How Much Should You Stand or Sit at Work?

Photo by Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock.com

Standing desks, treadmill desks and just plain standing at work or at home gives you a reason to boast. After all, you’re showing your commitment to good health. Healthy people stand and walk more than they sit, right?

Actually, it depends.

Yes, constant sitting has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and premature death in 47 studies analyzed by researchers who published their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Harvard Health Publications published a synopsis of the study.

That is likely not surprising to many who have read such reports in newspapers and other general interest publications.

Possibly more surprising is that constant standing might not give you the health benefits you seek.

“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, told NPR about the use of standing and walking desks.

In fact, it might harm your health as much as constant sitting.

“Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing,” researcher Melvyn Hillsdon from the University of Exeter, England, told Medical Xpress. “The results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments.”

So what’s the answer? Don’t stand or sit in one position for too long, said Hillsdon. The absence of rapid movement — whether you’re lounging on your couch or walking slowly on a treadmill desk — are equally hazardous to your health.

Doubt it? Think of assembly line workers, bank tellers, salespeople and others who have traditionally had to constantly stand at work. They were often treated for musculoskeletal and cardiac ailments until OSHA-mandated safeguards were established in 1971.

“The idea you should be standing four hours a day? There’s no real evidence for that,” Verbeek told NPR. “I would say that there’s evidence that standing can be bad for your health.”

So how do you stay healthy? Consider these five suggestions from health care experts:

Don’t ditch your standing or treadmill desk

Walking burns significantly more calories than sitting, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. The researchers found those who sat — such as you would while watching TV or typing — burned 80 calories an hour. Watching TV or typing while you stand only burns 88 calories per hour. But walking burns 210 calories an hour. That’s a significant increase, especially for people who need to shed a few pounds.

Avoid an ‘all or nothing’ mentality

Stanford University researchers found 78 percent of workers with lower back pain had more pain-free days when they used a sit/stand station than those who only sat, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine and cited on several health sites. The improvement wasn’t instantaneous, though. Workers reported lessened pain and increased concentration about 15 days after adopting a stand/work station, reported the website Just Stand.org.

Think twice before you stand all day

“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University told the Boston Globe. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, back aches and varicose veins.” And standing to burn extra calories places extra strain on our bodies, especially for those who are overweight.

Take study results with a grain of salt

“Studies haven’t yet determined how much standing helps healthwise,” I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told The Boston Globe. For one thing, researchers are uncertain if health benefits come from standing or moving instead of sitting. Beyond that, it remains unclear whether exercise reduces any health risks from sitting.

Use common sense

When you do computer work, sit. Stand up every 20 minutes, remain standing for eight minutes, and then move for two minutes, recommend researchers at Cornell University. Standing isn’t enough, they say. Movement, even just walking to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, allows blood to circulate, and that improves health.

Although researchers’ conclusions vary, they all seem to agree that sitting, standing and walking — all in moderation throughout the day — is likely the best way to stay healthy.

What’s your healthy regimen, or your bad habit? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020
How to Achieve Your Financial Goals in 2020

New year, new you. Get your finances on track with the help of these tools for investing, saving, budgeting and earning.

3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances
3 Ways a Health Savings Account Can Improve Your Finances

Open an HSA in minutes to help you save on taxes, cover medical expenses and grow your retirement nest egg.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

Never Buy These 19 Things at a Grocery Store
Never Buy These 19 Things at a Grocery Store

These household necessities are overpriced at the grocery store. Here’s where to get them cheaper.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

10 States Where COVID-19 Threatens Seniors the Most
10 States Where COVID-19 Threatens Seniors the Most

No state is immune from the coronavirus. But statistics show that some places are especially dangerous for older residents.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

12 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
12 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Things That Are Cheaper Due to the Coronavirus
9 Things That Are Cheaper Due to the Coronavirus

The pandemic has a silver lining.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.