The increase in movement and change of posture facilitated by standing desks can even play a part in reducing depression. A 2012 Australian study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that time spent sitting while using a computer was correlated with more severe symptoms of depression and higher levels of anxiety. The researchers conclude that limiting the amount of time people spend sitting and instead encouraging them to stand while working could play a significant role in improving their mental health.
This finding is backed up by a new study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. The study looked at a range of physical activities and lifestyles as well as the genetic predispositions of 8,000 participants and assessed these against their likelihood of exhibiting signs of depression. The researchers found that both high-intensity forms of activity and lower-intensity forms were linked to decreased odds of depression.
“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable”, the report concludes.
What these studies and others like them demonstrate is that standing desks have a role to play in addressing some of the most important management challenges of our time. Productivity is a longstanding issue and the evidence is clear that standing desks have a role to play in addressing it in the workplace. The same is true for the physical wellbeing of staff.
Now, as we become more aware of the challenge and nature of mental health issues, it’s vital that we recognise the role that the physical workplace can play in addressing them. One key way is to encourage people to become generally more active in the office. Agile workplace models are essential in this regard, but when people have to work at a computer for extended periods, it’s important that they are offered choices about their posture while doing so.