Standing desks are no replacement for a workout

Planting your behind in a seat for hours at a time has been squarely linked to an increase in health problems, from shorter lifespans to a slew of diseases, including cancer. Concerned office workers have leapt to standing desks as healthier alternatives. But prolonged sitting may be getting a bum rap, a new study suggests.

After following the sitting, health, and lifestyle habits of 5,132 workers in London, researchers found that extended butt parking didn’t result in an expected higher death risk. While the study seems contrary to other data on the health effects of sitting, it may actually bolster previous findings that being physically active lessens the ill effects of sitting. Thus it suggests that the choice between a sitting and standing desk could be moot for gym goers.

Researchers that tracked types of sitting behavior—sitting while watching TV or at an office desk, for instance­—found that no specific type of sitting behavior nor overall sitting time was linked to an increase in death risk. But, the participants of the study were relatively active Londoners. The participants’ average daily walking was double that of other UK residents, and their levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity was also relatively high.

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