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Why Standing Desks Are Overrated (nytimes.com)
193 points by mistersquid on Nov 19, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments

You know what the problem with problems is? I'll tell you the problem with problems... :)

Imagine Jules. Jules likes to put her laptop on the counter and work standing for an hour after lunch, while having her coffee. ...helps her digestion, or neck or something..

Personally, I like standing and/or walking while working too. I think better, it feels like. I like walking meetings, especially if we're going to be scheming.

Anyway... Jules has a laptop, a counter and she can stand if she likes.

The problem (with problems) is that we^ can't live with "Jules likes X." X must be a universal truth, transformational but as yet undiscovered... something worthy of TedX.

In comes corporate and bureaucratic fact-finding, maybe some pseudo-science. Occasionally actual science weighs in, but those assholes always seem to hedge with fancy "maybes" and "more studies required." So, we create some corporate truth, a way for Jules to stand up with official, legible backing.

It's the same HN debate we keep having about open offices. We can't keep it at "I like/dislike this thing," thing must be quantifiably better.

Not all the decisions we make are factual.

^We means: HN, HR, OHS, furniture manufacturers, ergonomics auditors, techchrunch...

Standing desks can be amazing for those of us who tend to sit like we're misbehaving second-graders. When I sit down, I rarely have 2 feet on the floor, I slouch not just forward but left or right, I spin in my chair... if there were a nun standing behind me, she'd whack me with a yardstick.

That makes sitting all day unhealthy for me. And I know a lot of people who fidget like this! When I stand, I actually have to align my body correctly so that I can, you know, stand up. My core does work, my legs do work, I'm not standing on one foot or slouching because that's harder when you're standing.

I could learn to have perfect posture, but I'm 43, it's not cheap to teach an old dog new tricks. A standing desk is a great investment for me.

On the other hand, my co-worker both has perfect posture at their desk and also has bad knees. A standing desk would be more problematic for them. A quality, expensive chair (almost as expensive as my standing desk!) is a great investment there.

As you say, why are we always looking for the one way to do things? Even if things are factual, there's no reason that the same experience is factually best for all people. Factually, a standing desk is great for me. Factually, it's not great for my co-worker.

I love my standing desk for these reasons. The tailor that did my wedding tux last year also commented on my posture being near perfect. I attribute it wholly (maybe inaccurately) to using a standing desk (and standing most of the day) for the last three years.

Also, maybe it's all in my head, I don't get that "afternoon drowsiness" at all since I started standing up after lunch instead of eating and then sitting in a comfy chair.

So true on the "afternoon drowsiness" thing! I hadn't thought of that.

A friend who is a USMC veteran used to tell me that standard procedure in a briefing was: if you're tired, go stand up in the back. Super hard to fall asleep standing up. I bet there's a big chunk of that here.

I think fidgeting is a lot healthier than sitting in the same position for extended periods of time

Businesses can't seem to admit that they're spending money based on employee preference. There has to be a metrics-driven productivity or healthcare spending argument to justify the budget.

I had this discussion with a book keeper about a fancy chair for an employee once. The bookkeeper was arguing that this was more money than they had spent on a chair before and so it needed to be justified.

I justified it by saying, "We pay this individual over $100,000 a year, they are key to the following efforts, and the chair will last them for their entire career with the company. Not to mention it costs about 1% what we paid the recruiter who brought this person to us."

I made a similar argument at IBM (which got me into some trouble) which was that revenue per employee was up significantly from the period when everyone had an office, so why not have an office with some offices, some cubes, and some open space and let people work in the space where they are most productive? Total cost per employee was still going to be a lot less relative to their revenue generation than it had been in the past.

Too often people focus too closely on the one time costs and not the overall expense.

That's a really excellent point. If there's any risk that an employee would leave to run after a cheap perk like a standing desk or a good chair, it's just bad management to not spend that money.

Boggles the mind why companies skim on quality properly-speced laptops.

Yes. Admitting input from the employees violates the hierarchy. The Platonic ideal of "business" is one in which ideas are formed from the "vision" from the CEO and everyone else is there to implement their will, in a hierarchical fashion. This is used to justify paying the CEO the salary of a thousand or ten thousand workers.

Admitting that the workers might know anything better than the management, even about their own preferences, is disruptive to this concept.

I'd add the many others in the hierarchy having their personal"vision" questioned by 'subordinates' creates the same problems you describe. Otherwise, you nailed it imho.

Data helps corporate management avoid personal responsibility, so it's not just "As a leader, I think..." but rather "Look at what the data is telling us to do." Yeah, it sucks.

This is why I personally value and respect leaders/supervisors who don't try to hide behind data: because they're personally invested in their decisions and actually demonstrate that they're in control with their hands on the steering wheel of their organizational unit (be it team or department or facility or company).

My previous supervisor (current coworker) was/is excellent about this. Yeah, of course the actual data will be front and center in the decisionmaking process, but he always makes a point to actually validate that data (through hands-on / direct observation or through his direct reports), knowing full well that there's no such thing as perfect data (there's always a missing metric or an unreliable source somewhere).

More importantly, he's willing to put himself behind his decisions, and always encouraged the rest of us to do the same for our own direct reports (and while I don't and didn't have any, I still took his lessons to heart): if you need to rely on / appeal to external sources of authority (be they higher-ups, data, "corporate policy", etc.) to assert your own authority, then your own authority is illusory, at best. By all means explain your reasoning, of course ("transparency is a dependency of trust" applies to any kind of computational system, including the kind that sits between our ears), but it should be clear that it's your reasoning, not someone (or something) else's.

It’s pretty transparent at my company that no one in the engineering hierarchy has any authority over the physical plant, not even the CTO.

Hmmph. Couldn't data be "I asked n employees what they thought of x, and y% of them said they strongly approved of the idea"? I once included a statement like that in a complaint about a wrongheaded decision involving company-paid meals, and the decision was subsequently reversed.

This is true, it’s why you go to your doctor and say, “my back hurts I want a standing desk,” then the doctor writes you a note which says “Jim seems to have back pain and a standing desk would help.”

wow that is pretty dystopian

But it's true anyway

Thanks. I stopped reading the article here:

> Research, however, suggests that warnings about sitting at work are overblown, and that standing desks are overrated as a way to improve health.

Who cares what research says. If someone says it helps them and they prefer it to sitting, that is enough proof for me.

Turns out, you and the author agree...

> Sit-stand desks are not exactly inexpensive, but like many things in life, they’re fine if you like them. And if it helps alleviate some back and neck pain, so much the better. It’s just that most people probably don’t need them.

See, and here lies the issue with an article like this, it's wishy-washy. I've been reading the NYT for years, and it's not just the NYT that does this: write committed non-committal pieces with lots of words, sort of like an English essay in university. Good thing this is non-committal standing-desk wordplay and not politics, this time!

It doesn't actually seem very wishy-washy? The article is focused on a single point: standing desks don't provide much health benefit to most people. The conclusion follows: use a standing desk if you like it, not if you've been wrongly convinced that you need it.

What more committed stance would you like the author to take? Since there are limited health benefits, nobody should ever use a standing desk?

That's the problem. What point is the author trying to make? It even says in the article that sitting all day is bad, and that standing desks can help people with neck and lower back problems. That's exactly the point why I have a standing desk. My back hurts from sitting at my computer all day, so alternating back and forth helps. Not being in pain is a significant health benefit to me. People who don't have pain, are proactively preventing back pain problems by using a standing desk.

The only point that I could get out of it, is that standing is not exercise. I don't know anybody who bought a standing desk thinking they are getting exercise...

The point is literally in the title. The health benefits are overrated. That's not a judgment on you for using them. If they benefit you that's great. I don't understand how any of this is a problem and why you take this so personally.

The point of the article was to provide something for the clickbait title to link to. Standing desks have been popular for long enough now that it's apparently time to start writing contrarian articles about them for clicks.

There is definitely a narrative being thrown around that standing desks are "good for you" and "healthy" and that you should use them. This article is significant in that it refutes that.

In some select cases it can help with some select problems, but it is not objectively "good for you" nor "healthy." In fact, the study in question found that too much standing is in fact "bad for you"!

It really is a commonly held belief that standing desks are "healthier" than non-standing desks. Perhaps you don't value knowledge of this sort, but I certainly do.

I don't understand the logic here. Who is advocating for standing all day? The purpose of a standing desk is to give you the ability to alternate between sitting and standing.

You can sit at a standing desk. Even if it's not a mechanical one, you can sit in a taller chair. You don't have to stand all day.

You can't stand up at a sitting desk unless you get a Varidesk or something. But then you have a standing desk.

You even say yourself that a standing desk can help with some select problems. What select problems does a sitting desk solve that can't be solved by sitting at a standing desk? If one helps with some problems, and one doesn't, which is the better option?

And let's not downplay the "select" problems that it helps with. Mainly back pain, nerve problems and posture issues. These are not small, trivial problems for a lot of people.

The point of the article is that you shouldn't treat a standing desk as a magic bullet to fix the "sitting all day is bad for you", and there is no evidence to support that claim.

I dunno about the NYT, but this is something Dr Carroll does a fair bit (I follow him both on his Healthcare Triage YouTube channel, and the Incidental Economist blog). He's not a fan of the "XYZ is the cure to all ills" fads that seem so common these days (not that they're anything new), and it's not uncommon for him to write stuff like this.

Many of his articles could be summed up as: "No, XYZ is not the (best|worst) thing ever. (Eat|do|use) it if you want, in moderation, and don't worry too much about it. Except exercise. Do that."

I will chime in here and say that I found an inexpensive standing desk implementation here: http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dolla...

my post-office-move cardboard boxes, fine-tuned by printing paper packs, beat even that on price.

Ia typical efficiency style of BigCo, some departments in our company have very nice expensive top-of-the-line sit/stand desks issued to everybody and most of the people there never use them for standing, while in other departments like ours one can't get it even after passing through the gauntlet of ergonomic forms and assessments - at the end it happens that they don't have a model suitable, whatever it means, to the office space we're in.

I'm going to put out a guess and say that most of the department with the nice desks have "Manager" or "Director" in the title, and your department is something like software, which is management for purposes of determining overtime exemption and plebs for every other purpose.

It's like the bit about open-plan offices. Management knows they're shit and you can't get work done in them. That's why they have offices of their own. You have to live with them as part of "paying your dues". And because it's an affordable panopticon.

Your comment reminds me of starting work in the Research Laboratories of a once iconic company almost 40 years ago. The lab had a chair with stick-on labels on the back which read, "SARTUN". I was puzzled and after I got to know my office mate (a man in his late 50s) I asked him about it.

Turns out that the company had a policy for the type of desk and chairs people could have. Senior scientists (mostly PhDs) got nice chairs and large desks. The technicians called them the "tunas". The technicians in the lab often had to share desks and had inexpensive chairs. They referred to themselves as "sardines". The BS/MS folks had medium size desks and and so were called "sartun". Mystery solved.

The good news is that after a few years management discovered that ergonomic/repetitive stress injuries increased medical problems and absences. Management instituted individual ergonomic assessments and provided desk/chairs matched to the individual's needs and it made work much better and reduced repetitive stress injuries.

>I'm going to put out a guess and say that most of the department with the nice desks have "Manager" or "Director" in the title

not exactly. It is just "nicer" departments like legal, etc and more important/cool/key projects as the top management see.

>It's like the bit about open-plan offices. Management knows they're shit and you can't get work done in them. That's why they have offices of their own.

oh yes! The most fresh hot-off-the-pan "open" office plans that we've recently got don't repeat a foolish mistake of the open office plans they implemented just a few years ago - the few years ago they put everybody including directors (and sometimes even low ranking VPs) in the "open", while now it is like the old typical cubicle farm where cubicle space for plebs was surrounded by private offices for managers, etc. - only minus actual cubicles (for better inter-plebs collaboration and communication :). Full panopticon for the plebs.

Which should have been the lead of this article, but that would not have sold papers or gotten clicks...

I can't think of many subjects that can't be written in the same manner.

"Research, however, suggests that warnings about smoking are overblown, and that not smoking is an overrated way of improving health."

By that logic, I guess homeopathy is also perfectly proven as effective?

Yes, if someone has a home remedy that gets great results, why switch to a substance from someone in a lab coat?

Exactly, that's what I keep saying about my bear repellent rock I keep on my front porch. Haven't seen a single bear yet.

People whose reactions when confronted with something new, unknown, and unexpected are to laugh at it or respond sarcastically, instead of to accept the surprise, approach with curiosity and humility, and question if there is something they're not understanding, are unlikely to ever discover anything new.

Everything that we call science today was once alternately laughable or mysterious.

Because science isn't about belief, its about reasoning. One person having a good response to something doesn't say anything about that something, that person, or that good response.

Only after things have been repeatedly tested, and alternative explanations thoroughly ruled out, can a claim be considered accurate. Everything was once alternately laughable or mysterious, until it was thoroughly proven to be true. There is a reason why we aren't letting your blood because you have a cold anymore.

Yes, but one person repeatedly having a good response to a thing is good evidence that thing is helpful to that person.

While it's good for society to find and recommend things that are beneficial to most people, we shouldn't prevent people from doing the things that they find helpful.

A closer analogy for a remedy to an illness would be: Whenever your yard gets overrun with bears, putting a rock on the porch makes them go away for an unknown reason. Don’t let yourself be limited by science, which is bounded by human intelligence.

Your employer wins because you're spending less time worrying about bears.

My employer wins because I spend less time thinking about whether I would benefit from a sit/stand desk...at the very least. I suspect I get a real productivity advantage from it at times.

And both of you lose because you're purposefully dismissing the value of research and making decisions based on ritual and conformity.

I think you meant your reply to go to the homeopathy comment. Unless you have specific research into the effectiveness of bear-repellent rocks.

One person randomly having a favorable outcome doesn't tell you if a result is great, let alone even exists.

Fair - correlation does not mean causation. That being said, countless experiments show placebo can have empirical results; even the simple belief in a remedy can improve healthcare outcomes.

Honestly, I see these sort of comments on here all the time and it drives me nuts. Comparing homeopathy and a standing desk is comparing apples and oranges. Everyone has experience with standing - we evolved to do this. Taking homeopathy remedies to cure illness is not something we evolved to do, so we do not know what the potential downsides may be.

Another reason this is comparing apples to oranges is the potential downside risk given the difference in unknowns. Again, what is the downside risk of standing instead of sitting? Maybe sore feet, maybe a sore back, you'll know when you try it. What is the downside risk of treating your cancer with homeopathy? Maybe it doesn't work and you die. Not even in the same ball park.

When these things are in the same ball park: we know the risks involved and the risks are small. Under these circumstances, my argument stands: if someone likes taking homeopathy remedies when they get a cold and it is not a financial burden on them, who cares what they do. The only risk is having this same attitude toward homeopathy regardless of the ailment you are treating and then people start dying.

You are right about standing and so many other things. The problem :) with open offices thouhgh is that noise is not a like/dislike thing. You can't choose whether you can concentrate in a noisy envirnoment or not. And oh, you are not offered to choose between open office or not. Some guy decided it and imposed it to you.

You are the one signing to an open office job, after all.

Although during the interview, how do you assess just how noisy the open office is going to be? The interviewer will likely say, "it's not very noisy".

Actually no, I'm not. In most of the times I've been in such places, it was after the company moving.

But but, you have to be ideologically invested in everything you do. and you have to fight those barbaric sitters!

True, but anecdotal data are also useful. I came to this thread to see what a bunch of other deep thinkers think about standing desks and if they have any stories to tell. For my part, I made one some years ago, and have found it to be invaluable, not because of the standing, but because it's uncomfortable to stand but not distractingly so, which keeps me moving around a bit and shifting positions and taking short breaks while I work. Although the same is true about sitting down at a desk, but it's easier to do these with a standing desk which encourages me to do them more often than when I'm sitting.

Meanwhile there's a few enterprising companies peddling $1,000+ desks all on the VC's (Saudi Arabia's?) dime.

I like laying in bed with comfy blanket and air-conditioner with temperature set to simulate Swiss winter while working.

I've no desire to sit or stand.

Dell XPS running Debian works fine in this environment.

Unfortunately, office can't provide me this. So i am working remotely now.

My brain is lot less efficient in other environment probably because I've high amount of North European genetic material and my brain is most efficient in low temperature, maybe there is some evolutionary reason behind this.

> maybe there is some evolutionary reason behind this.

This mechanism for which you speak is known as "placebo"

This kind of thinking extends to the sort of Reddit/HN comments that think they're tearing down someone's argument by pointing out a single exception. It's some sort of "gotcha" culture.

Imagine how ridiculous discourse would be if we couldn't make a claim without enumerating every single possible exception, or if every claim had to be prefixed with "there are exceptions, but."

Absolutely insufferable. Almost wish there was an HN guideline "don't respond to someone's general claim by attacking a single exception" so we can respond to those comments with the same level of banality.

> or if every claim had to be prefixed with "there are exceptions, but."

I don't think that's ridiculous. Why not? People shouldn't be making trash general claims - now you say "don't point out exceptions"? so what's such a claim worth?

I think I see the problem here (with the comments).

The main problem is that in order to claim something is "overrated", you have to have some idea of the "rating."

So perhaps most of the other commenters were enlightened and knew exactly what the benefits were.

Not me. Like (perhaps) the author, I thought sitting is really, really bad for you: for your heart, for your long term mobility, for your health. And that standing will alleviate these issues.

Under my model, it wasn't just that moving was good and not moving was bad. I thought that specifically sitting was the worst form of non-movement (over lying down and standing).

I can't tell you where I got this but I had read a lot of "sitting is the new smoking" type articles.

Now this author tells me that is not the case, and there was no proof of it being the case.

This is news to me. I had the correct "rating" for this article and it turns out I had "overrated" standing desks.

If you already know all this, then of course it was not "overrated" for you.

I think the premise of the article/implication is we went from "Sitting is the new smoking" ("and therefore you should quit - by Standing more" => "Standing is the new nicorette") to "Standing is the new Penicillin!

If you accept the premise, the headline and conclusion makes sense. Standing ISN'T a replacement for exercise. There are ways to stand that will cause independent medical issues in joints.

But, like you, I'm also dubious of the premise. While standing (or actually adjustable) desks are all the rage, I don't see an obsession over the concept approaching other overrated cults like crossfit, or keto.

Your comment reminds me of the narrator's struggle to define "Quality" in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Ask and ye shall receive. Article has a 77 OwlFactor rating: https://news.owlfactor.com/article/0-4279868/4279868-Why%20S... :)

This article is by a pediatrician, not a physical therapist or a subject matter expert. The article basically consists of the author pointing to some studies on the subject and concluding that there's not yet definitive, decisive evidence as to the long-term benefits of standing desks. Anyone who reads about standing desks knew that already. And, as someone who is known amongst friends and colleagues for using one, I've had numerous cases of people saying "Welp WhompingWindows, your standing desk is pointless, I saw a buzzfeed article about how a single study from North Dakota State said they're not great."

The title of this post and the the title of the article are not justified. The author's take-home in the final paragraph is that standing is not exercise, but standing desks may help those with back or neck pain and some people just prefer it. So, really, there's no evidence here to support the "Overrated" claim in the headline.

Like every post I see on standing desks, or anything with a controversial/contentious set of studies/proponents, each writer can select whichever set of studies from the vast array that conforms to their viewpoint. Those studies that disagree with the final conclusion? Better point out potential confounders, non-causal links, selection bias, etc. Drag out the usual methodological suspects to invalidate an opinion you don't agree with. It's easy to straw-man, though it's also easy to go to the discussion and just copy the authors' own assessment of their studys' weaknesses.

This happens all the time in science like epidemiology, you're not an epidemiologist if you haven't made a dozen complaints about an article's methods before considering its ramifications. Even Einstein - despite the evidence to the contrary, he could not accept some of the quantum-mechanical conclusions that his work helped bring about.

The "overrated" claim is that standing desks address the health concerns of sitting too much (a claim that I have heard many, many times). There is no evidence to support that claim. Your third paragraph accuses the author of cherry-picking the studies. Is there an example of a study you feel they should have included that supports your accusation?

The author is not claiming to be a subject matter expert. The fact that they are a pediatrician is irrelevant. Their argument is well sourced, and "even" a pediatrician is able to read and understand papers in adjacent medical fields.

Dr Carroll is also known for the Healthcare Triage YouTube channel, which has numerous video explainers on topics like how to critically evaluate the strength of studies, the dangers of cherry-picking data, etc.

There is some evidence[0], but people expect magic bullets, when the reality is that small gains here and there are useful. The only magic bullets I've found are cutting out refined sugar and heart pumping exercise at least 15 minutes a day, and ideally an hour.

If it matters, my back pain largely went away when I switched to working while standing for three or four hours a day.

[0] E.g., http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3740

The linked article makes no claims about health outcomes - instead, the participants in that study reported feeling better, which contributes to the reported improvement in health-adjusted life years.

In fact, there was no difference in BMI reported between the standard condition and the intervention designed to decrease sitting time.

I don't know this literature much, but a separate analysis of the same study may show improved cardiometabolic risk profiles in workers who are encouraged to stand more often[1].

1. https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00005768-201803000-000...

Sorry? I didn't mention BMI. I was referring to life year gains.

> Life years (LY) gained is a measure in health economics. It expresses the additional number of years of life that a person lives as a result of receiving a treatment.

And a 1% increase in LY after a 12 month intervention isn't a silver bullet, but it's nothing to sneeze at.

Is there better evidence in favor of the 1 mph treadmill desks?

I actually have a Varidesk so I can alternate periodically because I found that I was much more tired towards the end of the day if I sat all day. Also experienced a lot of back discomfort. A lot of my motivation for getting the standing desk was that it seemed like an easier option than one of the really expensive chairs that are out there.

I still use the standing desk every now and then, but after seeing some recommendations I ended up getting a Bungee chair from The Container Store and it's really solved all of the issues that drove me to a standing desk in the first place with a reasonable price point.

I have a sit-stand desk, which is fairly common in Denmark. Last time I spoke to an ergonomicist, she said the most important things was to change position. Standing all day isn't great either.

I'm trying to start a habit of raising the desk before leaving for lunch, and before leaving at the end of the day.

I bought the Ikea sit-stand desk for home, since I find I waste less time at the computer if I don't sit in front of it.

What is your point? You criticize the author for claiming there is no evidence that standing desks improve health, yet you provide absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

That’s not how the burden of proof works. The author claims that they’re “overrated”, yet doesn’t provide evidence to support that claim.

We shouldn’t be so used to headlines not matching up with article content, but then again, it’s 2018.

I think he does provide enough evidence. He provides studies that show no difference between sitting and standing in regards to cardiovascular health.

He even provides an alternate hypothesis, that 'sitting' is a marker of poor health decisions not the cause of it.

I'm not sure what evidence you are looking for?

I'm looking for evidence that it's "overrated". "Overrated" here means they're valued as a tool to improve cardiovascular health, when they don't provide that benefit.

I've never actually seen a standing desk advertised, or even recommended, as a tool for improving cardiovascular health. So I don't see how they can be "rated" as such.

I use a standing desk sometimes because it breaks up the monotony of sitting, and because sometimes I want to stretch my legs. It does well in that regard, and that's what I see them being advertised for.

The sitting desks are overrated. There is not enough evidence to support the claim that sitting desks improve health. Sitting desks are a ploy by chair manufacturing industry to make you buy expensive chairs even though all experts agree that sitting does not replace exercise.

If there's little to no proven benefit then the claims are absolutely overstated. What's your point?

I'm with you on this. I had two surgeries caused by injuries from sitting too long/much. I switched to a sit/stand desk and began doing PT exercises which resulted in a general improvement in my quality of life and resulted in my doctor saying a planned possible third surgery was not going to be necessary. It's like any other lifestyle choice, those choices do have effects. They may not be absolute and they may be different for different people, but if it works for you it works for you. It's silly for people to crap all over us for doing something that we have directly experience an improvement in our lives and work from.

It's clickbait "news" and "studies". So much of the media and "science" is useless people doing useless nonsense just to make money.

"Why you shouldn't work remotely". "Why you shouldn't drink coffee". "Why you should drink coffee". "Vaping is better than cigarettes". "Vaping worse than cigarettes".

It's a never ending assembly line of garbage because they need to push out garbage every day.

"Publish or perish" has ruined academia, much of science and the media.

Also, anything can be "overrated". It is a subjective term. The article doesn't tell us anything of any value. What did we learn? Someone thinks standing desks are overrated. Okay. Who cares? Is that worthy of an article in the nytimes?

Well, obviously it's not a replacement for exercise. Was anyone ever claiming that? Because I'd think it's fairly obvious that standing still doesn't exactly burn the calories off. The key is moderation, like with everything. Alternate between sitting and standing.

This past year I've started to get problems with my legs caused by sitting. Exercise relieves it, but the aches return when I sit down again. I just spend too much time sitting down (I work remotely as a programmer, and I'm also a musician). Swapping to alternating sitting/standing makes a big difference in this regard, and I had hoped to get a new desk 6 months ago, but due to house purchase trouble (and the fact my flat is too small to swap out this desk); I'm still stuck at my current desk. Hopefully it won't be too much longer now; I do worry what permanent damage is happening. Sit/stand desks have an added bonus of letting you adjust the height of the desk when sat down, which makes a big difference.

Chair choice is a big part of it. I do think pretty much all office chairs are designed wrong, in that they have a solid base and a cushion on top. Once you bottom-out (hurr) the cushion, you're sat on a hard surface, and that's most likely part of my issue. Aeron chairs are good in this regard, in that they're a suspended mesh with no hard surface underneath.

I quite like sitting on the floor as well, and I'm hoping to accommodate for that in my office design for my house. I think a wider variety of positions could only help to spread the strain.

Honestly there is absolutely no need to splash out on expensive standing desks. I literally have two upturned plastic crates on my desk to support my monitor, and then two stacks of books to support my keyboard and also my mouse. Total cost about 5$. The important point is to make sure the height of the boxes or whatever you use is adjusted to eye level and roughly elbow level for the keyboard.

The only downside is if you want to switch between sitting and standing, but frankly it's easier to just use a laptop for sitting for a little while until you get used to standing for longer.

I've no idea why you were downvoted. The idea of a $20 solution for trying-out a standing desk (two crates upturned and a plank of wood on top) vs. a commitment of $300-$400 seems like a worthwhile contribution.

And as far as a criticism of it being "wobbly" -- i've seen automobiles perched on top of plastic milk-bottle crates. Not that I'd recommend it, but surely one will safely hold a relatively breezy laptop and a monitor (15kg total?)

Amazon even sells a multi-level cardboard standing desk for $25 that's perhaps a touch more attractive than a milk crate: https://www.amazon.com/Spark-Ergodriven-Perfect-Standing-Med...

So give it a try. See if a more neutral head-up posture and straight spine are agreeable. If so, consider an upgrade to a "real" standing desk. If not, no real risk or loss.

Personally I have indeed already tried this, and it worked very well for me, hence why I'm planning on getting a proper desk. However the cheap setup is massively inconvenient in my flat, hence why I've not been using it much. I pretty much only have one place I can sit (my desk) so I have to constantly disassemble/reassemble it, which is annoying!

Ikea has a motorized desk now for about $400: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S49022538/

It's slightly wobbly at max height, but otherwise not bad.

Many people, myself included, want sit-stand desks that don't wobble. That's where the cost comes in. https://jakeseliger.com/2015/01/24/geekdesk-max-sit-stand-de...

I've never seen a stack of textbooks wobble. Although they might cost more than the desk!

Bracing it against the wall is sufficient in my experience.

> it's not a replacement for exercise. Was anyone ever claiming that?

Not directly, but part of their popularity does seem to be a response to studies showing that exercise doesn't offset sitting. There were a few pretty convincing results in a row concluding that extended sitting is harmful in itself, regardless of exercise frequency. Given that many other studies show extended standing is also bad, I think the question worth investigating here is whether position changes offset that or whether interspersing actual movement is required. (More speculatively, a major leg-bouncing habit or an 'active' base for sitting or standing might help.)

> Sit/stand desks have an added bonus of letting you adjust the height of the desk when sat down, which makes a big difference.

This is reason enough for me to value a sit/stand desk - even if I never stand up, the ergonomics of controlling desk height are a huge benefit. Guides to adjusting chair height for that are fine, but I want to adjust my chair relative to the floor so that my feet lie flat, then my desk to my chair. (And then, ideally, my monitor and keyboard separately also).

I agree that bad chairs are almost certainly a big factor, in the ways you describe. Circulation issues and back pain are two of the biggest issues with sitting, and they match up to pressure from the chair bottom and poor lumbar support. In addition to the padding issue you mentioned, chairs with back support are usually worse for me, because the back support is often fixed in place and only correct for people of one specific height. Either getting a high quality chair or being able to change positions often seem like the most obvious improvements.

>due to house purchase trouble (and the fact my flat is too small to swap out this desk); I'm still stuck at my current desk.

Have you considered a standing desk converter for your existing desk (e.g. from Varidesk, though there are quite a few other vendors out there with more reasonable pricing)? It's made a huge difference for me in some situations where the existing desk could not be swapped out.

Have you considered a standing desk converter for your existing desk

When I wanted to try a standing desk, I just put my desk on some breezeblocks...

If you work at home, it should be easy to run through a quick stretching workout at some point during the day. I can't recommend Peter Attia enough for this:


I do some version of the above before every weight workout (so almost every day). And, I'll do some other version randomly throughout the day when I need a break.

Just in case you haven't done it yet, go see the doctor when you get those aches, since they might not be benign. One of the darker sides of sitting all the time is haemostasis: your blood isn't moving enough. That's a condition which can lead to deep venous thrombosis - blood clots. You really, really don't want a DVT. Stay hydrated and move - preferably every 20-30 minutes.

Try just taking a walk every hour before you shell out for a desk that may or may not help you. It is much easier to maintain focus for a whole day if you take small breaks every hour as well, and it helps with eyestrain to focus at far distances if you are in front of a monitor all day.

Haha. So I have a standing desk at work and at home, I do it because it keeps me much more alert, and helps with my back not hurting after sitting for 8 hours.

I don't get how we always go back to debating the medical merits of this, when why don't we just worry about what makes the employee more comfortable? Expense wise, an average standing desk isn't terribly more expensive than a normal desk OR some of the chairs companies are buying for people to be more ergonomic.

Because I constantly see arguments that sat "you should use a standing desk because sitting is killing you". And not so many "you should try a standing desk, some people think they're more comfortable".

Because people get bored reading articles with neutral tone. We are talking about a choice of desk, after all. Extremes in language are much more satisfying to read, consciously or not, and the ad money proves this.

Best strategy is just drinking enough that you need to hit the restroom with reasonable frequency. You stay hydrated and get well-timed walking/headspace breaks. Win-win.

Anecdotal, but be wary. I drank a lot of water for a long time (120+ ounces a day of water, plus whatever else I would drink). I was constantly thirsty and was worried I had diabetes. It turns out I was drinking _too_ much water and was flushing out valuable electrolytes from my system. Drinking less paradoxically left me feeling quenched, but it took a doctor's visit and blood work to resolve.

Just as a counter anecdote, I drink about 6-8 litres over the course of a day (generally 2 litres in morning before I go to work, 4 during work and 1-2 after work) and have never experienced this. Bear in mind I do 1.5 hrs cardio when I get up, maybe this makes me thirstier throughout the day. Only time I ever had symptoms of over-hydration (very similar to symptoms of dehydration, classic one is a headache) was when I was drinking over 10 litres per day.

Yep, I would often get a headache and think, "boy I should drink some water!" and it didn't go away. But then I would eat a salty snack and it improved.

I'm getting more active, but still not great yet. Good to know it's something that flexes with activity.

If you are physically active with either intense cardio or weightlifting 3-5+ hours a week, you need to eat enough that 120 ounces is basically the starting point the proper hydration.

As with most things physiological, the system is a balancing act with a lot of independent variables that need to be taken into account. If you eat two meals of 800-1k calories each, and you don't work out, a gallon of water a day is probably way too much. You may be mildly dehydrated but you'll feel just as bad flushing out the electrolytes as you mentioned. But if you're working out consistently, building muscle, and eating 3k-4k calories a day to support that level of activity, 180-200 ounces of water a day is nothing.

Good to know. I've been intentionally getting a lot more active and have had to fight a bit of thirst for fear of repeating my folly. I won't be so afraid to drink a bit more.

It also helps to spread the drinking out (which makes it harder to do IMO unless you're pretty diligent). Anecdotally I feel much better drinking slightly less water but spread throughout the day as opposed to drinking the "right" amount of water but 2+ full glasses at a time.

Interesting. I've actually developed a Lacroix addiction and feel constantly thirsty. Maybe I should tone it down a little...

Indeed, you have to be careful not to overdose on water. More people die from too much water than too little.

You don't need to be particularly careful. Apparently, the stats show the vast majority of deaths from overhydration in normal individuals are the result of water-drinking contests or exercise-related overhydration in ultramarathons and similar

Is this real? Are there people sitting at their desk at work drinking themselves to death with water?

This is my strategy as well. Keep a Nalgene topped up with water and pee like 10 times a day. Coworkers might raise an eyebrow, but who cares. It works great because of the power of habit--it's easy to sip a little bit of water every few minutes, and then of course you're forced to get up and move around/pee when the urge is strong enough.

I used to do this but meetings became unbearable with the urge to pee striking every hour.

I use this strategy, but still find the sit/stand desk useful. Certain types of work are best done in a standing position with my "Rhythm Energy" playlist playing through headphones.

This is why I only drink my water out of a coffee cup. You don't have to worry about flushing all electrolytes and you also get up more frequently to refill your water in the first place.

For some reason I can't drink cold liquids out of an opaque cup. It feels really weird to me to drink water or juice out of a mug, it needs to be in a glass or clear water bottle.

Are you my cat?

Because I disagreed with the conclusions of the article, I submitted this article to the HN community for assessment.

Many of the responses here call into question the article's apparent position, especially as regards its inflammatory title, and these responses reflect my own opinion and experience.

I expressed my objections as a comment to the article, reproduced here for convenience. [0]

> I've been a long distance runner all my life, hovering at a 7:30 pace. In my mid 40s I began getting pain in my legs while running. Increasingly, I could not run more than 3 miles at a time without injuring. My pace went to 8:30 or slower.

> Almost 2 years ago, I went to physical therapy and my doctor prescribed a standing desk. 1 hour standing; 1 hour sitting.

> Part of the problem according to my doctor is that my legs were tightening while sitting. Intermittently standing and stretching was not enough to offset what sitting was doing to my leg and back muscles.

> Since receiving a standing accessory at work and acquiring a motorized desk at home, my injuries have disappeared.

> Of course the stretching exercises I continue to do as directed by my physical therapist help. But stretching by itself did not work as I grew older.

> The combination of stretching exercise and alternating standing and sitting afforded by a standing desk has helped me recover from my injuries.

> My running pace has hit 7:20 and declining.

> Dismissing the potential benefit of standing desk as an expensive luxury is about as advisable as dismissing a doctor's visit as unnecessary use of health care.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/upshot/why-standing-desks...

The article that you are commenting on specifically states that standing desks aren't an improvement for cardiovascular health. The article also states that standing desks can help ergonomic issues.

The article you posted shows that a standing desk can help ergonomic issues, it doesn't mention cardiovascular health.

You are right that the article clarifies the lack of relationship between cardiovascular health and standing.

My point is that for me the two are interlinked.

I could not run due to musculoskeletal issues from sitting. Being able to alternate between standing and sitting addressed these issues and allowed me to resume (improve) my running.

I don’t have enough expertise to evaluate if the studies cited by the author account for the relatonship between ergonomics (musculoskeletal effects) and cardiovascular health, but I do believe in my specific case the two are inextricably linked.

EDIT: spelling

The article seems very dismissive and hand-wavy to me. It doesn't really address a walking desk at all, but seems to conflate standing and walking as the same thing.

My doctor suggested I use a treadmill desk after I had a bad episode of nerve pinch in my back and sciatica during a crunch time. I bought one and loved it. There were some minor practical issues using it at work, but none related to over-walking or anything like that. Personally, I doubt it's possible to over-walk at work with a treadmill desk, like the author of the article implied.

I'm a runner as well, and I've tried a standing desk (as opposed to a walking desk) a few times, and while some people love it, my feet start to hurt very quickly when I just stand (after 10-15 minutes). Even if I use running shoes and a soft standing mat, and even if I shift my feet & weight a lot (or not). I don't have that problem at all while walking at a treadmill desk.

If you occasionally come by the lastest findings in research, as one is want to do on HackerNews, and have also sat center court at a tennis match, you'll realize that both experiences are pretty much the same.

I don't know if this is the replication crisis rearing it's head or not, but being a casual observer of research is too much of a roller coaster for me to try to "optimize" my life based on the latest findings.

In reality, it seems there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to a general guide to live well: try to get a good night's sleep, abstain from drugs if you can, eat healthy foods while maintaining a slight calorie defecit, and get some exercise every once in a while. Outside of that it seems like you're playing with margins.

My main motivation for buying a standing desk would be saving my back from constant pressure. CTRL+F "back" in this article tells me that the author did not care at all about back problems and thought people bought standing desks to exercise. I already exercise in my spare time and commutes.

Yeah I can't understand this. I've been in constant lower back pain for years, with it getting considerably worse over the last 12 months. All of the experts have told me that it is some condition or other primarily caused by (and definitely exacerbated by) sitting for extended periods of time.

I literally haven't sat in an office chair for longer than 20 mins for the last 12 weeks and my back is so much for the better.


I read this exact part. Who does not suffer back pain after hours of sitting? If it does not hurt, does it mean it is still good to be sitting all the time? no. The author sounds like back pain is not a typical problem and that exercise is a huge part of the reason people use standing desks.

Who doesn't? Me, for a start.

I've honestly never understood the standing desk thing. I mean if it alleviates back pain or just makes you happy, sure. Why not?

It's not a given that everyone suffers back or neck pain from sitting though.

sample size of one, but I have suffered lower back pain for about 15 years. It is always there, but worse some times than others. When it is bad, I cannot sit in the chair for more than a couple of minutes. Standing at the desk (well a box on a desk that my laptop goes on) the pain is reduced so can at least get a days work done.

Raises hand, another one who's back doesn't hurt while sitting.

Anecdotally, me. At least since I bought a proper office chair (Leap v2), I can sit all day with no back pain. If I sit for several hours without moving I may be a little stiff when I stand up, but no pain. Just a reminder that I'm old and I shouldn't be sitting for three-four hours straight.

I never suffer back pain from sitting. Expert chair sitter here. Well over 30,000 hours in the game. Been sitting 10+ hours/day for 15 years now. Only thing that ever hurts significantly for me is my neck - which comes from poor posture and it's fixed by being just slightly conscious about it.

So maybe you experience back pain but not everyone does.

Purely anecdotal, I had developed some back and neck pain a few months ago from sitting too long at work. I did some workouts (freeletics) and within 1-2 weeks all the problems went away.

So does the New York Times owe an apology and a correction for this article? "Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”" https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.... And this one? "Too much time spent in a chair could shorten our lives, even if we exercise" https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/well/move/get-up-stand-up...

I just find it disconcerting that the New York Times publishes an article like this, without any acknowledgement that it has been pushing a different conclusion for the past eight years. I get that that this article is from a different author, but when people go to the New York Times, they are usually trusting the overall institution and editorial controls more than the byline. I also get that new studies comes in and the evidence changes -- but that still requires some sort of acknowledgement that they were wrong before.

At work, I hate sitting (despite owning a couple very specific chairs that I'm actually comfortably in) and I also hate standing.

Both seem to keep my body/mind tense - which is at odds with the deep focusing/relaxation I need for working on creative solutions for long stretches of time.

Very recently I discovered the wonders of beanbags, reclinable armchairs, and so on. I might even try a hammock one day. All these mix well with wireless keyboard/trackpad + a projector.

Looking forward to build my next-gen home office in this style (current sofa/projector combo is just me squatting the office event room).

How do you deal with sleeping? Every time I sit somewhere with my head supported, I begin to drift off. Doesn't matter if I slept in, or if I've had two cups of coffee. If my head is stabilized, it's over for me.

Ha ha, sounds like a good problem to have :)

Can't help sadly, generally computers will leave me well awake for at least a couple hours since the moment I'm done.

I suspect people aren't going to read the entire article or are going to be put off by the rather aggressively-opinionated title.

I was expecting a more extreme conclusion than:

- Sitting all day isn't great, but just sitting won't kill you

- Standing all day isn't great, but just standing won't kill you

- Standing isn't exercise

- As long as you exercise and take breaks during the work day, it doesn't really matter if you sit or stand

The last point is not mentioned in the article at all.

It is, "Too much sitting over the course of a day is not healthy — let’s be clear. And as I’ve written before, exercise is the closest thing to a wonder drug. Few things provide such a health benefit."

Interesting. I'm always a fan of research challenging wisdom, although I'm not sure who really thought standing alone was exercise. I've found greatly improved comfort with my standing desk at work and I want to upgrade my home desk once I move. I hope that the lack of evidence for specific health improvements doesn't encourage companies to stop offering the desks.

I'm waiting for the desks with integrated threadmill and bicycle.

Ooof, apparently no one wants sweaty and loud coworkers.

Treadmill desks are already a Thing. Haven't seen one in a big corporate office, yet, however.

Maybe not ironic, since walking is exercise :-)

I've seen some in offices, but they are shared resources that you can use as needed instead of someone's permanent desk.

If they can solve head and arm bob, I'm all in.

I do not see why it has to ever be an all or nothing when it comes to desks. At work, we have adjustable desks, which can electronically be adjusted to sitting or standing positions.

I alternate between sitting and standing every hour or so, combined with small walks around office between shifting positions (say to the cafeteria or washroom or the game room). When I get off my desk, I make it a point to focus on some point far away to ensure my eyes get a break from simply staring at a screen 2 feet away from me.

Combining this along with ensuring I consume enough water through the course of the day (in AC environments, a very common cause of headaches/neckaches is simply dehydration) means I can ensure that I get to operate productively through the day.

Don't see why people get so paranoid about having to be in a single position for 8 hours a day. The human body simply ain't made for that!

By chance the treadmill to go with my sit/stand desk arrived today.

Having used a height adjustable desk some years ago I'd sort of written them off. I can't use one all day on its own, I find the blood just pools in my legs after a while and I just want to sit down.

Equally though I've also suffered sciatica in the past which I attribute to sitting for hours and hour before a log commute driving. It was agony. So to break things up I've got my own treadmill desk for my home office.

I'm walking right now as I type this. I can feel that my heart rate is definitely slightly raised but not so much I"m likely to start sweating. All in all seems pretty good so far.

I dislike standing desks but I sincerely recommend trying the following:

Buy yoga pants (lulu mens pants look good enough that I wear them for almost everything), take off your shoes, and sit like you used to sit when you were a kid: Sit cross legged, sit on your legs, sit 'normally', and let yourself move around and change positions and fidget naturally.

Over time I have found this much more intuitively comfortable than a sitting or standing desk, and being able to fidget more easily helps me think, just like going for walks helps me think. Point being: try stuff out! Maybe you'll find something more comfortable than the status quo, faddish or not.

My wife and I who both work at our desks, on computers for a significant portion of the work day, use "ball chairs": https://www.gaiam.com/products/classic-balance-ball-chair?va...

These chairs have helped with my leg and foot numbness/cold issues. I couldn't imagine working at a standing desk on days when my energy isn't 100% - which as a father and business owner is like ... every day.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Gaiam - but given how many clients ask about my chair ... I should!

I use a standing desk and my primary purposes are to keep myself more alert and to alleviate back pain. It is the single biggest improvement to back pain that I have found.

As for health, like the article says, the most important things are keep up a good diet (eat just enough, eat as many whole foods as possible, vary what you eat) and exercise.

I also would like to recommend https://fluidstance.com/ which is a board that wobbles to go with a standing desk. This has further improved the benefits to my back and general alertness while working.

I've seen a great connection between how happy people feel about their workspaces and how happy they feel they are in are them, physically and mentally.

When on-boarding in my first regular job, we received a couple of hours training in how to adjust you chair from the health-and-safety manager.

Fantastic training, him spinning around a chair showing how everything can be adapted, optimal eye, leg, waist, elbow height, the company gym instructor visiting demonstrating cases of how necks can get bent forward just by looking at a screen for a couple of years, the company doctor telling stories of the results of not complaining about feeling uncomfortable, and the lawyer telling us that this advice is useful coz we're giving it to you now, don't forget it.

I've worked in a lot of other places since. Some have been more haphazard/freedom-giving in implementing a comfortable desk and I'm a fan of that: Put a stack of paper under the monitor. Have a footrest instead of adjusting the chair. Bring in a fishtank and have some (real) fish (not a screensaver) swimming past you while you work, go to the gym for an hour when there aren't meetings, lots of plants, do a standing desk on empty paper boxes, bring a camping bed to store under your desk and take a nap after lunch on it. Pretty free workspaces.

What I've seen work, and not work, and work better, and this is complete anecdote: Colleagues that have the training to have been informed of best practices, and have an idea of the optimal 'springiness' setting to set their chair to have fun with their chair have freedom with their chair. Companies that do that then then also allow their employees to choose how to setup their environment are more productive, committed and a lot happier.

Open-office environments are actually OK for this. But not hot-desking ones. Feeding your fish is 2-3 minutes of not staring at a screen or typing, refreshment. Knowing the cleaner will throwaway a present for a colleague if you're not cleaned your desk in the evening is a prison. Having plenty of small meeting rooms available can provide peace and privacy.

And a quick nap on a colleague's borrowed camping bed when you're in for a long day, is bliss.

Their results are that standing desks help with back problems, but don't provide cardiovascular exercise - yea, not shit. This is exactly what everyone thought, so I have no idea why this click-baity article exists.

Standing desks don't cure cancer, they don't stop baldness, and they won't do anything for your allergies either, I'm shocked they didn't include these as reasons standing desks are "overrated".

I believe standing at times during the day is useful for the bones, and never really considered it "exercise," at least not the strenuous kind.

One thing I notice though is that folks often push very expensive powered desks that are not necessary. I've been using a relatively cheap drafting table and tall chair with armrests for years and think it is a great way to go. One can stand or sit during the day according to need.

Coming from a blue collar job (I work as an engine repair mechanic) ive never understood standing desks. most of the articles are right up there with either crystal chakra magic or "our ancesters were healthier!" crap.

I stand 6-8 hours a day. so do most of my coworkers. Simple observation of a chubby mechanic or a fat construction worker will tell you that the "standing desks are healthier" line is complete bullshit.

Claims of the health benefits of standing desks are not about weight loss. I don't think I've seen that claimed at all. Claims I've seen most often are back related, blood pooling related, and cardiovascular/blood circulation.

The jury is still out, but subjectively, switching to a standing desk at least a few times a week really helped my posture and back.

Umm, sitting kills. The idea is that a standing desk can let you live longer whatever your body formation.

I don't think that it's sitting that kills. I think it's more the fact that you are less active. You can have the same problem standing all day without moving around.

So either sitting kills by itself and standing up is enough to avoid it, or sitting kills by taking time from being physically active and it's not enough to stand up (which also takes time from being physically active).

Here's some brand-new research based on 1000 people wearing accelerometers 24/7: http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-2928-0/i...

Sedentary behaviour, physical activity, and risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus

"From the accelerometer-derived parameters of SB [sedentary behaviour], a higher number of daily SB bouts lasting over 10 minutes was the strongest predictor of a high CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk."

>For convenience and comfort, it’s nice to have options if you have various aches and pains — “Alternating standing and sitting while using a computer may be useful for some people with low back or neck pain,” he said — but people shouldn’t be under the illusion that they’re getting exercise.

Yeah and how do many people get to having back and neck pain? From sitting all day! Talk to any spine specialist and they'll tell you that. Since I switched to standing most of the day my pain is definitely reduced, and I know I'm burning more calories because I often incorporate more movements than I would typically do sitting. I stretch more often, do a yoga position, whatever, the point is that incorporating movement is much more likely when you're already standing.

There are benefits to standing, for one is increased strength in the legs - just try it, it is a workout and you do burn more calories standing up than sitting down.

Increased cognitive ability is another benefit, due to the increased blood flow.

I think alternating is great, its what i tend to do.

1) Show me that study. Also, varicose veins suggest otherwise. Good muscle tone helps to prevent them. Apparently standing does not provide the right impulse. Yes, you will burn slightly more calories but at what cost?

2) This is even more out there and suspicious claim. Varicose veins form out of impaired blood flow, not improved.

3) Do you mean situps? I heard they are an actual exercise.

The benefits of a standing desk are junk if taken on their own. Standing for extended periods is bad for you, just as is sitting all the time. Your calf muscles behave as a pump for getting blood back to your heart, so when all you do is stand, that pump isn't activated and blood will pool. Just ask people that need to stand for a living.

This isn't a simple solution: our bodies are meant to move, and extended sitting or standing isn't natural.

This just in! Standing is not exercise. I’m glad we cleared up this hotly debated topic.

Standing seems to burn about 50 calories per hour more than sitting [0] and walking burns about 80 calories per mile [1]. So wouldn't a first approximation for the benefits of standing an extra 5 hours per day be the same as walking 3 miles per day?

[0] https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24532996

[1] https://www.verywellfit.com/walking-calories-burned-by-miles...

I stand 3 hours a day on the busses and trains trying to keep balance to and from work, I can’t wait to sit down when I finally get the chance.

I feel like I problem solve better sitting. For meetings I tend to stand but if I’m coding anything nontrivial I sit.

> “Alternating standing and sitting while using a computer may be useful for some people with low back or neck pain,” he said — but people shouldn’t be under the illusion that they’re getting exercise.

Nobody is under the illusion that standing is exercise. What a pointless article.

I actually think standing desks are horrible for knees. So I would agree with the assertion to a certain degree. I have tried it for 4 months and only thing I gained out of it is knee pain.

I have a standing desk. I've heard about how stupid standing desks were, so I went out and bought a highchair. Now I can sit at my desk like a normal person. Thanks, New York Times!

I mean, it's ok for people to like something and others to not like it. Some people like to stand and some people don't.

Standing desks might be but adjustable desks are not. Who wants their neck at the same angle all day everyday for years?

i just like them cause they are a good change of pace for comfort. If im working on code for 5+ hrs, my butt/back gets sore from sitting for so long. Switching to standing for an hour or so allows me to grind longer. In no way do i think that im somehow being healthier for standing

In case anyone wants a different position on standing desks from another NYTer: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/technology/personaltech/t...

That's a treadmill desk...

I really think this comment section is just people reading the article as "Standing desks are bad" and posting any positive thing about standing desks.

The article is, "Standing desks, by themselves, (no treadmill), provide no cardiovascular benefit. In terms of cardiovascular health, sitting maybe a marker not a cause."

That is, people who sit 12 hours a day on average, typically don't exercise and have poor cardio health. Simply standing instead of sitting won't help that, you have to exercise.

The article is quite misleading IMO. It cites bunch of studies which directly conflicts with headline and the author just brushes them off. For other studies which mildly agrees with title, author overblows its important. For example, one study says:

standing or walking for more than six hours a day at work was associated with a doubled or tripled risk of needing surgery

Note that it's 6 hours of standing! Also, important to remember that these are correlation studies meaning that surveyors (I refuse to call them "scientists") sends outs surveys and tries to find statistical correlation. This is much different than real scientific studies, i.e., causal studies, where you try to understand cause and effect of your hypothesis.

One of the major issue in sitting all day is pasture management which causes back pain issues. So it's not about getting cardio exercise (that would be silly) but avoiding long term back pain issues. Also, sit-and-stand desk allows you to adjust height easily which is again important through out the day.

Standing desks should come with anti-fatigue mats like most restaurants have.

Sitting shortens your hip flexors over time. This causes lower back pain.

"Sit-stand desks are not exactly inexpensive, but like many things in life, they’re fine if you like them. And if it helps alleviate some back and neck pain, so much the better. It’s just that most people probably don’t need them." TL:DR

I'm guessing this article was funded by Big Chair.

TL;DR: Sitting too long is bad. Standing too long is bad. Find a balance!

Oh man...these type of overreaching opinions is bound to be controversial.

I bought a standing desk because my ass hurts from sitting down too long and I don't have a lot of flesh down there. I have to use a cushion and eventually that also puts pressure on my back and my ass still hurts.

So I bought a manually operated standing desk on Amazon.ca in order to not hurt my ass from sitting down too long.

Also not good for your prostate health to be sitting down for hours at a time.

But please convince me why I shouldn't stop the pain in the ass.

I work remote. And i lay in bed most of the times.

Somtimes, I am laying in the bathtub with a coke and completing projects on my Dell XPS16 running Debian.

I never felt the need to sit or stand.


What is a zero-gravity desk?

Overrated? Just plain stupid.

The author's bigotry is showing in spades. I don't care if standing all day long is "associated with lower socioeconomic status". Standing makes me feel better, improves my posture, and takes away all the literal physical pains associated with sitting. If this makes me similar to a person working in retail, so be it. Am I supposed to be ashamed of our shared fundamental humanity too?

There is no "bigotry" there... It is an objective fact that (especially in the US) lower socioeconomic status is higher correlated with worse health outcomes. The author is pointing out one of the possible methodological flaws in studies evaluating the health impact of standing while working (i.e. by selecting for folks who stand at work, they are _also_ selecting for people of lower socioeconomic status, and it's likely the socioeconomic factors outweigh the sitting/standing distinction in terms of health).

"Standing makes me feel better, improves my posture, and takes away all the literal physical pains associated with sitting."

This. After using a standing desk for a few years, I only occasionally want to sit (like 5% of the time). And I generally regret it after about 20-30 minutes.

I see a lot of standing desk users with improper monitor or keyboard height, and I think this hurts standing desks' reputation. If these are not correct, you will get neck and/or lower back pain if you use the desk long enough.

Unfortunately, it can be pricey to have a workstation that is ergonomically correct for you, because the keyboard to monitor height distance is much greater in a standing configuration vs. sitting. Convertible options tend to be expensive.

Having a cushy floor mat also makes a huge difference.

I think a lot of sitting desk users also have improper monitor or keyboard height, and many (most, anecdotally) people have atrocious posture. This probably explains a lot of why sitting has a negative reputation.

Personally, standing all day makes my feet tired & sore. I much prefer a well set-up sitting workstation and regular walking breaks.

I think you completely misunderstood the point of that sentence.

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