Should I get a stand-up desk? Many workers who sit in front of a computer screen all day wonder if they should get a standing desk.

Adults in the United States aged 65 and older struggle to meet physical activity guidelines, which generally call for 150 minutes of activity per week. According to research, many Americans spend up to 11 hours a day sitting. Women are specifically at an increased risk of having or developing health concerns associated with inactivity.

More than 5 million people around the world die from causes associated with a lack of physical activity.

Two research teams at UC San Diego School of Medicine sought to answer the question “Should I get a stand-up desk?” They wondered whether just standing up would promote better health. The study found that even light physical activity, including just standing, can benefit health, and the other that Americans are still sitting too much.


Get a Stand-Up Desk, Your Life May Depend On It

It is well-documented that exercise and other moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of many age-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, numerous cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

However, in the study published October 12, 2020 in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, researchers found that just standing still was associated with lower risk for mortality.

The study was led by Andrea LaCroix, PhD, chief of epidemiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

• The research team observed activity levels of nearly 6,000 American women, ages 63 to 97, in partnership with the Women’s Health Initiative.

• Participants wore a research-grade accelerometer for seven days to get accurate measures of how much time they spent sitting, standing still or moving.

Participants who spent the most time standing had a 37 percent lower risk of death when compared to the group who didn’t stand up as often.

• While the highest group was standing still almost 90 minutes per day, a lower risk of death was observed by standing still for as little as 30 minutes per day.

• The positive effects of standing were even stronger when participants were standing and moving around at the same time.

Stand-Up Desk Study Conclusions

Here are some observations by experts:

Author Purva Jain, a doctoral candidate and research fellow:

• Avoiding prolonged sedentary time and engaging in regular physical activity are key strategies for older Americans to improve their prospects for healthy aging.

• During our research, we found that simply spending more time on your feet could have important health benefits, such as a decreased risk of mortality.

John Bellettiere, PhD, professor of epidemiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, concluded:

• Standing is a feasible approach to interrupt long periods of time sitting that takes place throughout the day.

• We find this most beneficial for older adults who may not be able to partake in moderate-to-vigorous activities any more, but can still follow a healthy aging lifestyle safely just by replacing sitting with standing up more.


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