Researchers at Cornell University’s Ergonomics Department have, upon much research, come to the conclusion that neither sitting, nor standing, is good for one’s body.
Well, if you read the results they published it comes down to one thing: moderation. Too much time spent in any one particular place is bad for your body. The report goes on further to suggest that treadmill desks aren’t optimal either, as they decrease overall productivity and concentration. They conclude with the advice that you should sit while doing computer work, and take frequent breaks (every half hour or so), where you not only stand up but also walk around or do some sort of activity to “get the blood moving” (such as jumping jacks).
Pretty sound advice, but I have a few reservations about their findings. First, they shrug off the effectiveness of standing desks almost entirely, saying that most users only stood at them for fifteen minutes a day, and then sat the rest of the time. They also concluded that after a month most people stop using their desk in “stand mode” entirely (which may be true, but doesn’t affect those of us that continue using a standing desk for the long run).
Second, although treadmill workstations do require a bit of getting used to, you are generally walking at a speed of 2MPH or less, and that doesn’t affect concentration or productivity unless you are doing something very precise (CAD drawings, etc.).
Third, they mention that if you raise your desk that you also need to raise your monitor, to prevent neck injury. Well, yah…I hope most people would realize that, instead of ending up hunched over their standing desk.
So, yes, either sitting or standing can lead to problems, but if you take the proper precautions and do it right you should be OK.
Download the entire report (complete with overly long title: “Effects of an Electric Height-Adjustable Worksurface on Self-Assessed Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Productivity in Computer Workers“) from the Cornell web site, here.