If University of Iowa researchers have their way, and hopefully so, our offices promise to look radically different soon. Because, they suggest that replacing sitting desks with sit-stand desks in offices could offer a cost-effective and sustainable approach to reducing sedentary behaviour and fighting obesity.
In this study, employees with sit-stand desks stood 60 minutes or more a day at work compared to their co-workers with sitting desks, and they continued to do so long after their newfangled desks lost their novelty.
Plus, the sit-stand desk users walked an additional six minutes a day at work.
Consequently, the employees with sit-stand desks burned up to 87 more calories a day than their sitting counterparts -- a small but significant amount that researchers say could be important in fighting obesity.
“Our findings are important because they support redesigning the traditionally sedentary office environment as a potentially cost-effective approach for fighting the obesity epidemic,” said corresponding author Lucas Carr, assistant professor at University of Iowa in the US.
The cross-sectional study looked at employee activity over a five-day workweek. Participants had their sit-stand desks for an average of 1.8 years prior to the study.
“This study is unique in that we looked at long-term users of these desks whereas previous studies have examined employee’s sitting/standing habits immediately after being provided a new sit-stand desk, which is not a true test of whether someone will use the desk over the course of their 20- to 30-year career,” Carr said.
The study involved 69 middle-aged, mostly female employees -- 31 using sit-stand desks and 38 using sitting desks--in a variety of office jobs including administrative/clerical, statistical/testing, management, marketing, research, and accounting.
The researchers found that those employees with sit-stand desks stood an hour more a day at work that those with sitting desks. “Office workers sit more than 80 percent of the workday, placing them at increased risk for many sedentary-related pathologies,” the study said.
However, sit-stand desks could change that by offering “a sustainable approach for reducing sedentary behaviour” for office workers whose inactivity puts them at risk for such conditions as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, the researchers said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.