Recently, the Washington Post wrote this article commenting on a comprehensive study from the University of Exeter and University College London (originally published in the International Journal of Epidemiology). During this study, they tracked 16 years worth of results from 5132 participants and looked at how long they sat for throughout the day, as well as measuring physical activity. The results of this study gave the impression that ‘Sitting for long periods doesn’t make death more imminent’.
This message is something that Posture People have been advocating for the past 10 years. Although we are huge fans of standing desks (In fact we have installed them for all of our staff at Posture People HQ), sitting shouldn’t be demonized. After all sitting is a natural resting position for the body, it’s just that we need to make sure we have a good balance between sitting and standing and most importantly fitting a lot more movement into our working day. We would recommend alternating every 20 minutes but really it depends on the individual and what they feel comfortable doing.
Something this article also doesn’t mention is the benefits beyond standing. A height-adjustable desk also allows you to adjust the desk to a perfect height, helping you to get a better posture and reducing the risk of long-term musculoskeletal issues. Logistically this means you can safely desk share if your workplace has adopted agile working, and save money in the long-term.
What is vital, is that we put measures into place to combat sedentary lifestyles. The world health organisation recently estimated that “95 percent of the world’s adult population is inactive, failing to meet minimum recommendations for health of 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity five times a week”. With the average working week in excess of 40 hours a week, the best place to start is your office.
Getting a standing desk alone won’t fix all your problems, but it will help you alternate your postures, stretch and fit more movement into your day. Not forgetting, many ergonomic office chairs are designed to encourage you to alternate your posture whilst offering additional support.
There is no one solution for office wellbeing. As employers what is important, is to find the right set up for each individual and promoting better lifestyle choices to make sure they are happy, healthy and productive at work.