Working in a sitting mode for long hours is obviously very bad for health. However, working on a “standing desk” will not improve your health either, according to a new study published this week, which claims the risk of various health issues like obesity, heart failure, shortened life expectancy or diabetes will not be reduced by using the standing desk at workstations.
An analysis published Wednesday which comprise of 20 of the best studies done so far. The research claims that there’s little or almost no evidence that workplace interventions like treadmill desks, the sit-stand desk or even the flashier pedaling helped users burn lots more calories, or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end.
“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Dr. Jos Verbeek and his team published their findings in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, after closely reviewing 20 studies on the impact of Standing Desks on health improvements. After examining these studies, researchers realized that most of these studies conducted earlier were either poorly executed with conflicting conclusions or too small to be significantly believe the proof provided by these studies. For example, most were not randomized controlled trials, and the longest study followed participants for only six months. Hence, the team believes that there is no conclusive proof that standing in workplaces is better than sitting.
“The idea you should be standing four hours a day? There’s no real evidence for that,” he said. “I would say that there’s evidence that standing can be bad for your health,” in fact, Verbeek mentioned about a 2005 study that linked prolonged standing with enlargement of veins. Many studies claimed that more calories burnt while standing, than the traditional sitting workstations, but the impacts have been negligible.
Lucas Carr, behavioral professor who was not a part of the study holds a different view about the author’s conclusion, stating that balance and moderation are essential for it to work.
“The health benefits of standing are not well-known,” Carr tells NPR. “But you’re going to burn more calories standing than sitting. I know it’s not a tremendous amount,” he says, but “those calories every day over many years will add up.”
However, the one thing that the two agree on, in Carr’s words, “the state of the science is definitely early.” Experts believe more deeper studies are the need of the time before real evidence can support the use of standing desks against sitting.
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