Regular readers of SmallBusiness.com (and Pinterest.com/smallbusiness), know we are fans of standing desks. Without any research, even. Just seems like a smart thing as our ancestors didn’t sit all day back when they were evolving into us.But we never imagined that standing desks could improve our learning and memory.


According to a new study published recently, a UCLA professor showed that sedentary behavior is associated with the reduced thickness of the medial temporal lobe, which contains the hippocampus, a brain region that is critical to learning and memory. And guess what reduces that thickness? Yep. Standing.

Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and opinion writer for the New York Times, commenting on the research said, “you don’t even have to move much to enhance cognition; just standing will do the trick.” Two groups of subjects were asked to complete a test while either sitting or standing. The test — called Stroop — measures selective attention. Participants are presented with conflicting stimuli, like the word “green” printed in blue ink, and asked to name the color. Subjects thinking on their feet beat those who sat by a 32-millisecond margin.


winston churchill

Winson Churchills’ standing desk.


The cognitive benefits of strenuous physical exercise are well known. But the possibility that the minimal exertion of standing more and sitting less improves brain health could lower the bar for everyone.


According to Friedman, the research suggests it’s a good argument for getting rid of sitting desks in favor of standing desks for most people.

For example, one study assigned a group of 34 high school freshmen to standing desks for 27 weeks. The researchers found significant improvement in executive function and working memory by the end of the study.


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