Health experts warn that if you sit at a desk all day, you have a greater chance of dying early, even if you exercise regularly. As an editor who not only sat in front of a computer for many hours a day but also was concerned about the grim desk-related statistics, a few months ago I jerrybuilt a standing desk. A new test at our Yonkers, New York, headquarters has allowed me—literally—to take the next step in avoiding sitting while I work.
Consumer Reports regularly tests elliptical exercisers, treadmills, and other fitness gear. And now a handful of staff members, myself included, are helping to review treadmills desks, which allow you to simultaneously walk and work (true multitaskers can add in whistling).
Recent research might explain the increasing popularity of standup and treadmill desks. In a study published in the March 26, 2012 Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers tracked more than 222,000 people 45 and older for four years. Those who sat for a total of eight to 11 hours a day, on average, were 15 percent more likely to die during that time than those who sat four hours or less. People who sat 11 hours or more were 40 percent more likely to die. Those chilling numbers held true even for people who exercised regularly, were not overweight, and were otherwise healthy. Overall, the researchers estimated that about 7 percent of the deaths in the study could be attributed to sitting.
Out with the chair, in with the standing desk, and on to the treadmill desk. I'm still getting used to the idea of standing at my desk and working—and dealing with occasional comments and questions from sitting colleagues. I'm also enjoying trying out these treadmill desks—even if they illicit stares and snickers from peanut gallery members who pass by.
If you use a treadmill desk, tell us about your experiences in our forum discussion Treadmill desks: Are they for you? (If you don't subscribe to ConsumerReports.org, you'll need to go through a quick registration process.)
Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults [Archives of Internal Medicine]
Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics [NY Times]
Why Every Office Should Switch to Walking Desks [Techcrunch]