Stand and Deliver: The Benefits of Standing at Your Desk

Updated: May 23, 2016

Experts are taking a stand to combat lethal inactivity with standing desks that can help combat Sitting Disease. Here’s how to transform your workspace.

It’s been called your body’s biggest enemy by Women’s Health magazine, a lethal activity by The New York Times, and according to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, it’s an insidious health sin that even the healthiest people have trouble correcting. And chances are you’re doing it right now. Sitting Disease, as it’s been dubbed, develops from our sedentary jobs and lifestyles. The 50 or more hours spent sitting each week are now a hot topic for medical experts interested in inactivity physiology, and now some experts say there are links between sitting and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

What’s so bad about sitting? In a nutshell, when you’re seated your muscles’ electrical activity drops, which incites a cascade of hazardous metabolic effects. The body’s calorie-burning mechanisms slow and insulin efficiency drops, increasing the risk of diabetes. Obesity becomes a concern because enzymes that break down lipids and triglycerides also drop, bringing levels of good (HDL) cholesterol down with them. What’s more, even regular exercise doesn’t seem to outweigh the ills of sitting through the workday.

Luckily, experts are taking a stand, literally, to combat this Sitting Disease. In “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity,” the Times mentions a chair-free first grade classroom, and a revolutionary counterpart for adults: the treadmill desk. If the treadmill idea makes you cringe, maybe simply standing at your desk is something to consider.

Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani, had been interested in alternative desk setups for some time before adjusting her own desk to standing height. She says she’ll never sit through a work day again, and that the calorie-burning and better posture benefits of her standing desk are worth her achy feet. Standing desks are a great alternative to treadmill desks because they’re easier to set up and take up less space. In “Why and How I Switched to a Standing Desk,” Trapani answers all the questions you’re asking right now. She includes photos of other people’s standing desks so you can find inspiration for constructing your own healthy work space.

For ideas on how to stand and deliver wherever you and your laptop go, check out “Standing at Work,” at Mark’s Daily Apple. You’ll find solutions that will help you communicate your desire to stand at work to the higher ups in the office, how to stand up and work from home, and other ideal locations for standing on the job while you complete tasks remotely.

Sources: Women’s Health, The New York Times,,

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest