Sit-stand desks are becoming increasingly popular, and have been touted as solutions for reducing obesity, combating cardiovascular disease, premature death.
The British Medical Journal published a study this month that looked at a sit-stand desk and its effects on prolonged sitting and physical activity as well as psychological and work-related health. They found that giving the worker this desk promoted less sitting, and using self-reported evaluations, the workers noted a positive change in work engagement, occupational fatigue, daily anxiety and quality of life.
It’s important however when studies come out, to look at them with a critical eye. When a study uses self-reports, that always introduces the possibility of bias. Reporting one's own experience is very subjective.
Also - it’s important to note that while there were some positive benefits reported in this study, it doesn’t necessarily measure whether one is less likely to be obese, have heart disease or develop some other illness that would lead to premature death - that would be quite a leap.
In fact, the British Medical Journal in 2016 reported on a review of multiple studies (from the Cochran Review) that showed that the research out there on whether a sit-stand desk is going to change your mortality is pretty weak - and therefore, inconclusive.
That said, guess what…I have a sit-stand desk!! However, being a surgeon in clinic, it's usually fast-paced and I'm constantly on the move between sitting and standing. Whether I use the desk up or down depends on how quickly I need to move that day!
Despite the research being not entirely conclusive, I feel it's safe to say that avoiding prolonged static positions whether it's standing or siting, and taking standing breaks (or sitting breaks) is overall beneficial for your musculoskeletal health.