Much has been written recently on the health-risks of sitting all day at work. Not only is this bad for joints, muscle and posture; but also creates an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Many workers are now opting for a stand-up or adjustable desk in hopes of off-setting the negative consequences of prolonged sitting. While common sense dictates this might be better, the jury is still out on the health benefits of standing at work all day.
According to an analysis published Wednesday of 20 of the best studies done so far, there's little evidence that workplace interventions like the sit-stand desk or even the flashier pedaling or treadmill desks will help you burn lots more calories, or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end. "What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health," says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. Verbeek says that the studies he and his co-authors analyzed came to conflicting conclusions about whether sit-stand desks reduce sitting time. Even the best research available wasn't great, the researchers write in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The studies were either too small to be significant, the scientists say, or were poorly designed. For example, most were not randomized controlled trials, and the longest study followed participants for only six months. In fact, there isn't really any evidence that standing is better than sitting, Verbeek adds. The extra calories you burn from standing over sitting for a day are barely enough to cover a couple of banana chips.
While some individuals may have specific needs to utilize a standing desk over a chair the best health advice is really to just get up and move. An Australian study indicates that even taking a one minute break every hour to stand up and walk around decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health complications. Throw in a few stretches of some light exercise and you can also significant improve your posture as well as decrease back and neck pain.