Or, at least, that’s the claim made by new critics of the standing desk trend. The backlash against the standing desk movement seems to come from two primary sources: annoyed coworkers and health experts. A growing body of standing desk truthers argue that too much standing is just as unhealthy as too much sitting.
As more American workers spent more time sitting in front of the computer and being sedentary, doctors began to warn that sitting can lead to negative side effects. That led to a rash of articles warning about the dangers of our cubicle-bound lifestyle, and a number of companies touting the health benefits of their standing desks. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ominously asked “Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?”
In one study, researchers did find that adults who sat for eight hours a day had a 15% greater risk of early death. Those who sat for 11 hours a day had a 40% greater risk. Excessive sitting can also lead to lower back pain, one reason that doctors say 80% of the U.S. population will experience back problems in their life. Not only that, but 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 suffer from lower back pain already.
But, in what’s become a rather predictable cycle in the online content industry, a backlash has begun against standing desks. In September, the New York Times published an article titled, “How To Use a Standing Desk Without Annoying Your Co-Workers.” The Wall Street Journal released a report chronicling dubious claims about standing desks, while The Week published a tirade against those Standing Desk People called “Down with standing desks!”
Finally, in a sign that a meme has reached its peak, Good Morning America covered the issue, with a report called “Debunking Fitness Myths: Standing Desks.”
In reality, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Standing at your desk all day is just as unhealthy as sitting all day. However, proper posture, stretching, and periods of standing or walking can help decrease the potential risks. As always, without a healthy diet and exercise, it doesn’t matter whether you stand or sit.