So, you've decided to go with a healthy alternative to a traditional desk. High five to you! There are so many great benefits to getting out of the chair and on your feet during the day, and there are several ways you can make that happen while working.

Now the question is, do you go with a standing desk or really kick it up with a treadmill desk? There are pros and cons to each, so let's take a look at both options and see which one will best fit your needs.

Standing Desk

The lack of activity throughout the day is the real health and productivity killer. Sitting for long periods of time not only puts a strain on your back and neck, but it's also connected to obesity and increases the risk of developing a number of diseases. A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that women who sat more than 10 hours a day had a significantly increased risk of developing heart disease compared to women who sat less than 5 hours a day.

Standing up has been proven to reduce these health risks and alleviate pain.

Pros

By standing for about 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, you can burn 8 pounds of fat each year. Your heart rate beats 10 times more per minute, which adds up to about 30,000 calories burned over the course of a year. Those are numbers we all like to hear!

Because your heart rate is higher and your body is more active, your energy will be higher and your mood brighter. Who doesn't love a happy employee, employer, co-worker... you fill in the blank. The overall atmosphere of an office can change when employees are feeling great!

Another plus, you'll be more focused on the tasks at hand, making you more productive throughout the day. Standing is generally associated with working, while sitting is usually a way we take a load off. Many people who work at sit-to-stand desks allow themselves to sit down once a task is complete. This means you can concentrate on a project until it's done, then sit down and regroup before you tackle the next thing.

Many of our customers, like Reddit, are happy with the way their staff interacts more when they don't feel tied to a chair. Lots of great collaborations can happen as employees connect in person, rather than just via email or chatting apps. 

“My biggest concern was that people would get ‘em, try ‘em for a week or two and then stop standing and it would be a waste of money. Not one person has stopped."
- Dan Wooley | Founder, W&R Studios

Cons

Standing desks do have a few downsides. Some standing desks don't allow you to easily adjust the height of the desk during the day, so if you work on your feet all day, you're going to experience some pain in your legs and feet. If you're not moving around much, you may develop varicose veins or experience swelling in your ankles over time.

High heels are also not a great option, so if you're really attached to those Louboutins, it may be a little heartbreaking to switch to more comfortable shoes made for standing.

As your body adjusts to standing over sitting all day, you'll be able to stand for longer periods of time. That's one of the greatest benefits of a sit-to-stand desk, is that you can sit when you get tired. Anti-fatigue mats can help also, reducing the strain on your ankles and feet from standing.

Treadmill Desk

CRO health Treadmill Desks Lifespan
Image Credit: Consumer Reports

Again, the idea of these alternative desks is to be more active and avoid sitting for a ridiculous amount of time during the day. Treadmill desks are one way people have decided to get moving while they work.

Pros

Like the standing desk, a treadmill desk combats the health risks associated with being still too long during the day. Walking not only gets you up on your feet, but exercising, too! Talk about multi-tasking! Plus, no more excuses for why you don't have time to exercise.

If you've ever felt that time was simply crawling by as you worked out, you're not alone. But, one woman who put the treadmill desk to the test felt time flew by. She was surprised at how focused she was on her tasks. Unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone.

Cons

Exercise is generally a way to unwind and destress. Combining exercise with work may turn out to be more stressful and become more of a distraction than a productivity booster. Some users may even suffer from motion sickness.

It may take some time for you find the right walking speed for while you're working. Some people found it hard to do more creative tasks while their bodies were busy with walking. And face it, if you're not actually walking while you work, you're not going to use the desk. You'll probably end up sitting while your treadmill desk gathers dust in the corner.

If you're thinking about adding treadmill desks to the office for your employees, there will be additional legal and safety issues that will need to be addressed as well.

Making the Best Decision

This debate really comes down to function, more than anything else. If you're looking for a way to get the blood pumping and exercise while you are working, a treadmill desk is a really great way to do that. But when you're done walking, the treadmill really gets in the way of serious work.

A treadmill desk is a great addition to an office as an additional desk or work area. But if you're considering a treadmill desk as your primary workstation, you may want to rethink that decision. Before you shell out the cash, it'll be worth your time to try one out for a while. More than likely, you will find the treadmill is awesome in small doses.

If your main concern is giving yourself or your employees a healthier option than sitting still for hours and hours while working, then a sit-to-stand desk is probably a better option. It's a great way to overcome the downsides of a standing desk, because you can alternate between sitting and standing every hour or so, making your desk fit the need of the moment. Do yourself a favor and ditch the office chair for a few hours everyday.

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chris-kang

About the author:

Chris is always in pursuit of optimal living, and believes strongly that although "alone you can walk fast, together we can walk far" :)