Missing link between sitting and standing

The Health Benefits of Movement

The health benefits of standing are highly debated. What science says about the Standing Desk?

Sitting still is killing our bodies and it's obvious that our bodies are not designed to sit still. What does the research say about sitting? Are standing desks really the best option for your health and productivity?

So, What's bad about sitting?

The fundamental principle is that a sedentary lifestyle and the physiologic changes that ensue are harmful to us. There’s a lot of evidence that physical inactivity is linked to higher morbidity and mortality, but the question is how does this relate to sitting at our desks, and whether standing desks are a viable alternative?

Mandsager and colleagues demonstrated in 2018 that poor cardiorespiratory fitness, as assessed on an exercise treadmill test, was strongly correlated with mortality. In short, if we're in better shape, we’re less likely to die.

It is important to note, however, that this study, and many others, are retrospective studies and therefore by definition, they demonstrate correlation, not causation. Additionally, it’s been noted that the negative effects of sitting aren’t reversed by exercise. Reason being, the metabolic changes and subsequent deleterious effects induced by sitting aren’t simply reversed by being active. Sitting also increases the pressure to your lower back in comparison to standing. Ever notice that your back hurts more when you sit for prolonged periods of time?

Let's talk about the evidence of the Standing Desk

If sitting for prolonged periods is bad for us, it’s easy to see how standing desks or stand up desk would seem like a logical solution. In 2013, Buckley and colleagues demonstrated that standing reduces postprandial glycemic variability, meaning your blood sugar varies less after eating a meal if you’re standing. This is good, as greater amplitudes of glycemic variability have been linked to circulatory oxidative stress. However, Bailey and Locke also in 2013 had conflicting data, suggesting that standing did not alter postprandial glycemic variation, but short bouts of light-intensity activity did.

In 2017, Gibbs and colleagues postulated that decreased caloric expenditure could be a specific mechanism through which sedentary behavior increases health risks, such as by contributing to an energy imbalance leading to obesity. They also demonstrate that standing expends more energy than sitting - no surprise there! As a whole however, the literature regarding the benefits of standing desk is not clear cut. Katzarzyk in 2013 suggested that increased standing time was correlated to reduced mortality rates, but Smith and colleagues in 2017 suggested the exact opposite; that occupations involving primarily standing were associated with a 2-fold increase in heart disease compared to occupations involving predominantly sitting. Several other studies I came across in my research emphasized the increases in physical activity associated with standing desks, reduction of lower back pain, and improvement in cholesterol or blood pressure.

The overwhelming majority of the studies were retrospective and did not adequately control for possible confounding variables. For example, Smith and colleagues demonstrated that people working occupations involving primarily standing was associated with a 2-fold increase in heart disease. But without controlling for the types of occupations, socioeconomic variables, and other demographic factors, that information is close to meaningless. But the message is very clear that sedentary lifestyle is not good for you. 

However, others suggested that without realising, the increased physical activity at a standing desk was offset by a decrease in physical activity away from the desk. Moreover, a recent study conducted at Curtin University in Australia where 20 people were observed during two hours of laboratory-based standing computer work shows that after 75 minutes of standing-up, there is an increase of discomfort and cognitive function, along with muscle fatigue, movement, lower limb swelling and mental state. Although "creative' decision-making was shown to marginally improve. Standup desk associated with deterioration in reaction time and mental state.

Professor Alan Taylor, a physiotherapy expert at Nottingham University, said: “The bottom line is that this expansion has been driven more by commercial reasons than scientific evidence.


So, what can we do?

Standup desk is a result of people expecting an easy fix for sedentary lifestyle but unfortunately, even with the scientific method we don’t get clear cut answers, and we must make decisions with imperfect informationHowever, the data is quite strong that a sedentary lifestyle is not good for you and standing desk is not the only solution for sedentary lifestyle. Ultimately, too much standing or sitting would result in discomfort and no matter how much you exercise you cannot reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Caldwell and colleagues in 2018 even demonstrated that prolonged standing resulted in measurable increases in arterial stiffness. It seems, then, that any form of inactivity, whether standing or seated, results in negative health implications. Instead of focusing on standing or sitting at our desks, it appears that the most important principle is to move regularly

Based on 4 years of development and the overwhelming support of clinical evidence movement is the answer to reducing muscular disorders from prolonged sitting. small bouts of movement are the key and ErgoFlip created to move you while sitting. 

Standing is not the only solution! ErgoFlip is the missing link to create movement while sitting at your desk.

Sit in Motion & Stay Active!






Special Credits to Dr Kevin Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com for the amazing video and research

Back to blog