Are standing desks a good idea?

The popularity of standing desks in the workplace has been rising quickly since about 2015. While standing desks have only entered mainstream use in the last few years, they aren’t a recent invention by any means. Many intellectuals, politicians and writers throughout history have used them, including Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Jefferson.

Many workers have become staunch advocates of this new form of office equipment, which is also becoming more common in homes. Figuring out whether this hype is justified isn’t easy, as there are a number of trade-offs to consider. Orthopedic health and obesity are two key factors that can help you determine if a standing desk is a good idea for you.


The scientific evidence comparing standing desks to sitting desks provides few conclusive answers. In the first place, standing desks haven’t been around long enough for scientists to conduct many studies. Furthermore, the few studies that are available don’t make a particularly strong case in favor of standing desks.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study in 2011 showing that standing desks reduced pain in the neck and upper back, and also improved the user’s mood compared to sitting desks. However, this study didn’t consider possible drawbacks of using a standing desk. In addition, mood is a subjective factor that’s highly prone to a placebo effect.

Orthopedic Health

Research on standing desks suggests that they don’t offer any overall orthopedic benefits compared to sitting desks. Standing is definitely better for your back and neck than sitting. However, standing for prolonged periods has its own orthopedic problems, primarily stress on the knees.

It may be possible to counteract these effects by combining standing desks with other equipment. For example, some studies show that fatigue mats can reduce knee strain from standing by up to 60 percent. These results could give standing desks the edge over sitting desks with respect to orthopedic health if you also use a fatigue mat.


Standing desks are often touted as a cure for obesity, but there is a strong scientific consensus that standing doesn’t burn significantly more calories than sitting down. It’s much more important to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule, whether you sit or stand at work. In particular, you need to engage in 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity at least three times per week.


Current research isn’t sufficient to draw any conclusions about the health benefits of standing desks. The limited research that is available suggests that it isn’t all that helpful as an alternative to sitting desks by itself. A better solution might be to alternate between the two positions while working. Furthermore, standing desks don’t eliminate the need for daily exercise.