Have you seen the commercial for the Varidesk? The Varidesk is a sit-stand desk. Brands like it have become quite trendy in the work place. It is a collapsable desk that can be placed on an existing desk surface, allowing a person to alternate between sitting and standing. Sounds like a great idea, right? Sitting for long periods of time doesn’t seem to be of benefit to anyone. In fact, health experts warn that long periods of sitting can increase the risk of heart disease and contribute towards being overweight or obese.
A new study from the Cochrane Review looked at the potential health benefits of the sit-stand desk. Unfortunately, the review did not find good quality evidence about the benefits of sit-stand desks. The study found that those who used the sit-stand desk, sat 30 to 120 minutes less than those who did not use it. The study also went on to say, that other interventions such as taking a walk during breaks did not change the amount of time people sat during the work day. In addition, the study did not show any harmful effects such as musculoskeletal pain, varicose veins or a decrease in productivity.
The review is not without its limitations. It only looked at a small population of people–218. The study went on to say that more research needs to be done to demonstrate the health benefits of sit-stand desks.
The study found that walking during breaks did not change the total amount of time spent sitting. If you have no contraindication to standing or walking, i.e. a medical or orthopedic illness, standing and moving about in the office space isn’t a bad idea. Better yet, is to take a walk during your lunch hour. Walk for 15 to 30 minutes or more. Walking is an aerobic activity. You will burn calories if you walk for sustained periods of time. So even if interventions such as the sit-stand desk or taking walks during short breaks didn’t seem to show any health benefits, taking a 15-30 minute walk surely will. So, on this Move It Monday, lets focus on ways that we can incorporate physical activity whenever we can.