Standing desks are the rage. Star coders demand a standing desk, along with a truckload of stock options, to change jobs. TV commercials show these lean, obviously high-achiever types using their stand-up desks. Can’t wait to get one? Think twice. A team at the University of Toronto School of Public Health did a study. Here’s the punch line: Prolonged standing at work doubles heart attack risk. Peter M. Smith, MD, PhD led the study of over 7,000 individuals. Dr. Smith is an associate professor at the University of Toronto and also a senior scientist at the Institute for Work and Health. The research goal was to get real-world measurement of the health impact from standing versus sitting in a business setting. They divided the individuals into four groups: mostly standing, mostly sitting, stand and walk, mix of positions like crouching and kneeling. Those who stood the most had a greater risk of heart disease.
To be complete, most of the observed jobs were in factories such as assembly line jobs that required extended periods of standing. But the authors also mentioned retail positions where sales associates, store managers etc. were on their feet for hours as another set of jobs that could be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Our admittedly non-medical conclusion – move around some. If your job allows, sit when you get tired of standing. Link to a research summary here.