I have been working from home for 5 years and using a standing desk for about 2 years. I feel more energetic while I working at a standing desk. When sitting all day, I would usually tire by 2pm. I found it harder to concentrate. But with a standing desk, I experience this around 3:30-4pm. But if I don’t take regular breaks to sit or move around, I feel just as tired at the end of the day as when I sit at a desk all day.

I have an Apple Watch that reminds me to stand at least every hour for 12 hours. Even though I work at a standing desk, it will detect that I’m not moving much and determine that I need to stand. It’s not very scientific. But if the watch thinks I’m still sitting, I probably haven’t benefitted from standing in the past hour. It’s not a new conversation. A 2015 post from the Apple discussion forums, “Stand activity doesn’t work with standing desks (oh the irony)” confirms this common experience. Apple Watch doesn’t detect all-day standing at a standing desk. Your wrists aren’t moving much so the watch doesn’t credit you for standing. This also true for the treadmill desks. If you aren’t moving your arms in a walking motion, the Apple Watch won’t credit you for standing or moving.

Tim Cook exclaimed in an interview in June 2018 that “sitting is the new cancer” and 100% of Apple employees are given standing desks. I wonder if that will drive them to resolve the problem as thousands of loyal Apple Watch wearing employees complain about not closing their standing ring daily.

Tim Cook on the David Rubenstein Show, Bloomberg.

The benefits of standing desks aren’t clear cut. It appears much of the research is retrospective and sometimes conflicting. The video “The truth about standing desks” from Med School Insiders discusses some of the research and concludes that periodic movement is more beneficial than relying on using a standing desk alone.

Whether sitting or standing at a desk, the most important thing is to move regularly. Standing desks encourage this, as we shift our feet and change our stance. It increases blood flow. However, we still need to move more and it’s best to do so away from our desks.

What I should be doing is taking a break from the work in front of me and moving. It will also rest my eyes, looking at objects at varying distances. I used to exercise during my lunch break. I spent 4 months working on site during a project and slipped out that routine. I’m going to try to re-establish it. Even 3 times a week made a difference to my energy levels. I have a table and chair on the other side of the room and sometimes move my laptop to it to sit and focus on work on one screen. I’ll combine standing and sitting at desks, and moving during breaks.

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