Many research studies have investigated the negative impacts of time spent sedentary, such as when sitting. However many of us find ourselves with no choice but to sit for prolonged periods of time, such as when driving and working at a desk.
Since many studies have reported the negative impacts of sitting on health and the importance of becoming more active, standing workstations have become more common, allowing individuals to work standing up.
A recent study investigated whether sit-stand desks (which adjust from sitting to standing height as required) could reduce sitting time in 28 sedentary office workers, by giving them a goal of gradually replacing 50% of sitting time with standing during a 4 week intervention period. They found the desks to reduce sitting time at work by 21%, which during a working week accumulated to replacing 8 hours of sitting time with standing. However activity levels outside of working hours did not change.
As well reducing sitting time, during the intervention the participants’ reported overall wellbeing and energy levels to increase whilst tiredness and sluggishness decreased, although productivity remained the same. After the study, almost all participants chose to keep the sit-stand desks, enjoying the flexibility to be able to sit or stand whilst working.
Although the study was short term and may have resulted in some inaccurate data due to potential errors detecting periods of sitting and standing, it suggests that standing workstations in an office environment may help to reduce sedentary time and also improve wellbeing.
As a regular user of a standing desk myself, I think they are a great addition to the workplace, especially considering the low activity levels of the general population and the amount of back pain caused from prolonged sitting and unsuitable desks and chairs. In some cases employers may have to make adjustments to workstations, however in the future I hope to see many more employers choosing to provide standing workstations to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.
Adie Blanchard – Researcher
Dutta, N., Koepp, G. A., Stovitz, S. D., Levine, J. A., & Pereira, M. A. (2014). Using Sit-Stand Workstations to Decrease Sedentary Time in Office Workers: A Randomized Crossover Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(7), 6653-6665.