Too much sitting can lead to some pretty significant health problems. A multitude of previous studies have shown that professions that require a lot of sitting at a desk can increase risk of heart failure as well as an increased risk of disability in the future. It can also shorten your life expectancy. However, the most recent study, lead by Johns Hopkins University, showed that standing at a desk provides very little change in health risks.
Standing desks have grown in popularity as the health risks of sitting all day have become more well known. However, standing at your desk or even having treadmill desks may not be all that beneficial to your health. In fact, it may not change anything at all.
The Johns Hopkins study took a look at previous studies examining individuals who had turned to standing (or even walking) at their desk. After closely analyzing about 20 studies, they found that there is little evidence that purchasing one of these standing desks or treadmill desks makes any difference at all.
“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” said Dr. Jos Verbeek, a lead author of the study. Verbeek and the co-authors of the study found conflicting information when it came to standing at your desk. Previous studies on the matter, according to Verbeek, were poorly designed or way too small to really determine any benefits.
This means that there is no evidence that standing is any better than sitting at a desk. Verbeek said that the idea that you should be standing at least four hours a day has no merit. Standing, he said, can actually be bad for your health. It can lead to problems in your knees and feet and actually cause discomfort for some people. It can also lead to enlarged veins.
Standing in moderation, however, may have some benefits. Standing obviously burns more calories than sitting. There is no evidence that standing is significantly better than sitting though. What people should be focusing on is getting more exercise when they are not at work.
Changing behavior, however, is always the most difficult part. These sit-stand desks that have been introduced in some offices will not likely help many people fight obesity. According to researchers, this will only help healthy workers prevent becoming unhealthy. Researchers also suggest offices make people get up to do certain things. For instance, put the printer further away from desks. This way, people get up periodically through the day while they are working. Offices are also encouraged to start competitions with steps per day, etc. to promote moving around in and outside of work.
Some workers also set timers on their phones or computers to remind them to get up and walk around periodically. This can help prevent stiffness and also prevent some of the health risks associated with sitting all day.
Photo: Flickr: ramsey beyer