Study: office workers can ditch standing desks by taking short walks instead

There seems to be three stages involved in owning a standing desk. First, you feel enthusiastic about your renewed work environment and optimistic about its effects on your health. Soon enough, though, you start to feel distracted by the discomfort of standing all the time. Then, finally, you acknowledge that humans invented chairs for a reason and return to your previous sedentary ways. According to a new study, that's fine: there's a suitable alternative to standing desks.READ: UpDesk UpWrite Standing Desk Review

That alternative, simply enough, is walking. The study didn't look at standing desks specifically, but rather the effects of sitting at a desk all day versus one instance of a 30-minute jog on the treadmill or six 5-minute walks throughout a work shift. Not surprisingly, the volunteers who spent a full six hours sitting at a desk experience the worst overall effects in terms of food cravings, cognitive performance, general mood, and overall energy levels.

Standing desks are typically touted as the solution to this, providing better blood flow to the legs and, hopefully, eliminating some of the health issues associated with sitting for hours. Some studies indicate that office workers are more productive or feel more awake when using a standing desk compared to sitting. Regardless, many people still find standing desks uncomfortable.

A study newly published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity points toward an alternative, finding that getting up and walking for 5 minutes every hour throughout the day had the best reported affects on office workers, improving their moods, decreasing their food cravings, and boosting their overall energy throughout the day.

Office workers similarly reported good things from a single 30-minute activity session in the morning before a work day, though it wasn't as effective as walking for five minutes every hour. The researchers didn't find any evidence that these short hourly walks affected the workers' cognitive performance, however, indicating they're a great way to mitigate potential issues without introducing any productivity problems.