Does your standing desk encourage lazy after hours behaviour?

Caitlin Chang

You may think you’re doing the right thing for your health by standing during the workday, but new research says it could have an adversely affect on how long you sit at home.

The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine, questioned a 'compensation effect' by examining 40 healthy but sedentary office workers. Researchers had volunteers wear two types of activity monitors for two weeks. One monitor tracked changes in posture (revealing how much someone was sitting or standing) and the other tracked steps and physical activity.

All volunteers were provided with sit-and-stand workstations and wore their monitors after one week of using the new desks, after six weeks and after three months. They were required to wear the trackers both at home and at work.

Researchers found that a week into their new desks, workers were standing for almost 6.5 hours per day, and sitting for less than 8.5 hours. However over the three-month period, there was a shift where workers ended up standing 5.5 hours per day, and sitting for over nine hours.

What was interesting is that while workers were spending more time standing in the office, they were also spending more time sitting at home than at the start of the study period.

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“It appears that participants were compensating for sitting less at work by sitting more and moving less after work,” said Stacy Clemes, co-author of the study. She said this experiment shows that if you want to sit less, you need to be thinking about your behaviours throughout the entire day – even after you clock off.

If you are embracing a stand-up workstation during the day, don’t forget to continue the trend during the evening. Schedule in an evening walk, or as Clemes suggests, “Get up and walk around during TV commercials.” Every little step counts.


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