The human body has always been designed for movement! But we’re moving less and less, especially those of us with office jobs. A growing number of studies prove that living a sedentary lifestyle and staying seated for extended periods in an office environment can have negative impacts on our health. I was already convinced, but I recently attended a conference about sit-stand work from Adam Labelle, associated ergonomist at Humanscale, and he convinced me even more! I personally care a lot more about my health than before and I started looking for opportunities to stand up at work.
I’ll try to resume Adam’s presentation so you can really understand the benefits of sit-stand combination at work and maybe convince your boss or clients too!
How a seated position impacts your body
Remaining seated for long periods slows down your circulation, which means there’s less oxygen getting to your muscles. With less oxygen, you get tired sooner, you experience cramps and your body goes into “hibernation” mode. Studies have shown that spending many hours in a seated position day after day increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and circulatory problems. That’s actually not very surprising.
How a seated position impacts your mind
In addition to physical issues, we’re hearing more and more about psychological issues related to remaining seated for too long. Your morale and mental health can be affected by extended periods in a seated position, resulting in poor concentration, lack of attention, major fatigue and even depression.
“But I go to the gym!”
Working out for an hour or two several times a week or even every day is obviously good for your health. You might think a regular workout would compensate for our long hours sitting at a desk. Unfortunately that’s not true!
Of course, there are substantial benefits to be gained from regular fitness training. However, studies indicate it’s not enough because our bodies aren’t made to be active for an hour a day and then inactive for the remaining 23! To avoid going into hibernation mode, our bodies need a minimum amount of physical activity every hour of the day.
What’s the solution?
The best combination is to alternate seated and standing positions many times throughout the day. To achieve a minimum level of physical activity so our bodies don’t enter a complete resting phase, we need to stand for at least fifteen minutes every hour and spend a total of at least two hours standing during an eight-hour work day.
Be careful though! Working only on a standing position is armful too! The standing position also brings problems: heavy legs, back pressure, foot pain, etc. The real solution is to alternate regularly, for short periods, from sitting to standing.
How can I do that?
Height adjustable, floating or standing tables and desks are growing in popularity in a number of offices because they allow people to continue working by alternating seated and standing positions. Plus, changing positions could even boost your productivity if you’re experiencing a drop in energy!
If you don’t currently have the budget for height adjustable office furniture, make sure you get up off your chair more often. Find any excuse to walk around the office (go to the bathroom, go talk to a colleague in person instead of calling or writing an email, stand-up when you talk on the phone, etc.). And take advantage of your breaks to go for a walk!
What’s important to remember is you need to regularly vary your position and move as much as possible on a daily basis. Stand up and work on your health!