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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.




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