Is a Standing Desk the Answer to My Sitting Problems?


The most common recommendation we give clients in regards to their health is to sit less and move more. Research abounds in regards to the negative effects of sitting ( we wrote more about that here – The Cure for the “Sitting Disease” )

Since about 85% of people sit all day at work, the question we get back is “should I get a standing desk?”

If possible, this is a great idea to get off your backside to improve posture and muscle balance. Studies even indicate that standing improves creative problem solving as compared to sitting at a desk. The problem arises when we turn to just standing instead of sitting.

The journal Ergonomics published recent research that found standing at a desk increased lower leg swelling and decreased mental state over a 2 hour period. This doesn’t mean that the standing desk is all bad, just that the time in this position should be limited as well.

Healthy Ways to Move at Work

The key to optimal health in the workplace is likely changing positions often. Remember, the recommendation was to move more, not just stand in one place. We have to figure out ways to get more movement throughout our day.

An easy way to do this is to set a timer and move at least every hour. Options for work positions include sitting on an office chair, standing at your desk, sitting on an exercise ball, sitting on a high stool or even standing with one foot propped up on a foot stool instead of having two feet on the ground.

Ideally, some of these movement breaks should also involve moving beyond your desk. Ideas include, taking a walk, going up a flight of stairs, stepping outside for some fresh air, getting on the floor and foam rolling, or even doing some wall push ups and mini squats in your office.

What Most People Actually Do

Unfortunately, most office workers don’t make a conscious effort to move throughout the day. They tell me that they stop at the gym on the way home from work, but this doesn’t undo the damage of a day at your desk. In fact, one study found that the amount of time spent sitting is directly correlated with early death, even in those individuals who exercise regularly.

So, the answer to the standing desk question is YES. The standing desk is part of the solution to the sitting problem, but it needs to be apart of a grander plan to move more throughout your work day.

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