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Health benefits of sit-stand desks unproven, researchers claim

ergo Bryan

London – Despite their popularity, sit-stand desks have unproven health benefits, according to a new study from Cochrane.

Researchers reviewed 20 studies – featuring more than 2,000 participants from the United States and Europe – that examined the use of sit-stand desks, which allow users to either work sitting down or standing up. They found low-quality evidence that sit-stand desks reduce sitting time when compared with conventional desks. Other interventions, such as walking breaks, also did not decrease the length of time spent sitting very much.

Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can increase a person’s chance of developing heart disease and obesity. This has prompted health advocates to recommend various workplace interventions to reduce the time employees spend sitting down, including sit-stand desks.

“At the moment, there is uncertainty over how big an impact sit-stand desks can make on reducing the time spent sitting at work in the short term,” said lead study author Nipun Shrestha, a researcher from the Health Research and Social Development Forum in Nepal. “People who are considering investing in sit-stand desks and the other interventions covered in this review should be aware of the limitations of the current evidence base in demonstrating health benefits.”

Shrestha recommended additional research into ways to reduce sitting time for both the short and long term, including larger studies and longer follow-ups.

The independent, nonprofit medical research group published the team’s findings in The Cochrane Library on March 17.

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