If you are like 80 percent of American workers, you are spending most of your day sitting. Which comes along with a slew of health problems, like renal failure, obesity, and reduced life expectancy. The standing desk is one solution to get us up and moving. It is fashionable, to be sure, but despite a series of studies, scientists have not been able to definitively conclude whether standing desk are actually beneficial to human health. Now a research team has sifted through a number of studies that evaluated the.ffects of various interventions designed to get workers on their legs, compared to no interventions.
In their paper, published a week ago in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, they conclude that the evidence supporting the healthful effects of utilizing a standing desk is weak. The team looked at 20 studies, all of which were variations on a randomized controlled trial. Some looked like the physical changes to the working environment, workplace policies, and giving workers more info regarding the harms of sitting changed how much time they spent standing, both in self reports and objective measurements. Standing desks are not that effective for a few numerous reasons. One, the researchers found, is that individuals who use sit stand desks only stand for up to 2 hours a day.
There is not much evidence in the medical literature to suggest that such limited time standing can reverse the effects of a mostly sedentary lifestyle in the long run. Other efforts to get workers to be less sedentary, like walking breaks or pedal desks, did not change the period of time workers spent sitting, while some interventions like treadmill machine desks and computer prompting software did increase the period of time they spent standing. Mainly the evidence put forth in the studies was simply weak. A lot of the studies were poorly designed, with too few participants or that did not follow up with them to document the health effects with time. There’s a need for cluster randomized trials with a sufficient sample size and long term follow-up to determine the effectiveness of several types of interventions to reduce objectively measured sitting time at work, the researchers write. These results are in line with those from a comparable review published last year.