Standing Desks vs Sitting: Which is Worth it?


    You may not be able to take away the desk from your desk job, but with a standing desk, you can certainly bid farewell to your chair. The surge in demand for these innovative workstations suggests that they might just be as beneficial for our well-being as they are for our productivity. But the question remains the same, are standing desks worth it?

    It’s no secret that the sedentary lifestyle of sitting all day can be draining, but is swapping out your desk the ultimate solution?

    Standing desks gained prominence as a response to the adverse health effects associated with prolonged sitting. Although the initial excitement may have subsided somewhat, standing desks are still on the rise, and countless individuals vouch for their benefits.

    Is the buzz around standing desks truly warranted? In this piece, we’ll delve into the realm of reality and myth surrounding standing desks and endeavor to address a straightforward query: is a standing desk worth it? Or should you opt for a sitting one?

    Where did standing desks come from?

    The concept underpinning standing desks appears logical: as indicated by a comprehensive meta-analysis of research on the subject, prolonged sitting consistently correlates with significantly higher mortality rates. Following this line of reasoning, it seems that standing should offer a solution to this problem, right?

    However, the response to this question is frustratingly ambiguous. One of the reasons it’s challenging to provide a clear answer is because we don’t have a complete understanding of why sitting is so detrimental to our health. We do know that it adversely affects posture, leads to circulation problems, and serves as a significant contributor to obesity (although the latter is more closely associated with lifestyle choices than direct sitting). So, if poor posture and obesity are the primary concerns associated with sitting, can standing desks be considered a viable solution?

    Standing desks won’t help you lose weight

    The truth of the matter is that standing, as it turns out, only marginally outpaces sitting in calorie expenditure – approximately 88 calories per hour in contrast to 80 calories per hour, as demonstrated by one study. This slight increase is unlikely to contribute significantly to your weight loss or weight maintenance objectives.

    Surprisingly, a study revealed that substituting sitting with walking results in a more substantial increase in energy expenditure – roughly 130 additional calories burned. (Hold on a second… should we be considering treadmill desks over standing desks?) The precise number of calories burned per hour during walking varies depending on your body weight and walking pace, but walking, in general, can be a valuable component of weight management, especially when combined with a commitment to a healthy diet.

    Nevertheless, it’s essential to understand that while standing may not dramatically elevate calorie burn compared to sitting, excessive sitting can have a cumulative impact on your health over time, even if you engage in regular exercise.

    Should you consider sit stand desks?

    Sit stand desks may be worth it since you’re alternating between two activities. A sedentary way of life, which involves prolonged sitting, escalates an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by over 90%. One hypothesis behind this association is that extended sitting hinders the body’s ability to efficiently absorb sugar from the bloodstream, thereby leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Over time, these surges in blood sugar can contribute to the development of insulin resistance, a characteristic of type 2 diabetes.

    While the available evidence may not be unequivocal, a particular study did discover that alternating between sitting and standing during an eight-hour workday has modest yet advantageous impacts on post-meal blood sugar regulation. This suggests that investing in a standing desk (and using it for its intended purpose) might have the potential to reduce the risk of diabetes development.

    Effects on orthopedic health

    When it comes to orthopedic well-being, opting for a standing position is undeniably a preferable choice for your posture, back, and neck, as opposed to sitting. Nevertheless, extended periods of standing have their own set of concerns, primarily linked to potential knee discomfort. When taking into account all the distinctive drawbacks of standing desks, research in this realm implies that standing desks, in general, may not necessarily provide superior orthopedic advantages over their seated counterparts.

    However, there are strategies to alleviate some of the drawbacks associated with standing desks. For instance, certain studies have demonstrated that fatigue mats can reduce standing fatigue and alleviate knee strain by up to 60%. Although there may not be conclusive research to firmly support this conclusion, this difference could potentially tip the scales in favor of a standing desk setup when comparing it to its four-legged counterpart.

    So, do you need a standing desk?

    Standing desks have undeniably received an abundance of attention, but many of the purported advantages appear to be somewhat overstated. As the scientific understanding continues to evolve, the current body of research strongly suggests that standing desks may not offer the expected return on investment.

    Conversely, sit-stand desks exhibit some potential, underscoring a fundamental point: the real issue lies not with the desk itself but with the overall workplace structure. It is imperative that we transition away from sedentary office lifestyles and instead foster workplace environments that actively encourage physical activity.

    Irrespective of your desk configuration, there’s a consistently proven method for enhancing your health: walking. Substituting just 2 minutes of sitting with a brief stroll around the office every hour has been shown to reduce the risk of premature death in office workers by an impressive 33 percent.

    Knowing the truth if standing desks are worth it before making a purchase

    While standing desks may not always be worth it and aren’t always the magic solution to all our health woes, they do have their merits, especially when combined with regular movement breaks and other ergonomic enhancements like sit-stand desks and fatigue mats. However, the real transformation lies in reshaping our workplace culture to encourage active lifestyles and prioritize our health.

    So, whether you choose to stand, sit, or incorporate a mix of both, remember that it’s the act of moving, like that quick stroll around the office, which can profoundly impact your well-being. Embrace change, invest in your health, and let’s collectively take a stand – or a seat – for a healthier and more dynamic work environment.