Standing desks at work are not better for your health than sitting desks, as revealed by a new study published this week in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. In fact, standing for hours can be as bad as sitting all day, which is a well-known cause of a sedentary life that increases the risk of severe disease.
Sitting too much reduces life expectancy and increases the risk of diabetes, heart failure, cancer, obesity, among other life-threatening diseases. But this study reveals that standing desks don’t represent the clever solution many hoped since there’s not sufficient evidence to prove the long-term health benefits of switching to that trend.
“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” researcher Dr. Jos. Verbeek told National Public Radio (NPR). He is the Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane Occupational Safety and Health Review Group at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Verbeek and his team of health experts analyzed 20 of the best studies ever conducted on the matter in a bunch of different countries involving 2,174 adults. Nine of the studies focused on physical office changes, two looked at workplace policy modifications, seven examined counselling and information programs and one focused on both physical changes to the office and counselling.
The authors of this current study were more interested in the topic of standing desks, which led to up to 120 minutes less sitting each day where installed. They found that there was no significant difference when counselling was offered alongside the new standing desk.
Studies that consider standing healthier than sitting are not based on solid evidence
Researchers realized that the papers were poorly designed and included very few participants, which made them conclude that there’s no solid evidence to prove that standing brings more benefits to human health than sitting. Doctor Verbeek wrote in the paper that no evidence has solidly proven so far that standing at work can reduce the harms caused by a sedentary life.
Author Verbeek did dare to say that there is evidence that standing can be actually bad for health. He mentioned a study conducted in 2005, which revealed that standing too much was linked to enlarged veins.
However, he pointed out that it was important that workers who sit at a desk all day take action to improve their well-being both at work and at home.
The authors concluded that further research is needed in order to find a real solution to reduce sitting time at workplaces in the long term, remarking the importance of effectiveness in the studies.