The emergence of the stand-up desk has drawn equal parts curiosity and skepticism. While some argue that putting your weight on your feet instead of your butt works wonders for your health, the question looms: is it more than just a novelty?
For starters, a stand-up desk is exactly as it sounds: There is no chair, you stand up as you normally would – hopefully not too arched – and work at a desk that accommodates the change in height. Stand-up desks come in an array of sizes, some as extensions of your normal desk and others which are specially designed. Even an impromptu stack of dusty books will suffice. But if you’re in the market for something more proper, be ready to open your wallet.
The idea of the stand-up desk is rooted in basic logic – standing is healthier than sitting. But according to research from the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, there was only an eight calorie difference between sitting (eighty calories) and standing (eighty-eight calories) for an hour. Walking for an hour, however, burns 210 calories – more than double the amount of calories spent sitting and standing for an hour combined.
But it’s too early to dub it a novelty; the stand-up desk does carry benefits unique to its design. Although the science still needs to come out, past studies point to standing over sitting as a better method to ward off diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, other studies claim that blood sugar levels return to normal faster when standing instead of sitting. And if you like the idea but not the desk, you can always compromise by taking a walk to stretch out those legs.
In truth, the benefits of a stand-up desk are yours to weigh. While using one certainly won’t hurt you, its limited benefits might be a deterrent. If you wish to stay true to traditional cubicle furniture – just keep the chair.
If you really want to crank out calories at work, put a treadmill under the desk. Your company thinks you’re worth it, right?