Are standing desks really overrated? A response to the new york times article on sit stand desks

fitterlab blog

Standing to work can increase your productivity.

A study by Nerhood and Thompson in 1994 measured differences in productivity levels, injuries and discomfort in keyboard operators who switched from a traditional desk to a sit-stand desk.


It was observed that there was increased productivity with a significant, 62% decrease in employee-reported discomfort and more than 50% reduction in injuries.



Muscular discomfort before and after using a sit-stand desk (Credit: Adjustable Sit-Stand Workstations in the Office)


Another study by Paul et al in 1995 found that average right foot swelling is reduced in offices with sit-stand adjustable furniture compared with offices with nonadjustable furniture.

This is because standing reduces blood pooling in the lower legs and improves circulation.

Employees at sit-stand adjustable workstations also report feeling more energetic and less tired by the end of the workday. This is due to more frequent standing movement, which reduces muscular tension and improves circulation.

Roelofs and Straker found in a 2002 study that alternating between sitting and standing reduces discomfort and is the preferred posture reported by 70% of the subjects.

Another study by Dainoff in 2002 found that office workers who alternate between sitting and standing showed better productivity. There is good evidence that the use of a height-adjustable worksurface may offer benefits for overall posture, for back problems and for leg circulation.


Hedge and Ray found in their 2004 comparative study of Fixed Height Worksurfaces (FHW) and Electric Height Adjustable Worksurfaces (EHAW) that the majority of users preferred the Electric Height Adjustable Workstation.


Many more users preferred an Electric Height Adjustable Worksurface (EHAW) compared to a Fixed Height Worksurface (FHW). Credit: Effects of an electronic height-adjustable worksurface on self-assessed musculoskeletal discomfort and productivity among computer workers.


A study by Reiff, Marlatt and Dengel 2012 has found an increase in VO2 in students between sitting and standing. Increases in VOwould equate to additional weight loss while standing rather than sitting.


In a study by Pronk et al (2012), participants also reported feeling more comfortable, energized, healthier, more focused, more productive, happier and less stressed as a result of having a sit-stand desk installed at their workstation.


  1. Sitting or standing for computer work – does a negative tilt-keyboard tray make a difference?

  2. Adjustable Sit-Stand Workstations in the Office

  3. Stand Schedule on Spinal Shrinkage in VDT Operators, Designing for the Global Village.

  4. Spinal Shrinkage in Sedentary and Non-Sedentary VDT Jobs

  5. The Experience of Musculoskeletal Discomfort amongst Bank Tellers Who Just Sit, Just Stand or Sit and Stand at Work

  6. Effects of an electronic height-adjustable worksurface on self-assessed musculoskeletal discomfort and productivity among computer workers

  7. The Physical And Psychological Effects Of Standing Desks In Office Workers

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