Is it time to quit sitting? Our thoughts on the Active Working Summit 2015

We predict that 2015 is going to be a massive year for standing desks.  On average 90% of office workers in Scandinavia already have sit/stand desks compared to only 1% of UK users. We have all seen the images of major players in the fashion world working on a  treadmill desk, and it’s easy to assume that the health benefits stem from  constant activity, but many are unaware of how beneficial it is to simply alternate between sitting and standing at work. Posture People’s own ergonomics expert Jo Blood went to the Active Working Summit 2015 to learn a little more about the benefits of height adjustable standing desks.

And here are her thoughts:

“ We repeatedly see in our assessments that office workers are becoming more sedentary. When you think about the latest in technology and gadgetry, almost all labour saving devices have contributed to the average office worker to sit for in excess of 12 hours a day if you combine sitting at work and getting into the habit of sitting at home. Almost every modern invention has reduced the amount of movement we have each day.

  • The days of standing to wash the dishes are long gone with the modern dishwasher
  • Email has replaced face to face conversations
  • TVs now have remote controls.
  • Ipods (we no longer need to get up to change the record)
  • And the list goes on….

Evidence suggest that sitting for 4 hours or more a day results in  enzymes responsible for burning harmful blood fats shutting down, Reduced calorie burn and disrupted blood sugar levels and blood pressure and insulin levels rise. Our bodies are designed to stand, and sitting is a completely unnatural resting position for us, which is why people with poor workstations often suffer with a variety of preventable health issues, from severe back pain and spinal issues to muscle degeneration.

Blood pressure related to sittingIn 1953 a study published in the Lancet observed that bus conductor’s risk of heart attack was half than that of the bus drivers. The study observed the prominent difference between the lifestyles was that one of them spent their shift standing and the other seated.  Unfortunately the conclusions drawn from this, where that physical activity was key to reducing health risks, and the next several decades focused on this area of research.  Whilst it true that physical activity such as moderate to vigerous exercise is important, other more recent studies show that the act of standing maybe well go a long way to combatting our sedentary lifestyle.

This isn’t to say that standing all day is for everyone, In fact we wouldn’t recommend it! The happy medium would be to have a balance.  We could have jobs that had more movement, within them.  Or we can bring movement to the jobs that we already have by introducing things such as height adjustable sit/stand desks.  This means you can alter your position throughout the day and have rest intervals when you feel like you need to have a rest (not to mention if you eat at your desk without a canteen,  It’s nice to be able to sit).

One of the over-riding conclusions that came from the Summit, was that more research needs to be done.   The studies done so far don’t conclusively prove that a sedentary lifestyle can be reversed by standing during the working day, but the early indications are that it is very likely, and it definitely highlights the fact that more research in the area needs to be performed quickly to help safeguard our health in the future.

Standing at work isn’t simply about burning a few extra calories, but a serious investment in wellbeing and productivity.  We’ve seen a recent increase in demand for height adjustable standing desks. Companies have now realised that investing in employee wellbeing and workspaces can have hugely positive effects on their staff, and ultimately, their profits.  For any company there are health and safety regulations for display screen equipment users that need to be met. However, there are no guidelines currently in place to prevent you from sitting for your entire working day, and isn’t it about time that some were bought in”



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