Despite new research, I’m not getting rid of my standing desk anytime soon

It’s become almost de rigueur for forward-thinking knowledge workers to have a standing desk these days. In fact, some of them have gone so far as to have a treadmill desk – which must take some getting used to.

The reason for this shift is supposed to be health: standing is better for you than sitting, the logic goes, and sitting is the new smoking. Earlier this year, when I left Mozilla and set up as a consultant, I invested in a IKEA Bekant sit/stand desk. I’m really pleased with it and, along with the anti-fatigue mat I bought at the same time, I find it immensely beneficial to stand rather than sit while I’m working from my home office.

New research, however, suggests that standing isn’t actually any better for you than sitting. It’s the being sedentary that’s the killer:

“Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself,” study author Melvyn Hillsdon of the University of Exeter said in a statement. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”

I welcome the correction to the ‘standing good, sitting bad’ over-simplification, but would point out that when you’re standing your more primed for movement than when you’re sitting. I’m much more likely to move around my office and/or pop into the house for something when I’m standing compared to when I’m sitting.