Looking for information on sit-stand workstations? We’ve got you covered.
Editor’s note: This is a comprehensive guide to sit-stand workstation resources. Consider bookmarking this page for future reference.
There is an overwhelming amount of information in the world, and more is being created every day. Just Google “sit stand desk” and you’ll get 12,500,000 results.
With that kind of overwhelm, from time to time we publish our favorite resources on ergonomics and injury prevention topics. We do it to help you find the signal in the noise (and to save you the time and headache of doing it yourself).
We hope to provide a balanced view with this guide to sit-stand workstations and to provide helpful resources along the way. Enjoy!
(Use the table of contents below to jump to each section.)
Table of Contents
The Problems: Sitting Disease and Musculoskeletal Disorders
Sit-stand workstation solutions have exploded in popularity in the last few years in response to two problems in particular; sitting disease and musculoskeletal disorders. Let’s take them on one at a time.
It’s a simple fact of life that we’re more sedentary now than ever before. It’s alarming when you think about it and for good reason. The statistics in the articles below confirm the problem.
Too Much Sitting Linked to Heart Disease, Diabetes, Premature Death
A collection of 47 studies found that people who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes — even those who exercised regularly.
The Health Hazards of Sitting
This informative infographic from the Washington Post details the damage sitting will do to your body from top to bottom. From organ damage to a stiff back to a foggy brain, it doesn’t look good.
What Are the Risks of Sitting Too Much?
This post from the Mayo Clinic highlights a study where that compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:
- A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
- About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack
Infographic — Sitting Disease by the Numbers
This infographic from JustStand.org highlights more research into the problem of sitting disease and also highlights the fact that 75% of employees at large companies wished they didn’t spend most of their working hours sitting.
Sitting Disease Research Guide
This page is a compilation of research into the dangers and health hazards of sitting disease. Here are a few of the key findings highlighted on JustStand.org:
- Workers who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations, according to a Stanford University back pain study.
- A 2015 study published in the Oxford Journal of Public Health shows that sit-to-stand desks in classrooms appear to be an effective way of reducing sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) in a diverse sample of children.
- At their 2013 annual meeting, the American Medical Association adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as sit-stand desks.
- A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when workers are equipped with sit-stand workstations, prolonged sitting is reduced and mood states improve.
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
MSDs are another frequent problem cited in the sit-stand discussion. While “sitting disease” usually manifests in problems like heart disease, diabetes and reduced mortality, sedentary lifestyles and poorly design workstations also wreak havoc on musculoskeletal systems.
Your body is designed to move. That’s what the musculoskeletal system is built for, to move. When it doesn’t, you’ll start to have problems.
The Definition and Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders
MSDs are a common and costly problem for people and companies across the United States.
- MSDs are the single largest category of workplace injuries and are responsible for almost 30% of all worker’s compensation costs. (source: BLS)
- U.S. companies spent 50 billion dollars on direct costs of MSDs in 2011. (source: CDC)
- Indirect costs can be up to five times the direct costs of MSDs. (source: OSHA)
- The average MSD comes with a direct cost of almost $15,000. (source: BLS)
Musculoskeletal Health Checklist
Complete the Musculoskeletal Health Checklist below to discover how your organization’s efforts to prevent musculoskeletal injuries compares to best practices of leading organizations.
MSD Prevention Opportunity Calculator
MSDs are the most common and costly injuries in the workplace today. Proactive safety leaders are meeting this challenge head on and turning it into a valuable opportunity to make a difference within their organization. Use this MSD prevention calculator to discover your MSD prevention opportunity.
Workplace Ergonomics 101
Ergonomics is the science of designing the workplace, keeping in mind the capabilities and limitations of the worker. Poor worksite design leads to fatigued, frustrated and hurting workers. This rarely leads to the most productive worker. More likely, it leads to a painful and costly injury, lower productivity and poor product quality.
MSD Prevention 101
Go through the MSD Prevention 101 tutorial to learn the very basics of MSD prevention and get access to helpful resources along the way.
MSD Prevention Workshop
The 8 short lessons in the MSD Prevention Workshop lay the foundation for building a process to prevent MSDs in a consistent and predictable way.
Sit vs. Stand Debate
Should you sit? Should you stand?
And if so, what is the perfect combination of the two?
What about treadmill desks? Exercise balls? Spin bikes? Aren’t we getting a little crazy here?
Ah, welcome to the sit vs. stand debate!
Sitting and Standing
This is an interesting take on the sit-stand discussion. Here’s the conclusion: “Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 8 minutes AND MOVE for 2 minutes. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and stand and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. And movement is FREE! Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).”
Facts About Standing Desks (What You Should Know Before You Take a Stand)
Here’s a great quote from this well written paper from Workrite Ergonomics President, Charlie Lawrence, “A standing desk can be just as bad for you as a traditional sitting desk! If we refer back to Dr. Levine’s research on NEAT we will find that the real key is movement, NOT sitting all day and NOT standing all day either. What you need is an adjustable height desk, NOT a standing desk. This is an extremely important distinction and one that most of the media and many of the people that sell these products fail to understand or care about!”
7 Reasons Why You Don’t Want a Standing Workstation
This post on FitDeskJockey reviews seven things to consider before moving to a sit-stand desk solution.
Wellworking Sit Stand Debate Event
Wellworking conducted a Sit Stand Debate event on June 7th 2016 in the Herman Miller Showroom. It was a great event with experienced speakers in the field of workplace wellbeing sharing their views and research about Sit-Stand Workstations and trend. The experts were from Herman Miller, Gensler, Wellnomics and Wellworking.
Too Much Focus Standing in the Sit-Stand Debate Say Ergonomics Experts
“Although sitting for too long can have detrimental effects on the body, standing for too long has its own set of detriments such as pooling of blood in the feet, increased back pain, varicose veins and even an increased risk of atherosclerosis (i.e. hardening and narrowing of the arteries). At the recent U.S. National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition, Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of life sciences at NASA, simply said to stand up often. “Standing up often, at least 30 times a day, is a powerful antidote to sitting,” she said.”
Sitting at Work is Bad, But is Standing Actually Better?
“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” said Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.”
The History of Sit-Stand Workstations
Just because sit-stand workstations have exploded in popularity in recent years doesn’t mean they’re a new invention by any means. Apparently a few smart people didn’t wait for the sitting disease research to come in before they developed a sit-stand solution.
The Long (and Famous) History of the Standing Desk
Standing desks are definitely not a new phenomenon. What do Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Ernest Hemingway have in common? You guessed it – they stood (at least part of the time) while they worked.
Who Made that Standing Desk?
From the New York Times Magazine: “Standing desks are nothing new. Nor is their use as therapeutics. Recent studies may warn that time spent sitting correlates with heart disease and early death, but such worries go back centuries. “A sedentary life may be injurious,” the Presbyterian minister Job Orton advised in 1797. “It must therefore be your resolute care to keep your body as upright as possible when you read and write; never stoop your head nor bend your breast. To prevent this, you should get a standing desk.”
Office Ergonomics Best Practices
So if there are problems with sitting and there are problems with standing, what are you to do?
My advice is to use the “Ergonomics Plus” philosophy to guide your approach.
Ergonomics: Follow office ergonomics best practices to design your sitting and standing workstation. (Click here to download our office ergonomics checklist.)
Plus: Care for your musculoskeletal system by developing good health habits and being intentional about using good work practices throughout the day.
If there is one best practice I’d like to highlight in particular, it’s this one: move.
Movement is key.
Stand up. Sit down. Walk. Stretch. Move! Don’t go too long in one static position.
Whether you’re sitting or standing at any given moment, it’s important you’re adhering to the fundamental principles of ergonomics. If you’re getting plenty of movement throughout the day and you design your (sitting and standing) workstation correctly, you’ll be in good shape.
10 Office Ergonomics Tips to Help You Avoid Fatigue
Follow these quick and easy office ergonomics tips to decrease fatigue, discomfort and physical stress while also increasing comfort and productivity.
8 Fundamental Ergonomic Principles for Better Work Performance
Just imagine walking through the plant floor and instantly being able to identify risk factors that contribute to soft tissue injuries and disorders. Seeing the world through ergo eyes is like being able to see the potential injuries that could mar your stellar safety record so you can proactively make workplace design improvements to prevent that from happening. So, here are eight fundamental ergonomic principles to help you identify ergonomic risk factors and maintain your stellar safety record.
The Ultimate Guide to Office Ergonomics
Clearly, the sedentary lifestyles of many of today’s workers are posing serious health challenges and costs to people and businesses across the country. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Smart companies are meeting these challenges head on with a proactive approach.
Part of this approach is to implement an office ergonomics program. OSHA defines ergonomics as, “The science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.”
When the incompatibilities between the work and the worker are removed, it allows for maximum safe work performance. Ergonomic risk factors are removed and the worker achieves maximum productivity. For these reasons, we often say that ergonomics is good for business and great for people.
If you’re new to the office ergonomics game, you might be wondering where to get started. What does an ergonomics improvement process look like? How do you choose the right chair, keyboard, mouse and other office equipment?
If you’re wondering about these things, relax. We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to office ergonomics.
Office Ergonomics – Practical Solutions for a Safer Workplace
This PDF from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries offers a comprehensive look into what an office ergonomics program is conducted.
More Ergonomics and Injury Prevention Resources
For more ergonomics and injury prevention resources, sign up for an entire library of helpful tools and training. Learn more and register here.