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Sitting is the new smoking: Some workers switching to standing desks

PHOENIX — A lot of people work at a job that has them sitting at a desk or cubicle eight hours a day — but some people are changing that.

By getting desks that allow them to stand and do their job, they’re improving their health and the way they feel.

Dawn Paugh, national sales manager for KTAR, is one of them. She’s at her desk a lot.

“Most everything I do is on the phone or email, so it’s pretty much a desk-bound position,” said Paugh.

She developed some back problems because of traveling last year and had back surgery in April. She now uses a desk where she can stand and still do her work.

“This desk is something that our IT department ‘jimmied’ for me,” Paugh said. “But if you go online, you can find all sorts of standing/sitting desk set-ups.”

She said that something a friend once said to her was another reason she decided to try a standing desk.

“I have a friend that says that ‘Sitting is the new smoking.'”

Paradise Valley cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson said that sentiment is exactly right.

“Sitting increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol…the list goes on and on,” Wolfson said. “In fact, those people who sit longer than six hours a day have a 20 percent higher death rate than those who sit three hours or less.”

Wolfson has also decided to stand more to improve his health and to set an example for others. He is having a $2,000 standing desk installed in his office. It will allow him to stand while he consults patients and does other duties at his job.

He’s also trying to stand more during other situations.

“Whenever I’m on the phone, I’m standing,” Wolfson said. “Often times my wife will get frustrated with me, because instead of sitting for dinner, I like to stand at dinner.”

Both Paugh and Wolfson said that standing while they work gives them more energy, but Paugh has a word of caution.

“It is hard on the legs,” she said. “At the end of the day, it starts to wear on me. I think that the perfect combination is some sort of combo of sitting and standing.”

Wolfson said that if you do have to sit for long periods while at work, make sure that you get up and walk around at least once an hour.

Several examples of standing desks can be found at