June 15, 2015—Sitting all day at work is something professionals shouldn’t stand for—but it’s a problem that many face in the modern workplace. Sitting for long periods may increase your risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and dying early.
The average New York City resident spends about 7 hours parked in a chair during an average day, according to a recent study in Preventing Chronic Disease. And many of those seated hours are likely to take place when people are nestled in their desks at work.
An international group of experts are aiming to change that trend, noting that sitting at work can cause a variety of health problems. According to their new set of recommendations published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the average person should spend at least 2 hours standing up at work—but more is ideal.
What’s wrong with chairs?
Standing is a light-intensity activity—and sitting is a sedentary one. So people on their feet burn more calories than people parked in chairs, and that could translate into weight loss. Also, people who avoid lengthy stints of sitting may have better blood sugar levels and less back pain, the experts reported.
However, people should still be cautious about standing too much in the same position, and the recommendations called for a balanced combination of sitting and standing while at the office.
About the recommendations
For those who sit too much, the experts suggested a slow approach to standing that involves:
- Alternating seated work with standing work. A sit-stand adjustable desk is ideal for this purpose.
- Watching for discomfort while standing. If it appears, posture adjustments might help. If they don’t, you should sit back down until the episode passes.
- Aiming for 2 hours per day of standing work. That time can be slowly upped to 4 hours per day as you get used to standing.
- Communicating with a doctor. Doctors can help if discomfort caused by standing doesn’t fade with time and stretching.
These recommendations are far from official, the experts said, but they can help workers to plan out their days and move away from a sedentary lifestyle.
The experts also hoped that the recommendations help convince employers to improve office layouts and desk arrangements in order to promote employee health.
|The take-home message|
|Standing may help alleviate the health problems associated with sitting at work, but it’s also important to stay healthyand active during the work week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, along with 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises. These are requirements that are added to, not replaced by, your need to stand at work.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a few tips that could help you pack more exercise into your busy schedule:
There are also ways to keep your body comfortable when you’re on the job, like these seated exercises you can do at your desk: