New research on standing desks do little for your heart

Do you spend a lot of your working day sitting at a desk?

These days many of us find ourselves spending hours working on a laptop, PC or tablet as part of our jobs.

If you are one of those people, you may have adopted working at a standing desk in the belief that it may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and the like.

But new research from the USA suggests that while they may relieve muscular pain, standing desks do little to protect you from heart disease.

It seems there is no substitute for some regular activity.

Research by a team at Colombia University, conducted on almost 8,000 middle-aged and older adults, found that replacing 30 minutes of sitting time with light physical activity like walking could cut risks of early death by 17 per cent; and up to 35 per cent if replacing it with higher-intensity activity.

While sitting for long hours is proven to be bad for us, simply standing does little to help.

The NHS recommends “walking to a co-worker’s desk” instead of using emails. Its advice is that we do need to reduce sitting time but we also need to take at the very least 150 hours of exercise per week.

Its advice page says: “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.”

In the office, it suggests:

  • take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • stand or walk around while on the phone
  • take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
  • get up and move around at least every 30 minutes

Maybe easier said than done but if you want to keep working and stay healthy it’s something you should consider.