Active Working – the Sit Stand debate

Does sitting really kill?

How do you incorporate more movement into your working day?

There has been endless publicity about ‘Sitting Kills’.  This is largely promoted by a number of sit stand desk providers, and the debate continues as to whether sitting is so bad for our health.

However, there can be no argument that more exercise is good for us, and even better if this can be incorporated during our working day.  We spend up to 50 hours or more at work a week and for many, this can mean being tied sitting at your desk for this time, often without lunch breaks.

As ergonomists we recommend taking a standing break from sitting down at least every hour, even if it is for a minute or two.  This gets blood and oxygen flowing again through your body, nourishing your discs, relieving tension build up, getting oxygen to the brain increasing productivity and supplying all your vital organs too.   The more sitting breaks can be taken the better, combined with a walking around.  Good sitting and standing posture, combined with regular walking breaks goes a long way to resolving long-term back issues.

Sit-stand desks

So the trend for standing desks is rising.  But research has shown that it is vital we are trained how to use this correctly, so they don’t just become a fad and then just left in the sitting height position.  We can stand as badly as we sit, so we need to build up to using a desk in the standing position, at the correct height and for staggered periods of time, mixing up sitting, with standing and walking throughout the day.   The department of health recommends starting with 2 hours of standing, spread through the day (not in one go) and building up to 4 hours.  There were health reasons why chairs were brought into the workplace in the first place.

Combining the sitting and standing approach is hugely beneficial to a number of musculoskeletal conditions, but apply with caution for others, such as knee or hip issues and hypermobility syndrome.

There are many cost-effective sit-stand solutions now on the market, costing from only £100 for adapting your existing desk quickly and easily.  Sit-stand desks themselves are also now affordable.

However, you do not need to buy new equipment to build active working into your day.  Just take simple steps to stand and move more:

Active working tips

  1.  Stand when you are on the phone or whenever you don’t need to be typing
  2. Find a tall cabinet or worksurface to use when you want to stand for a bit but still read those documents or write etc
  3. Place your printer away from the desk so you have to walk to retrieve your documents
  4. Drink plenty of water
  5. Take your lunch break away from your desk and even better in the fresh air.  The time spent will be quickly recovered from a higher productivity rate in the afternoon
  6. If your office has breakout areas, use this to your advantage

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