Curtin Uni Study Sounds a Warning for Standing at Work

A new study by Curtin University published in the journal Ergonomics sounds a warning bell on standing at work and serves as a reminder that despite the hype around sit stand desks, they shouldn’t be considered a “must have item” for physical wellbeing.

Researchers from Curtin University observed 20 adults performing two hours of standing computer work to investigate changes in discomfort and cognitive function, muscle fatigue, movement, lower limb swelling and mental state. The study found that the two hours of standing resulted in a significant increase in physical discomfort and mixed impact on cognitive function.


But I thought that sitting was the new smoking!?

It’s important to remain clear on the fact that it’s not sitting that is the key risk posed to general health from desk work, it’s the lack of movement and energy use that are the major issues. Whether you’re sitting or standing, if you’re hardly moving from your desk over the work day, you’re getting similar insufficient movement and energy use. The difference in energy expenditure between doing desk work while sitting or standing is tiny (i.e. somewhere between 2% to 4% more energy expenditure when standing). Walking on the other hand, uses 30% to 50% greater energy than sitting or standing, and it is physical activity that has been found to be the key to combatting the negative health impacts of desk based work (Article on Lancet Study on Physical Inactivity and Being Sedentary – here).

Sit stand workstations can be a great piece of equipment….but getting more movement into the daily routine is the key to physical wellbeing for desk based workers, and you don’t need a sit stand workstation to achieve it.


Other Related FWS Articles and Guides

Guide – Get Active at Work

Fit with 6 Minutes of Exercise per Week

Sitting v Standing at Work

5 Avoidable Problems with Sit-Stand Desks



Key Reference for Article

A detailed description of the short-term musculoskeletal and cognitive effects of prolonged standing for office computer work