Is Your Standing Desk Making You Dumber? Maybe So, Says New Study

The medical community has been warning people for years that sitting too much during the day is terrible for our health.

Sedentary behavior associated with prolonged sitting raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and death.

Standing desks are regularly recommended as the go-to alternative to working at a traditional desk all day, but new research is challenging that assumption.

A recent study on ergonomics revealed standing in one place for too long can cause muscle fatigue, lower-limb swelling and a decrease in cognitive function.

But if you’re a standing-desk fancier, don’t worry — prolonged standing does increase creative problem-solving.

All Rise for Affordable Standing Desks

If you’ve shopped around for a standing desk, you know they can be pricy.

According to Wirecutter, high-end models can cost almost $700 (ouch!).

My home office is outfitted with a standing desk I built for about $20 using a collection of materials I picked up from IKEA.

A Tale of Two Sittings

Based on the results of the new study, should you alternate between sitting and standing at your desk or just park your posterior in your chair full time?

I tried it both ways, and here’s what I discovered.

Like the study’s participants, my back does get tired after a while and my feet begin to swell when I stand for long periods.

I found standing on a thick mat and taking frequent breaks to stretch or walk around helps minimize both issues.

I can’t say for sure if prolonged standing clinically decreases my cognitive function, but I do know I become increasingly distracted because of my aching back and swelling feet.

On the other hand, sitting at my desk for hours is no picnic either.

What sitting makes up for in back and lower-limb comfort is lost to aching shoulders while hunched over a keyboard.

For me, the answer is to sit and stand at my desk in approximately equal measures.

Many fitness trackers and other wearables on today’s market have built-in alarms to remind you to stand up or walk around.

There are also dozens of free apps you can install on your phone and computer that will prompt you to move around or change position.

It may take years for definitive answers on whether it’s more beneficial to sit or stand at your desk, so why not DIY your own standing desk for a few bucks and do both?

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She dreams of the day she can work while supported by helium balloons.