Standing Vs Sitting At a Desk – Which is Better for You?


Standing vs sitting at a desk, one worker using an ergonomic sit stand desk

Health experts have debated the benefits of standing versus sitting for years. For a while, they thought standing could solve the health problems of all sedentary office workers. But we’ve since learned that throwing away the chair and standing all day isn’t the answer. Sitting and standing for long periods have their pros and cons so which one should you choose? 

So, if this leaves you are wondering if you should stand or sit at work, you aren’t alone. Workers worldwide have considered if a standing desk will deliver the health benefits they’ve heard about. 



Is Standing Better Than Sitting?

There are several health benefits from standing rather than sitting to do your work.  

Researchers at the Institute for Work and Health published a study in 2015 called Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The researchers analysed 47 studies and found serious health effects from sitting all day. A worker who sits for eight hours per day has a higher risk of developing some cancers, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.  The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is almost two times higher if you sit for a prolonged time during the day.  

But standing for long periods isn’t ideal either. A professor at the Institute for Work and Health found that people who stand throughout the day at their jobs have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing heart disease than those people who sit during the day. 

A 12-year study of 7,300 Canadian adults who work 15 hours or more per week and were free of heart disease at the start, found those who had occupations involving prolonged standing had blood pool in the lower limbs causing hydrostatic venous pressure and oxidative stress.  

However, working while standing can have productivity gains. A study in the US found call centre workers who stood were on average 46% more productive over six months compared to the previous six months when they sat.  

Do You Burn More Calories Standing Than Sitting?

Yes, you will burn more calories by standing, but it’s not as many as you might think. An adult will burn an extra 0.15 calories per minute by standing rather than sitting. So, if a 70 kg person stands for six hours a day, they will burn an extra 54 calories than if they sat. 

Is Sitting or Standing Worse For Your Back?

Sitting puts more pressure on your lower back than standing. A small study in 2018 found that people who started using a sit stand desk and counselling to improve their sedentary behaviour experienced a 50% decrease in low back pain

Standing Desks Vs Sitting

Using a standing desk will stop you from prolonged sitting. The main medical benefit of a standing desk is that it lets you switch between sitting and standing throughout the day. 

You may also be more likely to move around more if you are already standing. Rather than using the phone to contact a colleague, you might walk to their desk. 

If you’re using a standing desk for the first time, don’t stand all day. Give your body time to get used to standing by starting with 30 minutes of standing a few times per day. You can then work up to one hour then two-hour blocks of standing. An anti fatigue mat makes standing more comfortable. We recommend one that lets you position your legs and feet at different angles to encourage natural, constant movement.

Make sure you invest in a standing desk that’s easy and quiet to move up and down otherwise you might not change the desk’s position as often as you should.  

Standing is Different to Moving

The opposite to prolonged sitting isn’t standing, it’s moving. Humans are designed to be on the move all the time. Spending several hours in the same position, whether seated or standing, isn’t ideal. The greatest health benefits come from moving throughout the day. As we walk, blood and oxygen circulate more easily throughout our body. Regular exercise can also lower your systolic blood pressure.       

So if you are still debating the pros and cons of standing vs sitting at work, your best chance of a healthy lifestyle is to mix it up. Alternate between standing and sitting and move throughout the day. Take a look at our 7 tips on staying active at work.   

If you’re looking for a sit stand desk, that lets you easily change its height during the day, visit our showroom or call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online and we can help choose a desk that suits your height and type of work.