If sitting is the enemy, are standing desks proving to be the answer?

    (Zack Seward/WHYY file photo)

    (Zack Seward/WHYY file photo)

    We’ve all heard how sitting is poison.  Recent research has linked it with heart problems, diabetes and even increased cancer risk.

    The quest to avoid the many health perils of sitting too much has brought office dwellers to the standing desk.

    But Anna Medaris Miller, a health and wellness reporter for U.S. News and World Report, who has been following standing desks for some time, says they can come with problems of their own.

    “One of the problems is if you trade sitting all day for simply standing all day. Really the issue is that you’re not moving and the risks associated with that are not necessarily the same but they could be equally as bad for you,” she explains.

    Standing desks do have a lot of potential, but we need to use them correctly in order to reap the benefits, Miller says.

    “If you’re very cognizant of your posture and you’re standing up straight and you have your shoulders back and you’re not leaning to one side or the other then you might be doing your body some favors–but how many of us do that?” Miller says. “So if you don’t have your desk adjusted properly you’re going to set yourself up for a whole new host of problems.”

    Miller recommends trying out bookshelves or other makeshift desks to find out what works for you before investing in a standing desk.

    While the idea that standing throughout the workday can burn calories is true, it’s less about standing and more about movement, she adds. Whether you’re using a standing desk or an old fashioned sitting desk, what we need to avoid is being mostly sedentary.

    One man Miller spoke with, for example, told her about doing squats while warming up food in the microwave as a way to get moving throughout the workday.

    “The bottom line is to try to move more and whether that’s getting up and down more during your work day or if it’s getting out of the office and going for a walk or taking your meetings outside or just making sure that you take the stairs when you go to a different floor–those are all really helpful things and the standing desk isn’t necessarily the end all be all,” says Miller.

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