standing desk benefits

Are standing desk benefits significant enough to ditch sitting desks? Researchers determine the answer by examining three conditions of posture as well as the energy cost and metabolic influences of sitting versus standing.

Sedentary lifestyles can lead to type 2 diabetes and a risk of heart disease. While a good diet and physical exercise prevent weight gain and obesity, we should also make other health-conscious choices daily to help increase activity and metabolism. It has been shown that obese adults sit two to three hours longer in a day than non-obese adults. It is hypothesized that standing and height-adjustable workstations may lead to a faster metabolism and weight loss.

In a study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers determined the effects of standing desks on energy cost and metabolism. Forty-six healthy men and women from the United Kingdom partook in the standing versus sitting analysis. Participants were asked not to exercise, nor drink coffee or alcohol 24 hours before participating. Participants also fasted for eight or more hours before beginning.

The researchers collected physical measurements and each participant completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). The survey asked questions about participants’ activity level. Participants were asked to stand, sit, and lay down. Expired gas samples were collected from each participant to see how many calories were burnt during each of the three positions.

The study revealed that participants’ energy costs increased slightly (12%) while standing, but not enough to influence weight loss. This suggests that standing desks are not effective enough to achieve weight loss or fight obesity. The results showed that standing only burnt a few more calories than sitting.

So what does this say about the benefits of standing desks? Although the results showed a small increase in energy cost while standing, standing desks still help prevent sedentary lifestyles. Standing desk benefits include slightly more activity, which may help prevent chronic conditions. Because of this, they are highly encouraged as a smarter and healthier option. If standing desks are not an option at your workplace, people should also consider taking activity breaks.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer

References:

  1. Betts, James A., et al. “The Energy Cost of Sitting versus Standing Naturally in Man.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2018. 1-29. Online.
  2. Study takes stand on true health benefits of getting up out of your chair. 2018, https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/study-takes-stand-on-true-health-benefits-of-getting-up-out-of-your-chair/, assessed 6 Dec. 2018.
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