Standing up at work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be


If your workplace is anything like the World Headquarters of NewsCut, you have two kinds and only two kinds of colleagues: Those who stand up at their desks and those who sit down.

Not surprisingly, perhaps. I’m in the sit-down club because the wisdom of advancing age is knowing that your life, allegedly prolonged by standing, is not prolonged as a thirty-something.

The stand-up crowd tend to be a lot like soccer fans. It’s not enough that they like soccer, they insist that you have to like soccer too. Stand down, soccer fans. It’s a joke. It’s also like people who listen to public radio working into every conversation that they heard whatever they believe on public radio.

Like the notion that standing up is good for you, for example. Like those big bouncy balls that everyone was sitting on a few years ago before one or two popped under the strain.

So today’s news is big news. There’s no evidence that sit-stand desks are an improvement, NPR reports.

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

Verbeek says that the studies he and his co-authors analyzed came to conflicting conclusions about whether sit-stand desks reduce sitting time. Even the best research available wasn’t great, the researchers write in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

The studies were either too small to be significant, the scientists say, or were poorly designed. For example, most were not randomized controlled trials, and the longest study followed participants for only six months.

In fact, there isn’t really any evidence that standing is better than sitting, Verbeek adds. The extra calories you burn from standing over sitting for a day are barely enough to cover a couple of banana chips.

Standing up isn’t bad for you, most of the experts agree; it’s just not doing anything much for you except alerting your colleagues that you’re more a follower than a leader.

Fortunately, at the World Headquarters, we also have dedicated rooms for people who need to have a good cry once in awhile. Those are going to come in handy today when this news gets out.