Forget The Standing Desk; You Just Need To Move Regularly

Sitting at your desk all day is killing you whether or not you exercise, which is why so many people are building standing desks. But the ergonomics team at Cornell University points out that standing also has its problems. Their suggestion: Just make a point to get off your butt regularly.

Photo by ounelly70.

You already know how sitting is hurting you, but the folks at Cornell point out the perils of standing:

It dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy. The performance of many fine motor skills also is less good when people stand rather than sit.

They also claim standing stations, like treadputers, decrease work performance. Much of their speculation depends on the type of work you do, but their bottom line suggestion is sensible, especially for those of us who aren’t ready to switch to standing:

Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).

It’s hard to make blanket statements about workspaces (depending on the type of work you do, a standing desk might work just fine, and you may move around regularly while you’re at your standing desk), but whether you choose to stand or sit, the most important thing is that you remember to move.

Sitting and Standing at Work [CU Ergo]

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