The ill-effects of sitting for longer hours at the workplace is widely known. But can compensating it by standing neutralize its effects?
A team of Cochrane researchers have analyzed twenty studies to know whether workplace interventions such as sit-stand desk, treadmill and walking.
They found that people who used sit and stand desk, sat between 30 minutes and two hours less and also their duration of sitting reduced. But it did not burn any calories. Even those who stood for longer hours did not find any reduction in their weight.
‘Spending more time standing at work instead of sitting does not reduce the harms of a sedentary lifestyle.’
Also, walking during breaks and hitting the treadmill at the office did not have any effect on the sitting time. Researchers stressed that standing for a prolonged period does not burn calories instead only increases the risk of knee pain and varicose veins.
The study's lead author, Nipun Shrestha from the Health Research and Social Development Forum, Thapathali, Nepal, said, "This Cochrane Review shows that, at the moment, there is uncertainty over how big an impact sit-stand desks can make on reducing the time spent sitting at work in the short term. There is also low quality evidence of modest benefits for other types of interventions. Given the popularity of sit-stand desks in particular, we think that people who are considering investing in sit-stand desks and the other interventions covered in this review should be aware of the limitations of the current evidence base in demonstrating health benefits. We need further research to assess the effectiveness of different types of interventions for reducing sitting time in workplaces in both the short and long term. The evidence base would be improved with larger studies, longer follow-up and research from low income countries."
Co-author Jos Verbeek, from the Cochrane Work Review Group, Kuopio, Finland, said, "It is important that workers who sit at a desk all day take an interest in maintaining and improving their well-being both at work and at home. However, at present, there is not enough high quality evidence available to determine whether spending more time standing at work can repair the harms of a sedentary lifestyle. Standing instead of sitting hardly increases energy expenditure, so we should not expect a sit-stand desk to help in losing weight. It's important that workers and employers are aware of this, so that they can make more informed decisions."