategy worth pursuing to improve mental health. Using a standing desk is a surefire way to increase your stand-to-sit ratio.

In another short-term study, workers who used standing desks reported less stress and fatigue than their seated colleagues, as well as increased energy throughout the day. Notably, when the desks were removed at the end of the study, these improvements mostly disappeared within two weeks.

Researchers in the United Kingdom and Australia published a study in The BMJ, in October 2018, on the effectiveness of Britain's Stand More AT Work (or SMArT Work) program to encourage more standing at work. A group of office workers was divided into a test group and control group, with the test group receiving a height adjustable workstation, instruction and coaching. After 12 months, the employees with standing desks not only spent less time sitting but also improved their engagement with work, daily anxiety and overall quality of life.

Confirming nearly all of the above results, also in October 2018, FlexiSpot surveyed over 3,000 customers from various industries to create their Standing Desk Status Quo 2018 Report. This report aimed to summarize the role that standing desks play - both in and out of the office - in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Survey respondents reported on how they use their desks and how they've benefited since incorporating a sit-stand desk into their work routine. One of the top three benefits reported was improved mood and energy.

Improved Productivity and Processing

Standing while working not only boosts your mood, but your brain power as well. The Washington Post reported on a six-month study conducted by Texas A&M University's Health Science Center School of Public Health on productivity when using a standing desk. Researchers found that workers with standing desks significantly increased their productivity over those with traditional seated desks - by 23 percent in the first month and increasing to 53 percent by the last month of the study. Even one of the study authors was shocked at the significance of the increase in productivity, as it was even more pronounced than previous - yet still positive - study results on standing desks' effect on productivity.

Similarly, Forbes reported on a study - published in Psychological Science in 2017 - that found mental processing time for a psychological test was slightly faster in a group of standing study participants versus the group of sitting participants. The analysis mentioned previous research showing that a mild amount of stress increased cognitive performance. How do these pieces connect? When standing, you're less relaxed and must be aware of your balance and engage more muscles. This gives you a slight mental edge - not so much stress that it's overwhelming, but just enough to cut through complacency. This slightly sharpened focus could help explain the increased work engagement found in the previously mentioned BMJ study.

But just as the body needs breaks from standing, so does the mind. The option to raise and lower a work surface as needed, either through a height adjustable desk or a standing desk converter, lets workers tailor their space to the task. For example, standing might to energize employees to make successful sales calls or produce superior collaborative work, while sitting could be best for tasks requiring quiet concentration such as calculating complicated formulas or writing technical documentation. The flexibility and freedom to customize your working environment is a mood-booster in itself.

Consider not only doing your spine a favor but also the vital organ it helps support...use a standing desk to energize your body and brain!

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