Improve Your Balance With Your Standing Desk

February 11, 2019

A young man stretching at his desk
Jonathan Thompson

Over the past several years, the dangers of sitting all day have been well-documented. In fact, after conducting a workplace ergonomic risk assessment, many employers have decided that sitting is one of the most common risk factors that their employees face. As a result, the adjustable height stand up desk — once a bit of an oddity — has become increasingly common. The benefits of these workstations, though, extend well beyond the obvious fact that they get you on your feet. By encouraging you to be more active while working, an adjustable height stand up desk can also help to improve your balance. But how? And why does it matter?

Understanding Balance

Although it tends to go largely ignored, balance is an integral part of overall fitness and well-being. To fully appreciate its importance, though, it's vital to have a clear definition of exactly what balance is. According to experts, balance can be divided into two separate categories: static and dynamic.

Static balance is exactly what most people think of when they hear the word "balance." This involves maintaining your stability and position when your body isn't moving; the common test of standing on one leg is a prime example of static balance. Logically, then, dynamic balance incorporates your ability to remain stable while your body is in motion. Really, when discussing the practical benefits of balance training, dynamic balance has a huge range of applications. After all, are you most at risk for a fall or injury when you're standing still or when you're running around?

Put simply, improving your dynamic balance allows your body to move more efficiently through space and react safely to any changes in your environment. Dynamic balance, then, has a direct application for the demands of daily life. Several studies, for example, have found that good balance can decrease your risk of injury by about 45 percent. But what does any of this have to do with an adjustable height stand up desk?

Standing Desks for Balance

Switching to a standing desk could help improve your dynamic balance in a few ways. First, the simple fact that you'll be standing means that the muscles controlling your posture — specifically those in your core — will be strengthened. These muscles, largely inactive when you're sitting, directly contribute to your dynamic balance by stabilizing and supporting your spine and hips as you move.

More subtly, though, a standing desk can improve your balance by giving you more opportunities to move. Just like any other skill, balance is developed through practice. And when you sit all day, your sense of balance is not being challenged. The muscles that support your body also weaken and become imbalanced. So when you stand, you have more chances to move and actively challenge your balance. In fact, according to U.S News and World Report, the real danger that's been associated with chairs doesn't actually come from the act of sitting. Instead, it has more to do with inactivity. So, even if you're standing still, you could be developing imbalances and postural problems. Shift your weight from one leg to the other or even walk in place while at your standing desk. Some particularly driven individuals even use a balance board for an added challenge.

If a workplace ergonomic risk assessment finds that sitting is a common risk factor in your workplace, there are many reasons to consider switching to a standing desk.

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