The idea of gaming standing up might seem strange, but it’s something that people have done since the days of video game arcades. Home consoles and gaming computers allowed us to sit down to enjoy our video games with added comfort. But was it to our detriment? Now that standing desks have grown in popularity, gamers are starting experiment again with standing gaming.
Having tried gaming standing up for a couple of months and ultimately switching back, I’ve collected my experiences and condensed them into a few good reasons to try it, and also a few reasons it might not be worth your time.
Reasons to Try Gaming Standing Up
1. It Promotes More Movement
In a chair, your movement options are limited to sitting, slouching, and fidgeting. This problem is exacerbated by “gamer chairs” based on bucket seats that race drivers use, meant to hold a body firmly in place. They promote staying in one place for a long time which can cause discomfort during long gaming sessions.
While standing, you tend to move around and be a little more active. You can easily walk away from your desk, and you can stretch without having to get off your chair. It’s a lot easier to disengage from your desk at a moment’s notice which can be convenient for things like making a drink, chatting with people, or answering the door.
Being able to move around freely with a standing desk was a surprising change. I used to think that a standing desk meant staying in place while gaming or working, but it offers you a lot of freedom. I found it easier to stay hydrated since I could easily run off between loading times to refill my drink, and my legs and back didn’t feel stiff and tired after a long gaming session.
2. You “Could” Burn More Calories
One of the biggest draws to standing desks is the presumption that you can burn more calories standing than sitting because it uses more energy. But how much truth is there to this claim?
According to a study published in 2016, standing burns eight more calories per hour than sitting. This might not seem a lot, but these were controlled tests that used oxygen consumption as a measure of how many calories they burned while standing still. Standing while playing video games usually doesn’t mean you’ll be in one place the whole time. You’re more likely to stretch, fidget, and walk around the room. These actions lead to more energy expenditure which means more calories burned.
While I didn’t track how long I spent standing or how many calories I could’ve burned, there’s no denying that I did feel more active when gaming standing up. Whether this translates to weight loss or not is difficult to determine since there are so many factors that could affect it. In short, using a standing gaming desk won’t make you fit, but it does create more opportunities to burn calories.
3. It Naturally Limits Your Playtime
It’s normal for gamers to get absorbed into a game and forget how much time has passed. Standing desks can help alleviate this by naturally limiting your playtime because of the added effort and energy it takes to stand. This is especially true if you’re not accustomed to gaming standing up yet.
This was the case for me as someone that spends most of their day sitting down either for work or gaming. Standing for long periods of time was a challenge at first and I needed to take constant breaks during my gaming sessions. But as time went on, it was easier to focus on the game instead of my body.
When I built this resistance, I made it a goal to switch between standing and sitting during my sessions. I would sit down to play a few matches of Apex and then switch to standing after an hour or two. When I took a break to get a drink, I’d come back and sit down to play. It seems like a lot of effort to switch around all the time, but it really makes you take notice of how long you spend playing games.
4. It May Improve Your Posture
Lastly, a stand up desk can help alleviate posture-related issues associated with gaming. Forward head posture (FHP), also known as gamer neck, is a common long-term symptom of prolonged bending toward a computer screen. This occurs when your skull rests several inches in front of the cervical spine. It can result in problems such as shoulder pain, neck pain, and even tension headaches. FHP typically occurs as a result of neglecting your posture while gaming or using a computer.
When paired with an adjustable monitor stand or arm, standing desks can encourage you to maintain a healthy posture. By bringing your monitor up to eye level, you can avoid neck strain since you won’t be looking down at it. Standing can also remove bad habits such as slouching in your chair which can cause extra strain on your muscles, leading to tension, lower back pain, or even pinched nerves.
Since I spend a lot of time sitting for work, I’m already conscious of my posture and will take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch. If you’re in the same boat, a standing desk might not help much with your posture. But if you spend a lot of time slouching in a chair and want to force yourself out of that habit, a standing desk can be a great help.
Reasons to Avoid Gaming Standing Up
1. It Probably Won’t Help You Play Better
Some studies try to correlate the use of standing desks with increased cognitive performance and task engagement. However, these findings are difficult to apply in a practical scenario because there are many factors that determine the skill and performance of a player.
Unfortunately, switching to a standing desk is more likely to introduce problems that take your focus off the game. During the first week, I felt soreness in my legs and aches in my feet that made gaming an unsatisfying experience at best. While I eventually adjusted to standing while playing games, switching to a standing desk didn’t exactly improve my gaming ability. More practice and better gaming hardware would have a much bigger impact than standing.
2. A Standing Gaming Setup Can Be Expensive
Electric standing desks can easily cost hundreds of dollars, and they’re even more expensive if you value high quality desk materials. You could even go all-out on a standing gaming setup with an adjustable standing desk PC. Thankfully, options like the ErGear Standing Desk Converter exist that allow you to try out gaming standing up without committing to a new desk.
Aside from the desk however, there are also other costs to consider. You may also need to make additional purchases in the name of cable management. Having your PC on your desk and running all power cables to a surge protector mounted on the underside of your desktop is probably the most ideal and cost effective solution here. But it requires some effort to set up. Check out our full guide on desk cable management for more details.
I personally decided to keep my PC on the floor. This meant that I had to purchase some longer display and power cables in addition to a small powered USB hub to plug in all of my devices. In total, the cable management accessories didn’t set me back too far, but it all added up including the investment for the standing desk itself.
3. There’s an Adjustment Period
Adjusting to a standing desk takes time and you should expect it to initially affect your gaming performance. You’ll likely get distracted by the discomfort in your feet and legs, take time to find the right desk height, and feel the need to take breaks frequently.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is discipline. It’s easy to feel tired and sore and let it negatively impact your gaming performance. This can tempt you to just sit down while playing, especially if you have a desk that is easy to adjust.
Personally, I found myself constantly giving in and sitting down during the first week after switching. On week two, the aches and pains subsided and it began to feel natural to start my gaming session standing. But it took conscious effort to build the habit.
4. A Workout Offers More Benefits
If you’re looking to improve your health, it may be wiser to alter other areas of your lifestyle instead of your gaming sessions. A short workout each day or meaningful changes to your diet will lead to better health improvements than just switching to a standing desk for gaming.
Gaming should be something that you enjoy in your free time. It’s a fun activity that you can indulge in without having to worry about things like fitness and calories. If you mix it with idle activity with the intention of burning calories, then it could diminish your gaming experience.
And this was ultimately what convinced me to switch back to mostly sitting while PC gaming. A short workout in the evening and other healthy changes to my lifestyle would have a much bigger impact while not affecting the time I spend gaming.
While I initially tried a standing desk for the supposed health benefits, I now switch between sitting and standing whenever I feel like it. Sometimes I’ll stand up to stretch my legs and move around a bit while playing something laid back, but other times I’ll sit down to focus on a competitive shooter.
But aside from the health benefits, there are plenty of other benefits to be had. Just don’t invest in a standing setup expecting to see immediate health benefits or improvements to your gameplay. As long as you have realistic expectations, gaming standing up can be a great alternative setup to try out. A basic adjustable standing desk isn’t too expensive these days, so it’s more accessible than you might think.
But if the idea of investing in a standing setup and changing your routine sounds like a lot of work, then you’re not missing out on much. It’s not a revolutionary way to play games and there are other efficient ways to squeeze a bit of exercise and fitness into your day.