DR MIKE LOOSEMOORE (LEAD CONSULTANT IN EXERCISE MEDICINE AT THE INSTITUTE OF SPORT, EXERCISE AND HEALTH) CLAIMS THAT STANDING FOR THREE HOURS A DAY IS AS GOOD FOR YOU AS RUNNING TEN MARATHONS PER YEAR. DOESN’T SOUND TOO ARDUOUS, RIGHT? BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR JOB OR DAILY ROUTINE REQUIRES YOU TO BE AT A DESK FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR DAY?
We’ve long known that standing for long periods of time has damaging effects on your health resulting in conditions such as varicose veins, lower back pain and disorders and an increased risk of stroke. However, it is only in more recent years that the effects of sitting for prolonged periods have been found to be just as, if not more, damaging than standing.
Even going to the gym and working out intensely each day after work (no, thanks) doesn’t offset the damage that sitting during the day has done to your body. Plus, sitting burns a measly, one calorie per minute, so those Malteasers that “aren’t so bad for you” will take it out of you trying to burn them off at the gym.
But the weight isn’t all there is to worry about. When you sit for prolonged periods of the day (this is including driving to and from work, watching television, eating dinner etc.), your good cholesterol is lowered, your metabolism slows, insulin becomes less effective and the likelihood of heart disease and type 2 Diabetes increase.
So what are you supposed to do if both sitting and standing becomes damaging after extended periods?
Cue the sit/stand desk.
Many companies are now aware of the effect of good, and indeed, bad health on the morale and productivity of staff, and staff themselves are aware of the effects that certain working situations can have on their body and are beginning to demand the aids that they need to counteract these effects.
Sit/stand desks come in a variety of forms – either manual, if you really want to stretch your office workout, or electric for ease of use. The introduction of these desks means that users have the option of how to work based on their own preferences and comfort, medical history and informed choice as to the effects of each position.
It is recommended that for every hour a person spends sitting, they should spend a minimum of ten minutes standing. If standing for longer, most find it comfortable to raise one leg and rest their foot on a stool or something similar to relieve pressure from their feet and legs alternately.
However, just as an ergonomically designed chair will never see it’s user reap its full benefits if they have not received correct training in how and when to adjust the chair, height adjustable desks are of no use unless the set-up comes with more than just an assemble and plug-in job. Those installing the desks, such as us at Wave Office, should understand the benefits of sit/stand desks and how they should be used by individuals depending on their circumstance.
There are also many applications and software that can help people to get into the habit of standing and sitting at appropriate times based on the type of work that they are carrying out and the time they have spent in a particular position. Check these out if you’re unsure where to start:
Even without this software, it’s easy to set a simple alarm on your phone or PC that can remind you when your allocated sitting or standing time is up and it’s time to change.
What are your views? Do you think height adjustable or sit/stand desks will become common place in office based professions, or even beyond?