Standing is good for your mind as well as your body

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An upstanding British gentleman

OFFICE desks at which you stand are all the rage. Abundant evidence suggests that sitting down for long periods is bad for health, and that working standing up is thus better for you. But is it better for the job? A piece of research just published in Psychological Science by Yaniv Mama of Ariel University, in Israel, and his colleagues, suggests it might be.

Standing takes more effort than sitting does, and might therefore be expected to require more mental attention. The muscles involved have to be monitored and fine-tuned constantly by the brain. Psychological experiments suggest that attention is a finite resource. Standing might thus be expected to reduce the amount of it available to be given elsewhere. A counter-hypothesis, though, is that standing creates mild stress—and experiments have also shown that, when people are under stress, their cognitive performance improves.

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