Standing desks are the latest way to trade comfort for the moral high ground, and their health benefits have always been dubious at best. Following an analysis of studies into their benefits, researchers have come up with a loud, resounding “meh”.
A paper in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews analysed 20 studies that looked into the effectiveness of trying to reduce sitting time at work. The results aren’t flattering to the standing desk trend: not only do standing desks barely reduce the overall amount of time that people spend sitting at work, but any reduction has barely any health benefits.
Across the studies, the team found systematic flaws with the methodology, either in a lack of controls, randomisation, or only using six-month time periods that are far too short.
A more robust cohort study, tracking health data from 5,132 people over 16 years, backs up this conclusion: researchers found that the amount of time sitting at work had no effect on mortality rate, and that other, more conventional methods like going for a jog are far more effective.
Dr Jos Verbeek, one of the health researchers involved in the meta-analysis, told NPR that standing desks are “very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health”.