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Are Standing Desks Really That Great?

By Paul Rothbart

The standing desk has become quite a trendy piece of furniture. Sitting is the new smoking the saying goes, so many people are trying this expensive office item. It's supposed to be good for the back and better for the heart. Additional calories are burned while standing. Many benefits have been attributed to the standing desk. It is even promoted by some nations. But is it really worth the expense? Here are some things to consider before jumping on the bandwagon. 

The Claims

It certainly is a fact that a sedentary lifestyle is very unhealthy. Research conducted over a seven year period that people who sat for 12 hours a day had a significantly higher mortality rate than those who sat less than five. Excess sitting can lead to blood clots and is very bad for heart health overall. The medical community also accepts that long periods of sitting harm the spine and can cause damage and pain. It's even worse for those who have a bad back from the start. 

The advocates of the standing desk say that more calories are burned while standing and this helps fight obesity. Standing desks are considered more ergonomic, placing less stress on the body and the back in particular. So, how much of this is backed by science?

What Science Says

A study conducted in 2016 discovered that standing rather than sitting only burned on average two to three extra calories per 15 minutes. This is not enough to make a significant difference in weight loss. Another study found that standing all day could place more stress and discomfort on the body. Research has also realized that the connection between sitting and higher mortality may not be cause and effect, but rather that those who sit for long periods tend to lead unhealthy lifestyles. The sitting contributes, but is not the primary cause. 

The Verdict

A standing desk is expensive and takes up a lot of space. That said, for those with back issues, spending at least part of the work day standing can be very helpful in reducing back pain. An easily adjustable desk is ideal as the individual can stand or sit as the situation dictates. However, for those who do not suffer from any kind of back issues, the standing desk is probably not worth the money. Getting up frequently and moving around, along with an ergonomic chair and proper sitting will manage the health risks associated with long periods of sitting. As with any profession, a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise will be the most important factor in longevity.

The standing desk is now the latest, greatest thing. While they can be beneficial for some, they are not a universal fix for the damage of sitting all day. Standing eight or more hours is not going to be any better if you don't take care of yourself. Think carefully before buying a desk that may not be helpful. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Colorado Springs, Col.

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