Health & Spirit

Stand Up to Confusion: Fake News About Standing Desks

Marilynn Preston on

Sit happens, which is why I've become wildly enthusiastic about the health benefits of standing desks. (FYI: No company is paying me to say this. Darn.)

The science is in: Sitting too much, crushing your kishkes, stagnating your blood, blocking the flow of energy for six, eight, 10 hours a day, is an insult to your well-being.

It's been linked to much bigger risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and so much more. I'm definitely on my soapbox when it comes to recommending standing desks to my family and friends, strangers at farmers markets and, of course, the seated men and women who come to hear me talk about my new book, which has a whole chapter dedicated to the wonders of standing more and sitting less.

"Sitting really is the new smoking!" I tell everyone, quoting pioneering researcher Dr. James Levine, author of "Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It." "There are now over 10,000 studies showing that too much sitting is a seriously destructive thing to do to your health and well-being," I often say.

So you can imagine my surprise when a very smart doctor I know recently emailed to call my attention to a new story, widely reported and repeated in media outlets everywhere.

"Standing desks may be harmful for your health," read the headline for reporter Melanie Dadourian's story on Fox News.

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"Standing desks could be harmful to your productivity... and your health," Gene Marks reported in The Washington Post.

Standing desks bad for your health? How can this be? Maybe if one fell on your head...

So I read through the new research, and as your most personal trainer, here's what I want to tell you: Phooey! The study that everyone's quoting was conducted by Curtin University in Australia and published in the journal Ergonomics. It involved 20 people. Twenty people! There were twice as many people in my yoga class this morning.

And what were these 20 people in the study told to do? They had to stand at their desks for two hours at a time. Two hours! No wonder the researchers were able to report that standing at a desk for a prolonged period of time will create "discomfort and deteriorating mental reactiveness."


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