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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?




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