25 September 2017

Sitting Down on the Job

I’m standing at my desk as I type this post. When I’m done, Jeff will review it from the comfort of his chair.

We get along well here at Rowland Creative, but there’s an ongoing argument about whether standing desks are beneficial or just trendy. Being scientifically minded (and each determined to win the argument) we decided to investigate.

Sitting for too long is unhealthy. We’ve known that for a while. Sedentary lifestyles, including sitting for prolonged periods at work, are related to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and various forms of cancer. Of course, correlation does not equal cause. But while studies of sitting disagree about the degree of risk, most do show that there are negative health risks from too much sitting.

Standing for too long? Also unhealthy. Circulatory problems like varicose veins can be complicated by the pressure of too much standing. Joint stress and back problems may be made better or worse by standing.

Sitting, standing, and weight loss. Most important, for people who are standing as a way to lose weight, it’s important to note that the small calorie burn from standing probably won’t have a huge impact on overall weight loss. Early studies of standing desks implied that it was easy to burn hundreds of extra calories a day, just by standing. More recent research has shown a significantly smaller effect.

Ultimately, the health benefits of standing desks probably won’t make up for that extra handful of M&Ms from the office candy dispenser. But for people like Rebecca who concentrate better if they can move around and stretch, they’re a great way to keep mentally engaged at work.

(And yes, Jeff, as the author of this post, I get the last word.)