Benefits of Adjustable Desks Still Unclear
Written by Editor   
Friday, July 10, 2015 05:42 PM

Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death, even among people who exercise regularly. Yet employees in administrative and professional/managerial occupations often sit for more than three-quarters of their total time at work.  Height-adjustable desks are growing in popularity in office settings as an answer for this problem, but there's little hard evidence that they improve the health of office workers, according to a new review of existing research.  Indeed, there has been very little research testing whether people using the desks spend less time sitting, or if they do, whether that improves their mental or physical health, researchers say.

"There was some evidence that people sit less and stand more" if they have height-adjustable workstations, but the study found little "good evidence" that the reductions in sitting time resulted in health benefits, such as reduced weight and reduced cardiovascular risk.

This study team looked at some 9,000 studies and identified just five that compared office workers who used height-adjustable desks to those who didn’t.  All five studies reported that using height-adjustable workstations reduced workplace sitting time. But all were small, involving at most 44 people.  As a result, study authors were unable to reach any conclusions about the effects of the desks.

The study authors did speculate that there may be other benefits of using the adjustable workstations. For example, they allow workers to change posture regularly, and that may help avoid musculoskeletal problems from prolonged sitting.  "However, again there is currently little 'good evidence' that using these devices benefits musculoskeletal health in both the short and long term."