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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

WESTERN WELLNESS: the benefits of standing desks

Standing desks have gained popularity around the U.S. over the years, according to the Wall Street Journal.  But the studies on whether they are beneficial to one’s productivity and health don’t have everyone convinced.

As college students, we spend much of our time sitting in class. Could standing desks help keep us productive and engaged in our studies?

The study, “Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk Intervention,” found that standing desks could increase a worker’s productivity by 46 percent, according to the CNN article Bump up your productivity at work by standing up.

The study gave a group of employees standing desks, but another group remained sitting. All employees in the study worked in a call center for a pharmaceutical company and spent most of their time talking on the phone with clients. Eventually, the performance of standing and sitting workers was compared.

The study measured worker productivity by how often they delivered pertinent information to the callers and if the callers continued to be clients of the company after talking to the worker, according to the article.

However, some people are skeptical of the study’s findings.

“I think when you move around it’s definitely more engaging, it keeps you active. It gives you something to do while you’re listening.”

Sophomore Ebony Harris

Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, said the findings of the study were misleading. Hedge pointed out that the group that was given standing desks were more productive than the group sitting even before the study. If you factor that into the equation then the productivity would have only risen by 14 to 15 percent, according to Hedge.

Dr. Joseph Mercola states the benefits of standing desks for students on his website. Mercola is a doctor and author of medical books.

Students may perform poorly in academics and have low self-esteem from sitting and being inactive for extended periods of time, Mercola said. The periods of inactivity also affect brain efficiency, especially while reading and doing math.

“Imaging studies on the brain have demonstrated that movement can enhance and improve the ability of students to learn new concepts,” Mercola’s website states.

In a study done by researchers from Texas A&M, students observed over two years were found to be more engaged with their teachers while standing or being active, according to Mercola’s website.

“I think when you move around it’s definitely more engaging, it keeps you active,” sophomore Ebony Harris said. “It gives you something to do while you’re listening.”

Yet, she said that she would not want to be standing all day and would want the option to sit down eventually.

In the USA News article, 5 Ways Your Standing Desk Is Doing More Harm Than Good, the author named standing all day as the number one mistake made when using standing desks.

Hedge was quoted in this article as well, and said by standing all day you’re putting your body at risk for lower back problems, higher risk of carotid arteries, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and other cardiovascular problems because the heart has to work against gravity to keep the blood flowing up from your toes.

The article states four other mistakes people make while using standing desks: being too still, using them for the wrong tasks, using them for the calorie burn and spending a lot of money on the desks.

While students haven’t seen many standing desks around Western, there are schools around America who have incorporated them into their classrooms. CNN posted a video about a middle school in Alexandria, Virginia who started to use the desks to increase the focus and physical activity of students.

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