Standing Desks Are 'Fashionable' Without Any Real Benefits, Says Research

Standing Desks Are 'Fashionable' Without Any Real Benefits, Says Research

Standing desks are the latest way to trade comfort for the moral high ground, and their health benefits have always been dubious at best. Following an analysis of studies into their benefits, researchers have come up with a loud, resounding "meh". A paper in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews analysed 20 studies that looked into the effectiveness of trying to reduce sitting time at work. The results aren't flattering to the standing desk trend: not only do standing desks barely reduce the amount of time that people spend sitting at work, but any reduction has barely any health benefits.

Across the studies, the team found systematic flaws with the methodology, either in a lack of controls, randomisation or only using six-month time periods that are far too short.

A more robust cohort study, tracking health data from 5132 people over 16 years, backs up this conclusion: researchers found that the amount of time sitting at work had no effect on mortality rate, and that other, more conventional methods like going for a jog are far more effective.

Dr Jos Verbeek, one of the health researchers involved in the meta-analysis, told NPR that standing desks are "very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health".

So, if you want to lead a healthier life, go get a nice comfy chair, ingest a ton of coffee, burn the fitness tracker and maybe just walk to work instead.

[NPR]


Comments

    meh - couldn't have put it better myself :)

    I want a standing desk only because my physio tells me that I should be stretching my legs out more often (eccentric phase of hamstrings). Apparently heavy squats and deadlifts followed by long periods of setting does bad things for hamstring length and as a martial artist outside work hours, it's really starting to become a problem. Other than that, everything I've read on the topic points to meh :)

    I say Bollocks! I have used a standing desk for 2 years now. Stand for 80% of my computer time ever since. No more lower back pain, no more hemorrhoid irritation. Less of an afternoon tiredness. Dozens of colleagues agree. My company don't want employees getting these because of the cost. I suspect there is similar motivation behind this latest study... just saying...

    Bullshit!
    I've been using mine for years and I can say unequivocally that it is well worth using.
    Before I started using it my lower back and legs hurt like a bastard, haven't had a problem since. When I first started using it I got fatigued because I was constantly moving and adjusting my stance, but now I can stand all day without an issue. These people should do a proper study with people who are dedicated to improving their health and not people who are simply stand-ins. I couldn't go back to sitting now if I tried.

    They are supposed to be good for your back, this has nothing to do with mortality rates. :/ What an odd survey to write something off as not having health benefits because you don't die younger.

    not only do standing desks barely reduce the amount of time that people spend sitting at work
    I don't understand this. I went from sitting for 6 hours a day to not sitting at all for 6 hours.
    How does standing at your desk not reduce the amount of time siting at work?

    I have no idea if standing desks offer any fitness benefits, but surely they reduce the amount of time sitting, purely by definition?

      Some standing desks allow people to raise and lower their desk. Mine does. The trick, and why I think this may be an unreasonably biased report, is that people need to listen to their bodies. Basically, I get sick of sitting and I stand, I get sick of standing, and I sit. If all I had was a sitting desk, I wouldn't be able to stand. In fact, I know this to be true. I had a sitting desk for many years.

      There is also the benefit of, if I am standing, there's a good chance I may just walk around a bit if I need to think. Whereas, if I am sitting, I will just slouch.... Plus, my back is stronger, and there's the benefit of me being able to feel superior to all my friends who have to sit at their desks XD

    I commute by bicycle and stand at work. To date I haven't had a flare up from a bulging lumbar disc since I got my new workstation, which is approx 7 months now.
    Hot tip: if you suffer lower back pain from a pre existing injury, I can honestly say standing at work will help prevent future recurrances.

    they are only good if you move about while standing and changing how you stand every so often. standing in one spot for extended periods is no different to sitting for extended periods.
    also doing extra core strengthening exercises helps with your posture and helps get rid of back pain too (dependent on the reason for the back pain of course, most cases though just due to weak core)

    It was a Cochrane review. Pretty much the Gold standard of research papers using the most rigorous assessments and techniques. Cochran will also examines the quality of the articles that they look at to determine and try to remove any biases that you allege. If they say meh , then it really truly means that.

    As to your evidence, you are applying one person's experience and saying that is more scientifically important than reviews that include large n numbers which is never going to be a plausible argument.

    Even if it has no effect either way on your lifespan, sitting for hours in a soft squidgy office chair just feels like absolute shit, for some people. If sitting causes you back pain - as it does for quite a few people - and standing doesn't, then a standing desk is better, end of story.

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