Standing is probably somewhat better than sitting, Hamilton conceded. He's just not sure that it's enough to nudge someone out of the sedentary category. And if it does offer some benefit, he said that much like taking a medication, studies need to determine the correct dosage for maximum health benefits.
Kamron Kunce, a spokesman for UpDesk, stressed that the desk was meant to increase movement, not just standing.
"The height is adjustable, so you are constantly moving it up and down. That's what the consumer should be aiming for," he said.
As for moving desks like the TreadDesk in which the user strolls along at one to two miles per hour while working at a computer or doing paperwork, Hamilton said, again, there's no evidence that it provides a counterbalance to a largely couch potato existence. But he said a moving desk might lead to health improvements, provided a person uses it often enough.
"An individual might succeed with a walking desk, but is it a viable solution at the population level?" There have been a lot of home treadmills out there for a long time," he said, "and many of them are gathering dust in a basement."
Jerry Carr, president of TreadDesk, said he understood Hamilton's concerns over the lack of scientific evidence for standing and moving desks, but even without a scientific paper to quote, he said his clients seemed convinced.
"From the feedback we get from our customers, there is no question there are many benefits, both physical and mental, when you are up and moving instead of sitting still," he said.
Prices for standing desks start at around $500. Moving desks start at around $800 for the treadmill component, plus the cost of the desk.
Despite the cost, Seaver said buying his UpDesk was a great investment. Not only does his back feel better but he said he has more energy and has lost weight without a formal workout program.
"I'm a little surprised. I'm holding steady on my weight without any exercise," he said. "I think standing up has contributed to that."