Sit-Stand Desks: Are They Beneficial?

There was a time when standing desks were more of a curiosity rather than a normalcy.  That has changed in recent years due largely in part to the increased research on the impact of sitting for long periods of time, including obesity, heart disease, and cancer.  The average office worker spends five hours and 41 minutes sitting each day at his or her desk.  Ironically, several new studies say it also doesn’t matter if you go running every morning… if you are sitting in your office chair, you are putting yourself at increased health risks.

On the other hand, new research from the University of Iowa found workers who use sit-stand desks stand for 60 more minutes and burn 87 more calories per day than workers who use traditional desks.

Researchers examined 69 workers – 38 who used sitting desks and 31 who used sit-stand desks – during five days at office jobs. Participants wore a monitor to track their movement and body positions. On average, participants who used sit-stand desks had them for nearly two years.

Workers with sit-stand desks stood more and sat less than the other workers, researchers found. Sit-stand desk users walked six more minutes per workday and continued to stand more after the desks became familiar.

Although the two groups had no differences in weight, blood pressure and heart rate, and percent body fat, “standing at work could be one piece of an individual’s larger health plan that also includes healthy eating and physical activity,” said Dr. Lucas Carr, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Health and Human Physiology. Carr added that research is needed to study how replacing sitting with standing affects cardio metabolic and musculoskeletal health.

The study was published online Oct. 1 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.