Health and Wellness News

What desk is best: standing vs sitting vs exercise ball?

According to The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, a sedentary lifestyle can reduce your life expectancy – an alarming report for those who sit eight hours a day at a standard “desk job.”  Because of reports like this, standing desks and sitting alternatives (like using an exercise ball as a chair) have grown in popularity over the past few years, but are they really better for you? It depends.

exercise ball office chair

  • Standing desks and exercise balls aren’t a magic weight loss solution.

If weight loss is your main motivation for switching to a standing desk, you’re probably not going to see quick success.  Recent studies show standing burns only eight more calories an hour than sitting.  Considering you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound, it would take 437 hours standing at work to do so.

  • You might get distracted more easily when standing or bouncing.

Especially in the beginning, some desk standers and exercise ball bouncers report getting distracted by leg or back pain from these new positions.  To prevent this, try standing or bouncing for 15-30 minutes at a time, and then slowly build up to a few hours.

  • Standing can help with back strength and posture.

While it depends on the individual, back and neck pain and poor posture often come as a result of sitting for long hours each day.  Standing might relieve some of the pressure, according to research.

  • You might move around more if you’re standing.

Although a direct caloric comparison shows standing doesn’t burn significantly more calories, it’s likely you move around more at a standing desk.  Maybe it’s shifting your feet to find a more comfortable position, or walking over to a coworker’s desk more frequently (you’re already up!), these little movements can add up!

  • Ideally, you switch up standing, sitting, and walking.

According to a UCLA Ergonomic study, “neither static sitting nor standing is recommended.”  Moving around from standing to sitting, and taking short walking breaks is key to reduce back, neck, and other pain caused by sitting or standing for long periods.  To many standing advocates, it seems easier to stay static when sitting.

Have you tried a standing desk? What did you like or dislike about it?  Let us know on Twitter @PartnersUrgCare, and remember Partners Urgent Care clinics are open late and on weekends if you have any after work pain you want to get examined.