Standing vs Sitting – The Heavyweight Bout

Standing vs Sitting – The Heavyweight Bout

The Weigh In


Too much sitting has been branded as the modern health equivalent of smoking, according to the American College of Cardiology! This seems a bit strong if you ask me – but my ‘two cents’ probably isn’t valid when compared to that of an expert.


With people spending hours in a chair in front of their office computers, it has been reported that the rising rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are directly linked! Scary stuff


For health maniacs and hipsters alike, sitting whilst you work is a bit ‘old hat’—but the majority of us will favour familiarity and comfort over proposed health risks. In all fairness, sitting is MUCH comfier.


Now for the main event, which critics are calling ‘The Fight of the Century’ – Standing vs Sitting!




In the red corner – Standing


Standing begins the bout very aggressively and opens with some hard-hitting facts:


Numerous studies have been conducted over the past decade that suggest that excessive sitting increases the risk of disability as we age; as well as being linked to all those nasty aforementioned diseases –  is a chair that important!?


Due to the large amount of research in this area from publications like The Journal of the National Cancer, who recently stated that sitting ‘can be fatal’; technology overlords Google, Facebook, and AOL are offering employees the option of using standing desks alongside traditional ones. However, it’s not just the ‘industry giants’ adopting this approach; more and more offices around the world are installing standing desks too.


The Journal of the National Cancer also deduced that too much sitting can be associated with a 32% increased risk of Endometrial Cancer, a 24% increased risk of colon cancer and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer.  There are many studies similar to this, which all suggest that employers looking to cut costs and invest in their workforce’s health should consider installing standing desks.


Additionally, a study was undertaken by a start-up in Latvia; they installed a standing desk in their office and recorded their workers’ productivity via a mobile app. They concluded that standing up whilst working led to a 10% increase in productivity. However, this study had small samples of volunteers so the results are by no means conclusive.


Commentator’s Summary: This barrage of attacks caused Sitting some real damage and significantly shook its confidence! A lot of blows hit Sitting directly. Standing also hit Sitting with some weak jabs that weren’t backed up with enough scientific evidence – these attacks were easily side-stepped and countered by Sitting.


Unanimous first round win for Standing


In the blue corner – Sitting


Sitting suffered some big blows in the opening round, but had some strong words from the researchers in its corner and started to make an epic comeback:



Occupational Health Specialists are concerned that people may have gotten the wrong message that standing in one place, rather than sitting at their desk, will help them shed extra pounds, improve their hearts, or have even more drastic health issues. They went on to suggest that a lot of the reports are in place to boost the sales of standing desks and a lot of the research wasn’t conducted by medical professionals!


Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell University suggests ‘Standing all day isn’t the answer, that’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.’


Another study undertaken by a German technology company conceded that standing will burn a few more calories, but it also puts more strain on our veins, backs, and joints and makes our hearts work harder to circulate blood upward – especially if we’re overweight!


Commentator’s Summary: Sitting realised it had a lot to prove and started the second round very strongly, by discrediting a lot of Standing’s evidence and catching it off guard in the process. It continued to land some blows, but Standing held its own and batted off a lot of the attacks due to the overwhelming amount of evidence provided in the first round.


Marginal second round win for Sitting


The bell rings to signify the end of the fight…


Standing came out all punches blazing, but Sitting made a drastic fight back at the end and fought off a lot of the evidence with some strong counter-blows.



The referee has ended this bought and the judges have awarded Standing as the new champ by a marginal points decision, due to the superior amount of evidence in its corner.


Whilst there is more evidence in Standing’s corner, what I’ve gathered from my own/other people’s research is that a mixture of sitting, standing, walking around and any other way you can work is probably the answer – mix it up people! Some companies even adopt a ‘power hour’ where their employees stand for an hour whilst making calls. The idea is to improve their voice projection and to keep them alert; there is a lot of evidence that this technique actually works.


I know change is scary and often involves a lot of admin – but at the very least you should be sitting on a posture-friendly chair (take note all you employers, as you will be the ones paying for them)


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