The internet has picked up a study recently with flashy headlines saying that standing desks are “basically useless.” They are using shock statements to get you to read the article and once you do, you’ll realize that’s not even what the study is about.
Is the study saying that sitting for long periods of time isn’t dangerous?
No. At the very top of the study, the second sentence, it states, “Long periods of sitting increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, and overall mortality.” That is stated as a fact with studies cited and it is never called into question.
What is the study actually saying?
NPR explains it here with Lucas Carr, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Iowa:
“Carr says the finding of the Cochrane review doesn’t mean that standing desks and variations are useless. It just means there hasn’t been enough study of the desks to say either way. “The state of the science is definitely early,” he says. “There needs to be longer studies with more people to get a good sense these desks actually cause people to stand.”
They are stating that there need to be more studies. To make the findings stronger, they need to be long term, have a larger sample size, be better designed, and they need to show that having a standing desk results in people standing more often. Here is a quote from the article itself.
“…there is very low quality evidence that sit-stand desks can reduce sitting at work at the short term… We need research to assess the effectiveness of different types of interventions for decreasing sitting at workplaces in the long term.”
Standing desks can’t make people do anything. They can’t make you stand. Whether you stand or not is up to you. Just like a gym membership, a workout program, or anything else: just buying it doesn’t make you use it.
One of the features we designed at Xdesk is called Pulse, which is software that reminds you to stand up. That’s about as much as we can do to help you stay on track with your standing goals. The rest is up to you.
Does this cancel out all of the studies about the dangers of sitting?
There are plenty of long-term studies with evidence detailing the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. And one study claiming that they need more data showing that “sit-stand desks can reduce sitting time at work” does not negate all of the studies and science that show how bad sitting is.
All it means is that people who get standing desks need to use them. Their experiences can help support the findings that standing desks are beneficial to your health. And just because there needs to be longer studies, doesn’t mean you should give up and sit for eight hours a day.
But you sell standing desks, so of course you would say this.
Sure, we are biased. We sell standing desks because we believe in them. But don’t just take our word for it.
Listen to the Mayo Clinic, the American Cancer Society, Harvard Medical School, Smithsonian and even the Huffington Post who wrote again, and again, and again and again about the dangers of sitting. They even wrote that the standing desk, “is a step forward” and that “it’s an easy way to reverse the amount of time sitting each day.”
This may seem confusing since their recent article is titled “Experts Say Your Standing Desk is Basically Useless.” Carr already explained that the “Cochrane review doesn’t mean that standing desks and variations are useless.” There just needs to be better, longer studies.
If you read to the end of the Huffington Post article in question, you’ll see plenty of opinions in favor of standing desks. Some talk about how much standing desks have helped them, and some express that the writing is “inaccurate click-bait,” “bad journalism,” “disingenuous,” and “it’s the same as saying exercise equipment is useless because people don’t use it enough.” But read the study for yourself and make your own opinion.
Look out for more detailed, longer studies about standing desks in the future. This is an important topic, and now that the world has seen a need, there are sure to be plenty of researchers and scientists to fill it. But be aware, one of the issues is that the studies need to be longer, so it may be a while before these new standing desk studies come out.
In the mean time, don’t give up (and especially don’t give in to click bait). Read the study for yourself, get the facts, and make up your own mind. And if you have a standing desk, use it.
If you don’t have a standing desk, don’t be scared away because someone said “You’ll just sit down anyway so it won’t make a difference.” You are in charge you. You know the dangers of sitting, and if you want to help yourself, you’ll use your standing desk and sit less.
That’s a fact.