A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace

Prev Med. 2015 Jan:70:50-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.011. Epub 2014 Nov 28.


Objectives: Standing and treadmill desks are intended to reduce the amount of time spent sitting in today's otherwise sedentary office. Proponents of these desks suggest that health benefits may be acquired as standing desk use discourages long periods of sitting, which has been identified as an independent health risk factor. Our objectives were thus to analyze the evidence for standing and treadmill desk use in relation to physiological (chronic disease prevention and management) and psychological (worker productivity, well-being) outcomes.

Methods: A computer-assisted systematic search of Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, CENTRAL, and EMBASE databases was employed to identify all relevant articles related to standing and treadmill desk use.

Results: Treadmill desks led to the greatest improvement in physiological outcomes including postprandial glucose, HDL cholesterol, and anthropometrics, while standing desk use was associated with few physiological changes. Standing and treadmill desks both showed mixed results for improving psychological well-being with little impact on work performance.

Discussion: Standing and treadmill desks show some utility for breaking up sitting time and potentially improving select components of health. At present; however, there exist substantial evidence gaps to comprehensively evaluate the utility of each type of desk to enhance health benefits by reducing sedentary time.

Keywords: Chronic illness; Exercise; Productivity; Sedentary lifestyle; Work.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Weight Loss
  • Workplace*