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A Sit Stand desk is great fun, but does it work?


Standing, sitting, walking or cycling – what’s the best you can do when you are behind your desk?

Sitting is unhealthy. We know that by now. But when you are desk bound it is ratther difficult to avoid. People in the UK between 12 and 64 years old sit are almost 7.5 hours on an average school or working day. 
To avoid a negative effect, is advised to move every twenty to thirty minutes. This is good for your work performance and reduces the risk of overload. There are all sorts of tools available to make you move more behind your desk.

A Sit Stand desk is great fun, but does it work?

In Scandinavia whwer there is a great emphasizes on Workplace Wellbeing, sit-stand workstations are the norm, tells Lesley McKerral of McKellar Office Furniture Glasgow: ‘In Denmark employers are required by law to provide employees of such a desk. Allready five years ago, most of the workstations in the Scandinavian countries are sit-stand workstations. And that trend is now (very, very) slowly coming over to the UK.’

Product photography: photographer Stirling

When sit-stand desks, desk bikes, move stools or balls are seen as the solution, dor they also have an effect?

Sit-stand desk

According to a recent research by the English Loughborough University, just a sit-stand desk is not the solution. Although you do sit less in the office when you are using a sit-stand desk, which is positive, there was also data gathered from the same people, that they sat more at home. With that, the subjects offset the extra activity at work.

Not surprisingly, standing is very tiring. According to a survey by the American Cornell University it costs 20 percent more energy than sitting and it is not necessarily good for your posture. After having been standing behind the desk for a while, most people start leaning or ‘lock’ their bodies. Standing the whole day is not recommended, it is better to alternate bettween standing and sitting. TGood to learn is that standing may well cosy more energy, it has no negative effect on the work performance.

Office bike

To just change between sitting and standing may not be enough. Because in fact, it is not movement. With ‘desk bikes’ or office cycling you can make your legs go around whilst sitting. Great for the blood circulation! But according to research by the American engineer Alan Hedge cycling also has a major drawback. According to him your typing and clicking will be not as fast and therfore productivity will decrease. A group of Dutch and German ergonomists examined what the effect was on mouse movements, typing and reading.

Treadmill desk

As if cycling isn’t enough for you, you can also purchase a treadmill desk. The opinions are divided about the effect of this on the productivity. According to a group of researchers of the University of Tennessee it reduces the fine motor skills (typing and clicking) with 6 to 11 percent. The treadmill desk had no effect on reading and ‘processing speed’. It is suggested however that if you train in working behind a treadmill desk, it can avoid becoming less productive. According to some a four-hour exercise is sufficient, according to the others you almost need thirty weeks. Thereafter, the productivity will increase. 


Levent Caglar, ergonomist at Fira, says to look at the positive developments but is also skeptical. “It is good to look for means by which sitttting can be interrupted. But putting everyone in the office on a desk bike is also not the solution. ” According to Levet changing postures is the most important thing. 
“Standing the whole day is even worse than sitting all day. It is really about that you’re not too long in the same posture.” According to him, a sit stand desk is the best compromise.


How you can get started without having all the above mentioned equipment in the office?

Have a break from sitting at least once per hour with these tips from Levent: 

  • Walk to your colleagues instead of emailing them (better for internal communication as well)

  • Make a phone call? Wander about

  • Go to the toilet on a different floor

  • Discuss thing standing or walking

  • Get your coffee youself instead of letting your colleagues bring it to you

  • Do stretch exersises and behind your desk 

  • And of course: take the stairs instead of the elevator.