Working at Standing Desks Can Help Us Live Longer, Shows New Study

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An Australian study found that those desks that can be adjusted for working while standing can improve the health of those that have an office job.

The team of researchers at the Deakin University gathered for their study 230 workers that would usually work sitting in front of their desks. The participants were told to either stand, sit, move less or move more.

The paper was published today in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health.

According to their findings, the offices all over Australia would have to adjust to new desks and, considering the nation has 20% of workers in offices; it means the costs would rise to $185.2 million. But the good news is that they would prevent diseases related to obesity, which saves 7,492 “health-adjusted life years.”

The lead researcher of this study is Dr. Lan Gao (Deakin), who explains that a long time spent sitting at a  desk is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, also reducing life expectancy. So, he searched for a solution:

“Adopting this workplace intervention also has the potential to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. The introduction of sit-stand desks, alongside associated supports, is a cost-effective and innovative way to promote the health of Australia’s workforce.”

Almost half of the Australian workers spend half of their day on the chair, in front of the desk.

Standing or Sitting – Both Are Stationary Postures

A sit-stand desk is almost $344 per person, but Dr. Gao explains that there are workstations co-workers can share and buy in bulk reduces the cost. Moreover, the intervention would positively affect the health of the workers.

The National Health and Medical Research Council agrees that a sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy choice:

“There is currently not enough evidence to make a recommendation on the specific duration of sitting or lying down that is associated with poorer health outcomes. However, it is recommended to break up time spent sitting or lying down, as often as possible.”

Melvyn Hillsdon, with the sport and health sciences department (Exeter), was not involved in the study. He argues that both sitting or standing consume little energy – being stationary postures, so they may “be detrimental to health,” adding that the previous research has results that “cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere