Demystifying the standing desk solution

Demystifying the standing desk solution

by Muhaimin X 28 Feb 2020

Over the years, there were numerous claims about how sitting is the silent killer, with experts arguing that there's a direct relationship between time spent sitting and risk of early mortality. While spending too much time in any position can be arguably bad for your health and posture, does this apply to standing as well? More specifically, are standing desks really the cure-all for health issues faced in the workplace today?


Now, we don't blame you for being paranoid after hearing all the potential health issues prolonged sitting might bring. Furthermore, this fear is often amplified in the office because of a colleague who’s happened to convert to a standing desk and has made a habit of regularly extolling its virtues. This contrast in environment often leads to internal discomfort, where one questions if they’re “doing the right thing” or not.


However, Alan Taylor, a physiology expert at Nottingham University, argued that the introduction and popularity of standing desks have often been a marketing gimmick, and not by scientific evidence. Researchers shared with Ergonomics, a medical journal, that subjects showed an apparent increase in lower limb swelling and decreased mental state when they were asked to stand for a prolonged period.


The study fits with the idea of a standing desk at the workplace. Marketing and sales gimmick works well because there's research arguing that “occupational sitting,” or the average amount of time office workers spend sitting, is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and an increased overall mortality. On top of that, some research suggests that even those who get 60 minutes of exercise per day are not immune to this epidemic.


Just as how the balance ball chair fell out of favour, this controversy surrounding standing desks only exists because people tend to take things to the extreme. If some is good, more is bound to be better – sounds familiar? People go from sitting for eight hours on end to standing for the same amount of time; it’s no surprise that things don’t improve by much.


A standing desk seems like a great way to combat the problem of prolonged sitting, since it’s unlikely that computer use will decrease anytime soon. However, it’s effectiveness depends on how economic its usage is. You’re bound to feel more fidgety after a shorter amount of time using a standing desk instead of a conventional one – take that as your sign to take a walk or even sit down for a while. It’s never a bad idea to give your legs a break from standing all the time!