We know that lifting weights is good for your muscles, and that sitting down all day is bad for them, but what does a standing desk do for you? Unfortunately, a standing desk isn’t going to replace a treadmill or spending two hours in the gym, but it does have a few benefits.
Sitting down all day isn’t very good for you, so if you’re looking into the benefits of a standing desk, here’s what you need to know!
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Can a Standing Desk Build Muscle?
Unfortunately, a standing desk cannot build muscle. To put on muscle mass, you have to actively challenge your muscles, then eat enough and stay well hydrated to encourage proper recovery and growth.
Standing up wakes up your body, but it doesn’t challenge your muscles, in the same way doing squats or lunges does.
However, if you’re interested in toning your muscles, a standing desk might be a great addition to your routine. Toning muscle and building muscle are slightly different terms.
When you tone, you lose fat and tighten your muscles. This can help them feel stronger and look more defined. Building muscle involves increasing the size of the muscles. You will notice a significant difference in your strength when you build versus when you tone your body.
Standing correctly involves engaging your core, legs, ankles, and feet. Activating your muscles won’t make them bigger, but they will make sure your posture is correct and that you stay in tune with your body.
Relaxing your muscles may sound more comfortable at first, but after a while, you’ll find your lower back hurts, your feet are sore, and you don’t feel as refreshed and energetic as other people using standing desks say they feel.
Does a Standing Desk Count as Exercise?
You cannot stand all day and count it as exercise. Exercise needs to get your heart rate up and burn significantly more calories than sitting down.
The United States has a big problem with sitting. We spend far too much time in our chairs and not enough time moving around and giving our cardiovascular system the attention it needs. This doesn’t mean there aren’t perks to standing desks, but the idea that they are a solution for a culture used to working, relaxing, and socializing seated is unrealistic.
According to Vox, “standing desks have been heavily promoted as the antidote to our sedentary lifestyle.” However, how they’re marketed isn’t the same as what they can do to improve your health.
Sitting isn’t great for you, and there’s evidence to show that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds suffer from the consequences of sitting too much the most.
What we like about standing desks isn’t just that they get out of your chair, it’s that they make moving around convenient. Getting out of a chair is a lot more mental and physical work than taking a few steps when you’re already standing up.
A standing desk encourages activity by putting you in a position where it’s difficult to argue you can’t move around more.
Set a timer and incorporate a few squats into your routine every hour or so. Alternatively, you could make sure to talk a walk around the office or do a few jumping jacks every so often. Intense movement that raises your heart rate will do a lot more good than just being on your feet all day.
Is it Bad to Use a Standing Desk All Day?
You do not need to stand all day to cancel out the negative side effects of sitting. In fact, standing for too long can be harmful and even injure you.
When you stand, you’re putting all of your weight on your feet. That may not sound like a problem– and it’s not initially — but soon, your feet, ankles, and legs will begin to tire.
Most people like the idea of jumping head first into using their standing desks. They spent all that time and money setting it up, and now they want to get the most out of it as soon as possible!
While we appreciate their enthusiasm, gradually introducing your body to a standing desk is the best way to ensure you have a long-term and sustainable relationship with it.
How Long Should I Stand at my Standing Desk?
It’s recommended that new standing desk owners start out by standing for no more than an hour a day. You need to get used to the sensation of being on your feet for long periods.
Your footwear and the flooring will also determine how comfortable it is to stand.
Once you’ve adjusted to standing more, you can try to stand for 30 minutes out of every hour. Lots of people like to set alarms, so they don’t stand or sit too much.
More importantly, though, is standing correctly. You should avoid leaning on one leg or foot as this will cause soreness and stiffness.
Like with sitting, you should also avoid staying in one position for too long. Your body needs to be woken up and moved around (even a little bit) regularly. This could look like you changing the position of your feet or stretching and walking around, whatever works best.
Unfortunately, a standing desk will not give you a six pack or super strong quads. However, it can tone your muscles and keep your body awake and activated throughout a workday.
Standing desks are wonderful, but they aren’t magic. If you’re concerned about your health, taking a walk or doing a workout video will do a lot more for your body than forcing yourself to stay on your feet all day long.
Naturally, spending less time sitting is beneficial. It burns a few more calories and improves circulation, but it’s nothing like running or bench-pressing weights.
The best advice we can give you is to find workouts you can do at your desk!
Have you seen an improvement in your health since switching to a standing desk? Are you conscious about changing positions while standing or sitting? Let us know in the comments!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.