Many aspects of your work life are influenced by your day-to-day comfort in the office. Research has continually shown that occupational sitting can be both physically and psychologically detrimental to office workers. Standing desks and ergonomic chairs are two ways of mitigating this harm.
For someone who spends many hours a week in the office, the chair and desk cannot be overlooked as keys to maintaining mood, productivity, and health. According to the National Institutes for Health, sitting for extended periods of time can have damaging effects on your spine, circulation, cholesterol, and metabolism.
With this in mind, it is important to research and invest in a desk set up that maximizes your health and comfort. Two popular options for staying healthy and comfortable at work include the standing desk chair and the ergonomic chair.
What are they, and which is best for you?
What is an ergonomic chair?
Ergonomic furniture is specifically designed with comfort and health in mind. It cradles the body in specific ways to maximize support and minimize the pain and health detriment that can potentially arise from long hours spent seated.
For example, the slight tilt of an ergonomic chair promotes proper posture through the pelvis, reducing the risk of back problems arising from prolonged slouching. Furthermore, the backrest can provide lumbar support to the lower back.
A quality ergonomic chair should allow the user to adjust the height, making them able to sit comfortably when working. The benefits of an ergonomic chair include reducing the risk of back pain or muscle stiffness.
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What is a standing desk?
An alternative to the ergonomic chair is the adjustable standing desk. The standing desk is exactly what it sounds like.
An elevated deck surface that allows you to stand at your desk rather than sit. A staple in the stereotypical Silicon Valley tech office space, there are reasons behind the standing desk’s fanatical following.
Research has increasingly shown that standing during the workday may have a number of benefits to the users’ health. These include burning calories, boosting energy, improving circulation, and elevating mood.
Which is better?
The key to choosing between the standing desk and the ergonomic chair mainly boils down to one thing: your comfort. On the one hand, the standing desk offers a multiplicity of unmatched health benefits.
For burning calories and improving circulation, this option is unmatched. However – as anyone who works on their feet all day can tell you – it’s not easy. Especially if you are someone with pre-existing health issues, a standing desk may not be feasible for you.
Even if you are in good health, you may find that the mood-boosting effects of the standing desk only last as long as your patience for standing up.
On the other hand, while the ergonomic chair may not offer the same health benefits as the standing desk, it is still a significant improvement on the standard office chair in terms of circulation and spinal support.
If you’re someone who greatly appreciates the luxury of sitting down, this may be the option for you. On the other hand, if your top priority is keeping active and burning calories, the standing desk may be your choice.
A Popular Compromise
Of course, it isn’t difficult to see the potential for compromise here. Many users of the standing desk accompany it with an elevated ergonomic chair set to the height of the standing desk. That way your workflow doesn’t need to be disrupted because you’re feeling sick sprained an ankle, or are simply fatigued from a day of standing.
This enables you to reap the benefits of both of these options depending on the day, and never leaves you stuck in a standard office chair and the soreness that comes with it.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, these combination sit-stand workstations can still have a considerable effect on health without sacrificing comfort.
The study found that people using a combination of sitting and standing both lowered their cholesterol and increased their metabolism. They also did not show any decrease in focus or productivity.
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The standing desk and the ergonomic chair provide two solid alternatives for your desk setup. If you are spending 40 or more hours a week in the office, there is a good chance that your desk chair is your most-used piece of furniture.
That certainly makes it worth consideration and financial investment. With research increasingly showing the health damage that can be accumulated by long hours sitting sedentary with poor posture and little support, the stakes may be higher than you think.
The ergonomic chair, the standing desk, or some combination of the two is a great step toward maximizing your health, comfort, and productivity in the workspace.