Hardly a day goes by when an attention seeking headline such as ‘Sitting kills’ is not mentioned. However, whilst it may indeed be true that too much sitting is bad for us, we need to look at how we can incorporate this into our daily work lives sensibly.
Standing has cardiovascular and other health benefits, but poor prolonged standing posture can cause musculoskeletal problems, circulatory issues, foot pain and general fatigue. Therefore prolonged standing can be just as risky as prolonged sitting. We also need to account for those with pre-existing conditions that can make standing for too long unadvisable.
So what is the answer? Should we sit or stand?
Well, research does emphasise what we all know anyway, that we need to keep ourselves active to keep ourselves healthy. Our body needs us to move to keep the blood and oxygen flowing and our systems working well. The answer is to strike a balance between sitting and standing.
Public Health, England has issued employer guidance to help reduce prolonged periods of sedentary work. Its’ recommendations were developed from current evidence, including long-term studies of getting workers to stand and/or move more frequently. The guidance states that, “for those occupations which are predominantly desk-based, workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 hours per day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 hours per day (shorter for part-time hours). To achieve this, seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks, or the taking of short active breaks”.
To help the UK workforce improve productivity and maximise health and wellness, companies such as Corrigo have, over recent years, developed more sophisticated chairs, thus reducing dramatically some of the risks of sitting as well as reducing the risk of standing all day.
It is therefore important not to revert back to too much standing but instead get the balance right. Managed properly, less sitting is as important as exercise, with the recommendation that we need to be doing 15% more of light activity daily. Just exercising at lunch time or after work isn’t enough to provide the health benefits of more regular light activity. But importantly sitting with the correct posture is just as important if not more so, as we spend on average 62% of our day sitting.
Going back to how do we fit that into our daily routine, we recommend that any work with ‘static’ postures is interspersed with regular micro-breaks, at least every hour, and taking the chance to stand or walk around at every opportunity. See our 8 TOP TIPS GUIDE for more information.
Listen to your body. Our body tells us when we need to change posture, either when we are sitting or standing – you will often start to feel an ache or a burning sensation – take note and change posture accordingly. The key is to keep a relaxed, upright and balanced posture. More movement also helps to reduce back pain, increase metabolic rate, helps to burn the calories, lower blood glucose levels and raises the endorphin levels to increase mood and productivity.