Would you be interested in burning more calories and living longer while doing practically the same thing you do every day at work? All you have to do is stand and type.

Standing Workstations Proven to be Healthier than Sitting

A study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that employees with sit-stand desks stood 60 minutes more a day at work (less sedentary) compared to their co-workers with sitting desks. Plus, the sit-stand desk users walked an additional six minutes a day at work.

It also goes without saying that the employees with sit-stand desks burned up to 87 more calories a day than their sitting counterparts. While this number is small, the researchers believe that it could be important in fighting the obesity epidemic in the United States; especially considering that the body works better upright rather than sitting.

what-sitting-does-to-your-body

“Studies suggest American workers today burn roughly 100 calories-less each day while at work compared to American workers in 1960. This decline in occupational energy expenditure is thought to play a substantial role in the rising obesity epidemic we have observed over that same time period,” says Dr. Lucas Carr, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Physiology and member of the Obesity Research and Education Initiative at the UI. “Our findings are important because they support redesigning the traditionally sedentary office environment as a potentially cost-effective approach for fighting the obesity epidemic.”

Dr. Carr is one of the lead investigators of the study “Examining the Long-term Use of Sit-stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting,” which was published online Oct. 1 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Other occupational studies have found that sedentary jobs have risen 83 percent since 1960 and now account for 43 percent of all jobs in the United States. Office workers sit more than 80 percent of the workday, placing them at increased risk for many sedentary-related pathologies including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and ADD-ADHD.

Only Move the Joints You Want to Keep

This is exactly why we always recommend that you transition from a sitting work station to a standing workstation. Not simply because it’s healthier for your spine, but because it promotes movement – and an age old rule in clinical biomechanics, posture and spine care is that you only move the joints that you want to keep!

The study involved 69 middle-aged, mostly female employees—31 using sit-stand desks and 38 using sitting desks—in a variety of office jobs including administrative/clerical, statistical/testing, management, marketing, research, and accounting. To measure their physical activity, participants wore a monitor similar to a pedometer around the clock for five work days. The device measured their body positions, movements, and the intensity or pace of their movements.

The standing-desk employees burned more calories than those with seated desks but more research is needed to examine the impact of replacing sitting with standing on cardiometabolic, musculoskeletal (neck, back, hip discomfort), and cognitive outcomes.

Standing WorkStations Are Not Just a Fad

Here are a few other studies pointing out benefits:

  • A 2015 study published in the Oxford Journal of Public Health shows that sit-to-stand desks in classrooms appear to be an effective way of reducing sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) in a diverse sample of children.
  • At their 2013 annual meeting, the American Medical Association adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as sit-stand desks. 
  • A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that when workers are equipped with sit-stand workstations, prolonged sitting is reduced and mood states improve.

Standing work stations are actually based on a substantial amount of research. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has a scary statistic to share: here in the US, we spend more than half of our waking hour sitting down, split between watching TV, driving a car, and working at a desk. This is not good.

The problem with sitting is essentially two-fold.

  1. We burn fewer calories when we’re sitting.
  2. Marathon sitting (all day at work) changes our body’s metabolism.

But that doesn’t mean you need to be standing all day either. The idea here is that we should be moving. I personally believe that standing is better than sitting, just as long as you take some breaks. Because remember, the enemy is not sitting–it’s sitting all day.

Here are my recommendations for standing workstations…and don’t complain about what they cost cause you should never skimp out when it comes to your health!!! 🙂

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