Photo by Kiran Jonnalagadda
First, even if people who sit all day are less healthy, that may not mean that a standing or walking desk will improve your health. A few experts weighed in with scepticism in a Boston Globe article:
“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” said Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.”
While standing still burns a few more calories as our hearts work harder to circulate blood upward, it also puts more strain on our veins, backs, and joints, especially if we’re overweight.
“Studies haven’t yet determined how much standing helps healthwise,” said Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who has studied the risks of sedentary behaviour. In population studies, researchers haven’t been able to determine whether the health benefits of reduced sitting time stem from moving around more or from standing still. And results on whether exercise reduces the health risks of sitting are conflicting.
Another hiccup may come when you look at the effects of walking while working, not on your body, but on your work. A small study published in PLOS One found that people at treadmill desks fared worse on tests of learning, attention, and typing. The subjects weren’t accustomed to working on a treadmill, though, so the effects may be temporary.
When I tried a standing desk, I found it was harder to think. Then again, perhaps I should have tried it for more than ten minutes.
If you’ve tried a non-sitting desk, how did it work out for you? Was there a difficult transition period, and how long did it take to get over it? Definitely tell us how long you’ve been happily using the desk, or if you quit, tell us why!