Standing Desk Benefits

Excerpt from 2012 Article Created by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Posted on  by L. Casey Chosewood, MD and Constance C. Franklin, MPA

Over the past year, NIOSH and its Total Worker HealthTM Program have been traveling the country sharing the evidence and benefits of comprehensively integrating health protection with health promotion, including workplace programs that encourage physical activity, weight loss and stress management.   Recently, we launched an internal NIOSH pilot program  to explore the use of sit and stand work stations as part of a workplace health and wellbeing initiative to reduce sedentary work in our workplace.

The pilot program was inspired by emerging research on the impact of sedentary work (Van der Ploe, Chey, et al, 2012) on employee health and by new employer initiatives that aim to decrease sedentary work, such as VHA’s Wellness Program highlighted in a recent NIOSH Science Blog post.  A sit-stand workstation allows the user to intermittently sit or stand while working on the computer, participating in a conference call, or performing other work.  The customizable workstation allows users to easily transition between a seated and standing work position multiple times throughout the day.

Through the pilot program, we’ll gauge satisfaction with sit-stand workstations, monitor and support our employees as they try out this new intervention, and hopefully improve the health of those who choose to participate.  Given that the benefits and risks of sit-stand workstations remain to be determined, we are proceeding cautiously.  The devices are only just beginning to be widely used and while there are many possible benefits, there may also be drawbacks such as risks from excessive standing as well as possible  ergonomic issues that that may arise with the use of any new piece of equipment.  Some of the possible health benefits that have been reported with regular use of sit-stand workstations are listed below.

  • Standing more while at work decreases the amount of time spent in sedentary work
  • Standing more helps relieve pressure on the lower back, buttocks and legs, and may help reduce compression of the spine arising from long periods of sitting
  • Standing more may improve energy levels
  •  Standing more frequently may improve cognition
  • Standing may increase circulation and lead to better blood flow to the brain and other organs
  • Standing more burns more calories than sitting
  • Standing more may assist with energy balance and aid in weight management
  • Standing more may improve bone density over time
  • Standing more may promote better sleep