Is Sitting On The Job A Risk To Your Health?
Standing Vs Sitting At Work
One question that is often debated is if it is better to stand or sit while you are working.
It appears the world has finally started to come to terms with basic evolution. Humans have evolved to stand well, not sit. At least many commuters, savvy office workers and health researchers are recognizing this important insight.
There is mounting evidence that shows that spending too much time sitting while at work, during leisure time or on your commute can increase your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and even early death.
This revelation isn’t exactly new. The ill effects of sitting too much at work was first described during the 1700s by Bernardino Ramazzini. He advised individuals to break their sitting periods us to help stimulate blood flow.
However, ergonomic experts and technological advances have helped to make sitting more attractive and more comfortable.
Australian adults currently average sitting for almost nine hours per day. That’s a longer period of time than spent sleeping by most people.
So, is now the right time to purchase a standing desk? Let’s take a closer look at the available evidence. One way that people know when they have sat too long is when their neck or back gets sore. We can really relate to these effects because they are ones we can actually feel.
However, it is what can’t be seen or felt that you need to worry about. Dr Peter Katzmarzyk, a Canadian researcher, found that individuals who sat a majority of the time had almost a third higher risk for early death compared to individuals who stood most of the time.
Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, a researcher at the University College London, found results that were similar among women in the UK: individuals whose work mainly involved walking or standing had a nearly 32% lower risk for early death compared to individuals who mainly sat at work all day.
On average, standing will burn more calories for most adults. More muscular contraction is involved in standing than sitting as well. According to one study, average thigh muscular activity was 2.5 times higher when standing versus when sitting. That’s important for reducing risk for early death and improving vascular health and blood sugar profiles.
However, it is also very important to note that standing for long periods of time can have adverse health effects also. When we stand, as compared to sitting, our circulatory system and heart has to work hard in order to maintain the blood flood into our brain. The effects of gravity need to be countered. Standing still or in one place for a long time can result in cramping, heaviness or swelling of your legs. In fact, enforced standing is a well-known interrogation technique.
So what should you do, if standing still for long periods of time is also potentially risky? In order to derive the health benefits you get from standing and also lower potential ill effects from doing it too long, the best thing to do is alternate between standing and sitting. So our main message is to sit less, stand up and move more often.
When you alternate between standing and sitting, it will stimulate blood flow and increase the number of muscular contractions, which will result in burning more calories and having healthier blood sugar levels. Recent lab results show that alternating between standing and sitting at 30 minute intervals can help to improve your blood sugar levels following a meal.
Considering a Stand Up Desk
If you are considering buying a stand up desk, but you have some concerns about productivity and concentration, here is some good news for you. Research shows that performance on tasks such as performing a cognitive test, reading and typing are mostly unaffected through using a stand up desk. Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson all used standing desks instead of spending a lot of time sitting. You may want to do the same thing, so that you can alternate between standing and sitting.
If you are not quite ready to get a stand-up desk just yet, here are some tips to help you keep moving:
– On long car rides, take regular breaks.
– When taking public transport, stand up.
– When spending time with friend, try to be more active (go for a walk instead of sitting at a cafe).
– Instead of sitting on the comfortable couch, stand next to the bar.
– Stand up while you are talking on the phone.
– Conduct meetings standing up (they tend to end much faster).