We know the perils of sitting all day; which culminate in bad posture, tight weak muscles, poor core strength and back pain. But did you know there are also physiological responses to being seated as a result of fat deposition and burning less calories compared to standing relating to cardiovascular and kidney disease?
The case seems strong for getting up off our butts and working at a standing desk, however it isn’t all as clear cut as that:
Firstly given the choice to work at an adjustable height workstation studies have shown that after 1 month the majority of people are sitting! Why would this be? Perhaps because fine motor skills are easier to control when sitting because being seated helps stabilise the body? Or because standing in one position without movement isn’t very comfortable?
Actually standing without movement is not what we should be aiming for, it has long been known to cause varicose veins by putting greater load on the cardiovascular system. 20% more energy is required (calories) to stand so it should be a good argument for the case but most research points to movement being necessary whilst standing. Recently treadmill and bike work desks have found favour on mobility websites and the like, however sales are low and the desks are not receiving good feedback. Tests show that computer performance decreases (ie more mistakes are made) using this type of arrangement.
So whats the answer?
Well no need to go out and buy an expensive adjustable height desk, instead keep your seated desk but make sure you get up from it and perform some movement for a couple of minutes every half hour. Oh I’ve known this for ages I hear you say! Yes but the problem is that people get so engrossed in their work it becomes impossible to pull themselves away from the desk.
Sometimes a simple linking trick works for example every phone call needs to be taken/made whilst standing. Or every time a cup of tea is finished you need to stand up to take the cup to the kitchen and wash it. And for others this just isn’t enough, I have found a great website here that has a selection of PC, mac or phone apps to download to remind you in various ways to get up and move about a bit…