Standing Desks: Fashion Over Function?

Ever since the first “standing” desks began appearing in the workplace in the mid 2000s, ergonomic experts have been debating the advantages they ostensibly bring to users.

Now, in a blow that could force even the most strident standing-desk supporter to sit down and re-evaluate his or her stand (puns clearly intended) on the issue, new meta-research finds there’s not a whole lot of science to back up the claims that using such desks are any better for you than traditional sit-down desks.

This recent analysis of 20 of the “best” studies done so far finds scant evidence that workplace interventions such as the sit-stand desk, the pedaling desk or even the treadmill desk will help you burn more calories or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end.

“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

“At present,” the study’s authors conclude, “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.”

The authors instead call for “cluster-randomized trials” with a sufficient sample size and long-term follow-up to determine the effectiveness of different types of interventions to reduce objectively measured sitting time at work.

Tip of the hat to NPR for posting this.