Did you know that the majority of office workers spend a whopping 76% of their time sitting. And that this sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to obesity and chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and death. Another alarming statistic from from the University of Sydney found that people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 per cent more likely to die within three years than those who sit for less than four hours.
And According to the National Heart Foundation Australia, long periods of sitting can increase your risk of heart disease by 50 per cent, even if you exercise regularly. Other research has revealed that even short periods of standing on a regular basis can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Interestingly, a new distinction suggests that too much sitting increases these risk factors, as opposed to too little exercise.
Take a Stand and Say Yes to Sit Stand Desks
Numerous studies suggest our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is not good for our health. A pilot study conducted by the national governing body Comcare investigated the effectiveness of sit-to-stand workstations, and if standing more often had a significant impact on individual health. The results were compelling, but not surprising.
Participants who were given a sit/stand desk and encouraged to ‘sit less’ revealed that:
- They reduced sitting time by 25 per cent. This is equivalent to two hours of a standard eight hour workday, compared with the control group.
- Blood glucose levels were reduced in the followup test.
- Self-reported productivity increased significantly in this group.
Results suggest we should relearn the way we go about our corporate business. We know that poor workstation ergonomics is bad and can cause all sorts of musculo-skeletal disorders including lower back, neck and shoulder stiffness and pain, upper and lower arm pain, as well as tendonitis, carpal tunnel, headaches and frozen shoulder. We have reconfigured workstations to be more supportive of our bodies – we are offering ergonomic assessments soon soon so watch this space.
However we are now realising our sedentary habits are also a major cause for concern.
Strategies to Sit Less and Move More.
What can we do in our daily working lives to improve our sedentary working lifestyle?
- Use imail instead of email – walk over and talk to your colleague instead of sending an internal email
- Use a height adjustable desk so you can alternate tasks whilst sitting or standing. Or stand in the morning, sit in the afternoon.
- Encourage walking or standing meetings. Go outside and walk around the the park for your meeting, or walk around the boardroom whilst brainstorming to get those creative juices flowing.
- Drink more water so you have to go to the water cooler (and bathroom) more often. Use a bathroom that is further away.
- Use separately located bins and/or printers, and dispose of waste and/or collect printing more frequently.
- Step outside for fresh air.
- Use the stairs instead of the lift. Use an active way of commuting to work (walk or ride your bike, stand on the train, stand up to wait for your train/ bus).
- Park your car further away from work or park in short-term parking so you have to walk back to move your car.
- Have lunch away from your desk.
- Walk laps of the floor at regular intervals to break up the day.
Whilst standing desks are only recommended for personnel with bad backs, it’s great to mix up the day with movement. Health and safety in the workplace is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. So to move it or lose it, and take a stand to sit-stand today.
Benefits of Movement – Be Upstanding. Australia Government Comcare Report
Promoting Health By Tacking Sitting as a Risk Factor for Chronic Disease. Australia Government Comcare Report
The Business Case for reducing Sedentary Work Practices. Australia Government Comcare Report
Officewise. A Guide to Health and Safety in the workplace. Worksafe Victoria Report
Sedentary Work. Australia Government Comcare Report