A new report released earlier this week by researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health says that trendy new standing and treadmill desks may not improve your health.
Dr. Jos Verbeek said, “What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable, and not proven good for your health.”
Verbeek and other researchers wrote about their findings in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Studies have shown that too much sitting increases heart failure risk, disability risk and shortens life expectancy, but there is no conclusive evidence that says that standing reverses that.
The study involved 1,125 participants who were evaluated in three trials that monitored the effects of the body when people used sit-stand desks.
They also examined walking strategies, such as walking during breaks to see if it helps burn calories. The researchers also provided new options for workers who want to sit less.
Verbeek said these new findings are not reliable, do not paint a holistic picture of health, and conflict with other conclusions about whether sit-stand desks reduce sitting time.
According to NPR, “The studies were either too small to be significant, the scientists say, or were poorly designed. For example, most were not randomized controlled trials, and the longest study followed participants for only six months.”
For example, a 2005 study from Denmark published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health showed that prolonged standing at work could lead to a higher risk for enlarged veins.
The researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health said there is too little information to make a solid conclusion. They wrote that there is low-quality evidence that shows sit-stand desks can reduce sitting at work. However, the evidence suggesting that workers should take walking breaks is inconsistent. To improve the data, there must be a push from the health community for higher quality research to assess the effectiveness of different types of interventions.
While standing at work is not a bad thing and can help, there just isn’t enough data available to show how much it does. The researchers do agree that standing in moderation is vital.
“There are many trials being conducted at present and their results may change the conclusions of this research in the near future,” wrote the researchers.