You already know that standing is better than sitting in terms of your physical health. That’s why we’ve seen a boom in adjustable desks that allow a user to stand or sit, depending on the task at hand.
Posture in an office setting, though, is not a binary choice. There are at least four variations on standing and sitting postures (not counting catching a nap on the break room sofa), and each one can uniquely affect the way you work. Let’s take a look:
Standing: Sitting too much is simply not good for you; that’s been proven over and over again. As that evidence has accumulated, there’s been a good deal of debate over the benefits of standing desks. You’ll probably have better posture when standing, and doing so reduces back pain for many users. Standing at your desk is not exactly exercise (8 calories per hour), but the consensus is that alternating between standing and sitting on a roughly 50/50 ratio does have physical benefits.
More interesting, perhaps, are the potential work-related benefits of standing. You’ll have more energy when you’re vertical, and will typically be engaged in your work to a much greater degree. This is especially true in group settings: Try introducing standing meetings (keep them brief) and you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Perching: You’re not likely to spend much of your day perched on the edge of a barstool-height chair or on a countertop, but it’s a happy medium between standing and sitting. When you’re perched, you’re engaging core muscles that you don’t use when sitting. Your back and legs are working to a degree, and like standing, perching takes more of our energy and tends to keep us engaged.
Sitting: Spending too much time planted in an office chair has been proven again and again to negatively affect your health in a wide variety of ways. Too much sitting isn’t good for you, period.
But that doesn’t mean you should never sit. Sometimes we need to direct all our energy to the cognitive task at hand, and that’s where sitting comes in. The office chair frees your body from effort and allows you to focus mentally.
Flopping: Okay, we made this last term up, but many office settings now feature sofas and other lounge furniture. What happens when you sit in the most relaxed posture possible?
Like sitting in an office chair, this is sedentary behavior and shouldn’t be something you do all day. But parking yourself in a comfy chair or sofa can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, so there’s an argument to be made for short-term relaxation. Some research indicates that this relaxed posture also makes you more open to being more thoughtful, and being a better listener.
The standing versus sitting debate continues, but most agree that the best recipe is a combination of the above. Don’t spend too long in any one posture, and consider not only the physical effects of your position but which is most appropriate for the work you need to get done.
Questions about the best posture for you? Contact Douron.