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Stand-Up vs. Sitting At Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

This past year, one of Rider Dickerson’s own, Vice President of Retail Solutions, Chris Bostrom decided to try out the whole sitting vs standing at your desk. Before committing to a totally new regime, Chris built his own stand-up desk from boxes we had at Rider just to make sure that he would be able to work at a stand-up desk.  Much to his delight, Chris enjoyed his new stand- up desk and ordered one that wasn’t made out of cardboard boxes.   After over six months, Chris is still enjoying his new desk and even said he felt more productive throughout the day. “I wish I had converted to a stand up desk years earlier. It’s part of the way I work now as much as email or those cool large paperclips. If I start to sit too long, my brain makes me stand up long before my Apple Watch ever prompts me to do the same.”

standupdesk 2

After Chris began using his stand-up desk I decided to do some research on what some of the benefits were of standing vs. sitting at work.  While it is widely known that sitting for long periods of time are unhealthy, I wanted to see just how much healthier standing really was.  Studies have been done on this topic quite a bit in the last year. One study showed that the body is supposed to change position or move from your chair every 20 minutes. This movement helps your body to recharge and avoid common sedentary job effects.  Gretchen Reynolds, a reporter for The New York Times, recently studied the health benefits of standing up every 20 minutes for 2-3 minutes and this is what she found:

New science shows very persuasively that standing up about every 20 minutes, even for only a minute or two, reduces your risks of developing diabetes and heart disease.

By standing up, you cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. You don’t have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don’t gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day.  If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.


Many other studies showed these health benefits as well.  So now I wanted to see if utilizing a stand-up desk was worth it for eight hours a day or if just standing up every 20 minutes was good enough. Some of the side-effects that come with sitting at your desk all day were headaches, posture issues, low productivity (your muscles, including your brain not moving and falling asleep), as well as weight gain. For the health-conscious person, these side effects would be enough to look into the stand-up desk.


Much of the research I found followed suit and confirmed that using a stand-up desk – if the same person were to use a stand- up desk for one day they would burn 20% more calories than what they would on a typical day that they sat at their original desk.  These health benefits are not directly due to just standing-up alone, but because your body is already standing rather than sitting you are more likely to have more movement.  The absolute key to the stand-up desk is movement.  While standing up alone is better than sitting all day, to achieve the maximum health benefits and be the most productive it is important to move your body, change your position, take a walk or do something different than you were in the last 20 minutes.  While I do not know if the stand-up desk is for everyone, the health benefits really give you something to think about while you are sitting at your desk for the next eight hours.  🙂


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