Trends are frequent in the health world, but one that seems like it will be sticking around is Sit-Stand Workstations. Adjustable standing desks are being found more frequently in offices, colleges, and even grade school classrooms. In fact, I’m writing this from a standing desk now! These desks allow the user to change the height of their desk to transition between sitting and standing as desired. Sit-Stand Workstations have been introduced to limit the amount of time that office employees and students have to sit. Sitting has been linked to numerous chronic health conditions including high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Mayo Clinic reports that sitting for more than eight hours can contribute to an increased risk of an obesity related death if not supplemented with physical activity. Sit-Stand Workstations intend to tackle this issue, but some worry there may be unintended consequences of standing for long periods of time as well.
Some studies suggest that standing does not burn significant additional calories or that you may develop increased pain through a standing desk. These studies do provide data to support their findings, but it is critical to understand the benefits and potential side effects of a standing desk for your specific needs. Those who perform fine motor tasks may find that a standing desk decreases their ability to accurately perform. Others who have previously been living a very sedentary life may find they develop back or foot pain without a slow introduction to standing desks. If following the recommended guidelines of introducing standing desks in 30-minute increments throughout a few days, though, the risk of increased pain is severely decreased. In fact, with slow introduction for those who live sedentary lives or for those who are active, standing desks can ultimately be incredibly beneficial and even decrease back pain. They are not going to dramatically slim your waist or make you drop ten pounds in a month, but they can boost your overall wellness.
A randomized trial conducted by Stanford looked at office employees who self-reported various levels of chronic back pain. In those who used a standing desk for a 3-month period, levels of pain were significantly decreased. Another review examined over 47 other studies to build a broad outlook on the effectiveness of Sit-Stand Workstations. It was determined that standing desks do mildly effect health outcomes and effectively contribute to behavioral changes. Though the effects were minimal when it came to productivity, it was determined that 22 of the studies relating to discomfort indicated significantly important results. As we continue to study the effects of sitting and standing on human health, more data will arise to demonstrate the importance of either option and the health benefits.
Overall, a Sit-Stand Workstation is not a bad investment. You can potentially improve back pain, burn a few more calories, and work on your posture. Though the benefits may not be astounding and groundbreaking, there are enough to prove significant value. Getting a few extra moments standing and walking around in your day can benefit your overall wellness, and it’s a break from the monotony of sitting. Do you use a standing desk in your office or school? Let us know in the comments below!
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