Are sit & standing desks as beneficial as they are trendy?
According to a new study by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health, they are — but not just for workers’ health. The popular desks also improved their productivity – significantly
Sit & stand tables with semi-automated position changes were developed in order to remind users to switch regularly between sitting and standing postures during office work. Tests of the system showed good user compliance: Desk usage patterns were sustained during the entire 2 months following intervention.
Users reported the new system did not interfere with their work, that it impacted their perception of health and well-being positively, and that they would have liked to continue using the system beyond the intervention period.
This could thus be a promising intervention to ensure adequate use of sit–stand desks and sustain their use over time. TECHNICAL ABSTRACT Background: Introducing sit–stand tables has been proposed as an initiative to decrease sedentary behavior among office workers and thus reduce risks of negative cardiometabolic health effects. However, ensuring proper and sustainable use of such tables has remained a challenge for successful implementation. Purpose: Assess a new system developed to promote and sustain the use of sit–stand tables.
Methods: The system was programmed to change the position of the table between “sit” and “stand” positions per a regular preset pattern if the user agreed to the system-generated prompts prior to each change. The user could respond to the system-generated prompts by agreeing, refusing, or postponing the changes by 2 minutes. We obtained user compliance data when this system was programmed to a schedule of 10 minutes of standing after every 50 minutes of sitting.
Compliance was investigated among nine office workers who were offered the semi-automated sit–stand table for 2 months. Results: The system issued 12 to 14 alerts per day throughout the period. Mean acceptance rates ranged from 75.0% to 82.4%, and refusal rate ranged from 11.8% to 10.1% between the first and eighth weeks of intervention (difference not statistically significant).
During the first week after introduction, the table was in a standing position for a mean of 75.2 minutes—increasing slightly to 77.5 minutes in the eighth week. Conclusions: Since the workers were essentially sitting down before the table was introduced, these results suggest that the system was well accepted, and led to an effective reduction of sitting during working hours.
Users also reported that the system contributed positively to their health and well-being, without interrupting their regular work, and that they would like to continue using the sit–stand table even beyond the 2-month period as part of their regular work. Compliance beyond 2 months of use, however, needs to be verified.