Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
The Almighty Buck Science

Standing Desks May Not Be Healthier Than Sitting All Day, Say Scientists (fortune.com) 134

An anonymous reader writes from a Fortune article: Standing desks are the fashionable furniture of choice at the moment, but they may not really be the healthier alternative to, well, a chair. A review of studies into the benefits of "workplace interventions" to reduce sitting at work, such as sit-stand desks, are inconclusive, according to researchers from a Cochrane work group. That's because there's little evidence of the long-term effects of standing at your desk. "At present there is very low to low-quality evidence that sit-stand desks may decrease workplace sitting between thirty minutes to two hours per day without having adverse effects at the short or medium term," scientists wrote in an updated Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews study released this week.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Standing Desks May Not Be Healthier Than Sitting All Day, Say Scientists

Comments Filter:
  • Okay, so the next piece of fashionable furniture will be the jogging desk.

  • Yeah, sure (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    After switching to standing, my lower back pain disappeared. There's my conclusive anecdote to their inconclusive data!

    • by geeper ( 883542 )
      My back pain disappeared after getting a new chair.
    • Yes this was true for me as well. It also has improved my posture and my arm pains subsided. I think moderation is what's important. Try not to be in the same position for hours upon end.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Objectively, my standing desk has a cumulative and measurable effect on my blood glucose levels.

    Subjectively, my increased blood flow and better BG levels make me feel more alert and more productive, and knowing that my employer is willing to invest in me as a real human being does wonders.

  • When I sit, my back and neck hurt because I slouch when I'm concentrating. When I stand, my back and legs hurt because I slouch when I'm concentrating.

    On my treadmill desk, I never slouch, it's impossible to slouch while walking but it doesn't hurt concentration. So that's the ideal setting for me.

    Instead of a sit-stand, I have an HDMI splitter and a wireless keyboard. Monitor at a sitting desk, monitor at the treadmill desk, they show the same thing, just move between them if I have to sit but I haven't us

    • it's impossible to slouch while walking

      Have you ever met a teenager?!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        it's impossible to slouch while walking

        Have you ever met a teenager?!

        That's not the point. It's impossible to slouch while walking because as soon as you do you are no longer walking, you're skulking.

    • by dkman ( 863999 )
      This is essentially what i came to say. My chiropractor will tell you that the standing desk certainly works for me. When I first got it I set it at a height and never sat down again. I've actually raised it a few increments because I was standing straighter.
      I don't have a treadmill though. I've thought about it, but I feel that the noise would annoy me.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I stopped reading at "my chiropractor will tell you"

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:08PM (#51724887) Homepage

      And yet I can guarantee you will find several studies that tell you that the straight-back position, even in a standard chair, is probably bad for you.

      In fact, it's recommended to have a small curve in your back when sitting in even a normal chair, i.e. slouch down slightly.

      I only hurt when asked to "correct posture" sit... that's just uncomfortable, and things that hurt often hurt for a reason. Maybe my body is taller/shorter/less weighty or whatever, and that's why it hurts to sit straight (despite DECADES of teachers, parents, employers, telling me to do so), and yet a slight slouch is perfectly comfortable. Maybe yours differs because of others factors.

      Maybe, just maybe, there's no one right answer beyond "stop doing whatever hurts for you", and that telling people how to sit, lay, eat, write, or anything else is just people imposing THEIR body response on everyone in the world.

      As I speak, I have a 4-inch gap between my butt and the actual back of the chair. It doesn't hurt at all and I can maintain that for hours with zero effort.

      On a similar note, I deploy IT in schools and, especially with little kids, NOT ONE PERSON has ever questioned that I put the mice on the right-hand side. Nobody moves them to the left. Ever. Even left-handers. They are free to, I just set them up to the right, and I'm bound by workplace regulations on how much elbow-room must be on both sides so it's not that either. But nobody ever switches hands. Until you point it out. Then even the left-handers find it uncomfortable.

      Maybe, unless someone is complaining about it hurting or feeling wrong, there's not a problem to solve. And when they do complain, forcing other people to do something uncomfortable for them for the sake of everyone doing the same thing is just stupid.

  • by Shawn Willden ( 2914343 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:00PM (#51724765)

    Health effects, whatever. I feel better when I can change positions every now and then. Sitting all day leaves me feeling tired and my back gets sore (yes, I've tried lots of different chairs). With a sit/stand desk I change positions every hour or two, switching between standing, sitting on a moderately-ergonomic desk chair and sitting on an exercise ball. The latter is actually fairly hard work to sustain for a long time, but I think my core has gotten stronger for doing it. Standing eventually makes my feet hurt. No one position is ideal, but changing it up seems to work great.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Aeron chairs.... I could sit for hourrsssssss....

      • Yup- these chairs really help. I also like that in the summer the mesh backs don't trap heat and moisture.
    • Couldn't have said it better myself.

      /sarcasm Gee, who knew that the balance of 2 extremes was the key.

    • Health effects, whatever. I feel better when I can change positions every now and then. Sitting all day leaves me feeling tired and my back gets sore (yes, I've tried lots of different chairs). With a sit/stand desk I change positions every hour or two, switching between standing, sitting on a moderately-ergonomic desk chair and sitting on an exercise ball. The latter is actually fairly hard work to sustain for a long time, but I think my core has gotten stronger for doing it. Standing eventually makes my feet hurt. No one position is ideal, but changing it up seems to work great.

      My experience is identical, although I have rarely used the exercise ball. I had serious back problems a few years ago, and still find it gets very stiff and close to dangerous territory if sitting for more than 1/2 hour or so - but it's so nice not to be pulled away from work that I'm focused on when the back tells me "you have to move now". Just push a couple buttons, now I'm standing and still comfortably typing and looking at my screen.

      I needed a doctor's note to get the standing desk, because from

  • Standing desk (Score:2, Insightful)

    by p51d007 ( 656414 )
    Anyone get the idea that this whole "health" idea of the standing desk was invented by IKEA, or other office furniture manufacturer?
    • In previous Slashdot articles on the topic, I found it suspicious that there was suddenly so many articles in the news that were like "sitting kills you, as bad as smoking". I said that standing desk makers must love the trend.

      I got a bunch of angry replies, saying that I am ignorant for not believing the scientific evidence.

  • by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:02PM (#51724795) Homepage

    I know that I have been sitting behind a computer screen for about 30 years of my life, and that now I suffer from chronic back pain. So, at home I switched to a standing desk, and at least on the weekends I have some relief.

    I'll stop by in another 30 years and let you know how I've made out.

  • Typical (Score:5, Funny)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:08PM (#51724889)
    Big Chair, buying off scientists yet again.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I simply lay back in my chair with my neck on the back and my legs straight out so everything is in a line like im standing, but i'm sitting!

  • I am really tired of all the conditional studies. Wake me when someone discovers something that can state, and not hedge they findings in conditionals.

    • Agree. I'm waiting for a study with the headline "water may not be wet".
    • It's a subtle variation on Betteridge's law. People have started to see through sensationalist headlines like "Is drinking water actually bad for you?", so the clickbaity editors switch to "Drinking water might actually be bad for you" instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The study was about whether standing desks decrease sitting time.

    It does _not_ discuss whether decreased sitting time improves health, but it does say in the second sentence of the abstract:

    "Physical inactivity at workplaces and particularly increased sitting has been linked to increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and overall mortality."

    Sigh.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:18PM (#51725029)

    The review article is not evaluating the health benefits of sit/stand. It's about whether an employee actually sits less if they have a sit/stand desk (or just uses it as an expensive sitting desk). The review says that it doesn't reduce sitting time by very much, which has nothing to do with health. In fact, the review article accepts the health benefits as a given: "Physical inactivity at workplaces and particularly increased sitting has been linked to increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and overall mortality."

    Don't draw any conclusions from the Fortune article. The Fortune author obviously has a bias, and is trying to support his point of view using an article that, in fact, contradicts him.

    • The review article is not evaluating the health benefits of sit/stand. It's about whether an employee actually sits less if they have a sit/stand desk (or just uses it as an expensive sitting desk). The review says that it doesn't reduce sitting time by very much, which has nothing to do with health. In fact, the review article accepts the health benefits as a given: "Physical inactivity at workplaces and particularly increased sitting has been linked to increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and overall mortality."

      Don't draw any conclusions from the Fortune article. The Fortune author obviously has a bias, and is trying to support his point of view using an article that, in fact, contradicts him.

      I can see it now:

      Furniture manufacturers will sell even more expensive sit/stand desks in the future.
      The new desks go up and down automatically to force you to stand.

      Along with this will come a mandatory consultation session with an ergonomics "expert" for each user, intrusive monitoring software that is Windows only, doesn't really work, and requires an onerous client/server model so usage and spyi..uh "tracking" stats can be phoned home. Graphs will be sold to your own HR department and to your health in

      • The new desks go up and down automatically to force you to stand.

        Or just get one of the Ikea standing desks, raise it up and leave it like that for a week, that's about how long it takes for the motor to stop working and leave it as an un-adjustable standing desk...

  • by 26199 ( 577806 ) * on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:20PM (#51725043) Homepage

    If you actually read it, the study is about whether standing desks reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.

    It doesn't say anything about whether sitting is bad except in the "background" section, which says "Physical inactivity at workplaces and particularly increased sitting has been linked to increase in cardiovascular disease, obesity and overall mortality."

    So, pretty much the opposite of what the article is implying.

    • by jasnw ( 1913892 )

      Exactly. The only solid bottom line is that there haven't been enough well-design studies to know anything other than the efforts looked at by these faulty studies didn't appear to reduce sitting time. Sounds like a paper that's setting up for a proposal to do a good study (I've been in that business, and that's how it works).

      I do a sit/stand regimen and it has helped with back and should pain. Gains made take time, which makes it hard to study without a long-term effort, which requires funding to suppor

    • To be fair, the article is not intended to be a review of a particular study. It is meant to be an opinion piece that draws from several studies, including one that states that standing desks don't result in much added standing time on average, and another that states that prolonged standing itself can be damaging to a person's veins. The author's point is not that sitting for 8 hours is good, but that standing desks are not the panacea to solve all of the problems from sitting all day. And it kind of makes

  • A) Studies have shown that sitting is bad for you.
    B) Studies have failed to show that standing is good for you.

    Taken together this is pretty solid evidence that (A) is confounded in some way.

    • I cant sit, I cant stand, like in school, I need to walk from time to time. Else I get crazy. Anyway, my bosses always dislike me for this the same way my teacher did not like me skipping classes.

      I don't understand how people can stand being like rats at their jobs. It is clear activity is needed. And my job is coding, therefore thinking, and I think better while breathing, watching, walking looking the sky and the birds.

      People are reproducing the bad habits learned at school forgetting their own self inter

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I take 3 walks a day: once in the morning, once for lunch, and once in the afternoon. I get around 12k steps in total. I always come back refreshed and ready to tackle another 2-3 hours of office shit.

    Then again, it could also be the 200-300mg of caffeine I ingest at the coffee shop I walk to.

    • I take 3 walks a day: once in the morning, once for lunch, and once in the afternoon. I get around 12k steps in total. I always come back refreshed and ready to tackle another 2-3 hours of office shit.

      Then again, it could also be the 200-300mg of caffeine I ingest at the coffee shop I walk to.

      For most American office slaves, every walk would simply be an enticing opportunity to not walk back to the desk. Can't have the peons seeing sunlight or breathing fresh air.

  • I wanted a sit/stand desk at work because my knees hurt when I sit all day. My desk is too high (can't be lowered) so my chair has to be at highest and then my legs don't reach the ground. Yeah, I have one of those foot rest things, but unconsciously always move my feet onto the desk legsand this causes strain on my knees.

    The company sent out an expert in ergonomics to do an assessment and I got a Varidesk that I can raise and lower as I need. The recommondation was to neither sit nor stand all day, bu
  • Psudeo Science debunked again.... Honestly all this crap is just a bunch of jocks trying to convince themselves that the desk is making them fat and not the fact that they are half-assing their workout.

  • No, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by God of Lemmings ( 455435 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @02:13PM (#51725695)
    I'm certain that it isn't healthier than sitting because both my father and my uncle worked 40 hours per week standing through their life, and both needed knee double replacement after retirement. Moving around is the correct action. Not standing nor sitting all day.
  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @02:34PM (#51725939)
  • They work. Not only prevent bad posture, people will listen to your rantings while bouncing rhythmically at the tempo of the mood.

    • by xombo ( 628858 )

      I found that they don't help me in the posture department because I had to shift so much weight forward in order to balance myself.

    • I used one for several years, but it isn't a panacea. The important thing for any chair is that once you start slouching it can really be damaging.

      Now I stand 90% on a good day due to a couple bulged disks. The other 10% is generally split between sitting and laying on the floor in my office.

      Up shots of standing: I do burn substantially more calories, back doesn't hurt as much, reduces length of meetings.

      Cons: for me, substantially reduced focus, does not actually improve my situation (just keeps it from g

  • The article from Fortune is total click bait. "Standing could even be bad for you." Okay... then should there be a push to have people sit MORE at jobs where they're on their feet for 10-14 hours a day? Ultimately what they're seeing is either way the results are inconclusive because the studies aren't very controlled. People should try it themselves and see if it does good things for them.
  • I posted about this last year, here https://ask.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org]

    The summary version is this:
    - Sitting too much is associated with certain health risks that take a long time to appear and are common with a sedentary lifestyle (so may not be caused only by sitting)
    - Standing too much is associated with certain health risks that occur fairly rapidly (relative to sitting)
    - We don't really know how much standing is enough to ward off the dangers of sitting,

  • I'm lying down on the job. It's the only safe alternative. And now I have studies to back me up what the boss asks.

  • Obviously everyone's work conditions are different but in my situation I have my desk that I sit at then my workbench where I stand and work. If I need to do detailed work at the bench I have a stool so I'm not slouched over for hours working on something difficult but moving about is the key to feeling good.

    I realize some jobs you're stuck in front of that screen for the whole day so I don't know how to help that but placing your tasks in different locations so you move around is the key to not feeling a
  • Standing at a desk you look like a dork. Just don't do it. Anyway, standing 8 plus hours a day is torture. I did it for three years not through choice.
  • How did the bread and water vending machines work out, or are they still being evaluated?
  • Standing desks. They're going to be pretty cheap in a few years; around the same time hipsters realise their stupid hairstyles are as dated and embarrassing as mullets.

  • The value of standing desks 'depends".

    Mainly, people should just take a 5 minute hard break every hour. Standing is great as an alternative to sitting. And sitting is great as an alternative to standing. I wouldn't do more than a couple hours in either position unless one of those positions is painful.

    The main issue I see with standing desks is frozen butt muscles (maximus mostly). This produces a sharp threatening pain. The quadratus lumborum causes more of a dull ache.

    Standing or sitting- doesn't mat

  • ... the problem is not standing or sitting, it's work ...

  • I tried a standing desk for 6 months. Got nerve compression issues in my feet, and had to go back to sitting. The reality is that the human body was not designed to be in one position (any position) all day long.
  • Back in the day I used to be a cubical worker bee but I would never sit for hours on end. You have to get up and mill about every so often. You have to get up and make your way to the water cooler just because. One thing you can do is instead of pinging someone with Same Time or MS Lync you should walk over to their desk and if they are a couple floors above you use the stairs and get some exercise. I work remote now so I have to use the tools given me. I always like the face to face interactions with

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.

Working...