Could your desk be killing you?

The rise (*ahem) of the standing desk

Shocking results from a recent study by Columbia University last week revealed that a desk job could quite literally be the death of us – with those spending 9 to 5 with bums on seats being at double the risk of developing serious and even life threatening health problems.

It is estimated that 36 per cent of British adults spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet, while on average, sedentary behaviour accounts for 77 per cent of waking hours.

The newly published US study suggested that taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes could help mitigate the negative effects of sedentary time.

Good job then that Smoking Gun’s MD Rick Guttridge was on his toes with the deployment of the agency’s first standing desk, which landed at our Manchester HQ last month.


Posture problems were the catalyst that sparked Rick to first consider a standing desk. Suffering with rolled shoulders (typical of a desk dweller) he found sitting at desks and working on computers for long periods of time was exacerbating the issue. 

Rick said: “Taking regular short breaks from your computer and walking around the office helps but I’d been interested in finding some different solutions for a while. I’d considered sitting on a Pilates ball instead of a regular chair too!

“Standing up really does help focus the mind and stops distractions when trying to focus on one task. It’s too early to tell of any health or postural benefits as yet? – but any niggling pains in your legs are early signs you’ve been inactive standing still for too long, which promotes you to move about.?“

But are there any down sides to the standing desk or times when a good old sit down is called for?

?“I’m lucky in that I’ve got a meeting table in my office too? so if I’m getting tired I can sit down, but I only really tend to do this for a conference call or a face-to-face chat. The standing desks are something we would consider taking agency wide – members of the team will be trialling the desk for certain tasks to see how they benefit creatively and motivationally.???

So what do the experts think? We spoke to Matt Brereton-Patel, personal trainer and founder of Manchester’s Optimised Personal Wellness, to get his verdict. 

“Overwhelming evidence suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for your health. Prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type II diabetes. In addition, prolonged sitters have been found to be more susceptible to musculo-skeletal issues, such as muscle, nerve and joint pain, and sitting may also impair cognitive performance.???

With this grim outlook in mind, would Matt consider a standing desk himself?

“Standing desks create a more movement rich, stimulating environment, where you are free to readily and constantly adjust your position and move your body. With studies also suggesting that positive lifestyle habits, such as good nutrition and exercise, are cancelled out by prolonged sitting, a standing desk is a smart choice for office workers and business leaders alike.???

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