fit middle age woman standing with good posture at a standing desk in a blue office

Are Standing Desks Better Than Sitting?

Short answer: probably, but actually not by much! But there’s a third – and much better – option.

Ever since standing desks became widely available several years ago, people have been asking: are they really worth it?

Spending hours every day sitting is definitely not great for your health, and society is moving more and more towards jobs that keep us at a desk and computer the majority of our working hours. You’re probably aware that prolonged sitting can leave you feeling stiff and sore. Muscle fatigue can actually build up from holding a single position for an extended time, and seated positions allow the abdominal muscles in particular to slacken and weaken. This leads to increased pressure on the vertebral discs of the lower back, and can increase the risk of significant lower back injury over time, especially coupled with changes in muscle tension that occur in this position.

If sitting for so long is so bad for you, should you rush out and get yourself a standing desk? Actually, no. Though it might be a better option than sitting for hours per day, going cold turkey and standing for the same period has its own set of problems. A standing desk is by no means a guaranteed cure for a tight neck and shoulders stemming from computer use, as it’s just as easy to slouch with these desks – sometimes easier, since you may end up leaning on it to a greater extent. Standing for hours on end can create muscle fatigue in the lower body, as your legs may not be used to supporting your body weight for long periods. As a result, most people tend to shift on their feet and can end up in awkward standing positions, putting more stress on joints of the lower body, hips, and lower back. Prolonged standing is also more challenging to the circulatory system than sitting is, so it may not be a healthy option for people with circulatory conditions, and it can contribute to varicose veins.

So if sitting for hours is bad and standing for hours not much better, are you doomed to discomfort for the rest of your working days? Not necessarily. Your best bet is to invest in a sit-stand combination desk. These desks allow you to vary the height of your desk to allow for both optimal sitting and standing heights, so you can choose your working posture as you see fit. Studies have shown that the body doesn’t handle being in any posture for long periods of time, and responds well to this mix of movement as shown by decreased aches and pains (and subsequent days off work and/or medical treatment) and increased feelings of comfort and productivity while desk-bound. Physically, frequently changing positions also helps maintain normal nerve function and maintains good blood supply for the muscles.

If you don’t have access to a variable height desk, there are a few options. Desktop additions are available that allow you to raise or lower the height of your monitor, keyboard, and mouse, effectively turning any desk into a sit-stand desk. And no matter what kind of desk you have, frequently getting up for a walk around the office is one of the nicest things you can do for your body. Put a reminder in your phone or email to get up for a walk or a stretch and get yourself moving!


Have your own question about your health and fitness? Submit it to to get a clear answer on how you can move easily and feel great.



Image By Kennyrhoads (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

6 responses to “Are Standing Desks Better Than Sitting?”

  1. I too am not entirely convinced that sitting is all that bad for the otherwise reasonably active, but I overcame my hesitations (especially about the cost) and bought a sit/stand desk a month ago and have to say that my back definitely likes it.

    1. That’s awesome that you found something that you like! I actually don’t have a problem with sitting, in and of itself. It’s the amount of time we spend doing it that seems to be problematic – which is true for any posture. They all have their pros and cons! Thanks for chiming in, always great to get someone else’s take on things!

  2. How about sitting/bouncing on a yoga ball? I’ve heard that’s actually better than sitting and standing.

    1. Great question, I hadn’t thought to address that at all! Any sitting posture is going to tighten and shorten hip flexors, regardless of what you’re sitting on, so I don’t think it’s any improvement from that perspective. I personally think the yoga ball is a little overrated as a seat in general – most people don’t have the core strength to maintain good posture for hours on end (in any position, really). In practice, I’ve seen as many people slouch on balls as in normal chairs, thanks to muscle fatigue through the core muscles and from being distracted by whatever you’re working on. All that said, it’s not a terrible option. Change of postures is what our bodies do best with, and it will provide a changed “posture” for your body to respond to. So it can be an ok option for short spells during the day, but I wouldn’t use it as my only option.

      1. Thanks for the insight! I honestly thought about getting one because they are kinda fun and keeps me engaged when I have to sit down for long periods of time to write.

        1. Those are great reasons to get one 😁

What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: