The dangers of sitting work have been highlighted for years. We sit in our chairs far too long, and our physical health suffers. According to some, however, this could be remedied by opting for sit or stand desks.
Sitting: hearing for a long time and without sufficient physical activity is bad for your health. The solutions and strategies which make it possible to solve this problem therefore deserve to be analyzed.
Sit or stand desks have an obvious advantage
They allow you to easily vary positions. Sitting all day is bad for your health, especially when you stay “glued” to your chair for hours. It is therefore advisable to get up from time to time. Different surveys have shown that a sit or stand desk can reduce back, neck and shoulder problems although the opposite is also true, as we will see below.
But it’s not so much the standing position itself that improves comfort as the change in posture. Changing positions frequently is good for the body and sometimes the mind. And if you have the possibility of working sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, you already have two options at your disposal. But it is quite possible to change position with other types of furniture. In addition to the classic office chair, there are balloon seats, kneeling seats and Aiterminal’s standing desk frame.
And What Does Science Say?
A 2019 study analyzed the effects on body and mind of working on sit or stand desk. Here are the main observations:
Positive effects on physical health: Working at a desk sitting or standing has a positive effect on the heart, especially for people who are overweight or obese. Heart rate was 8 to 14 beats per minute higher when working at a sit or stand desk. Energy consumption was also higher (4-10 kcal or h). However, the effect is negligible for healthy people. The physical benefits are therefore very limited.
For people with chronic lower back pain, the sit or stand desk may be a solution. After three months, this group indeed felt much less pain.
Sit or stand desks can have positive effects on certain areas of the body: in 43% of the studies analyzed, these models reduced physical pain, especially in the lower back. But standing is not by definition better than sitting: in a quarter of the studies, physical problems were less when sitting. They often involved pain in the legs, swelling in the feet or legs and there it is again -lower back pain. Whether you are sitting or standing, it is the excess that causes physical disorders.
Sit or stand desks have virtually no positive effect on cognitive performance (attention, memory, reaction time). Nor is there a drop in absenteeism or an increase in productivity. Sit or stand desks can also make you feels like you’re doing the right thing: two-thirds of users report a positive effect on their self-efficacy. For other psychological factors (satisfaction, mood), no effect was generally observed. The effect of sit or stand desks on position changes was limited. With a model of this type, the upper body changes more position, but not sufficiently. The most important thing is to vary the positions and adopt lots of different ones.