Why office workers should stand for four hours a day

30 July 2015. Feature.

Sitting is the new smoking. Have you come across this claim of late?

Research shows that the risk of heart disease is greatly increased by each hour spent sitting down, and inactivity at this level is just as bad for you as smoking. A poll of 2,000 workers by the British Heart Foundation has revealed that approximately 45% of women and 37% of men spend 30 minutes or less on their feet, putting them at a higher risk of diabetes and possibly even premature death.

According the experts, simply sitting at your desk for long hours is “one of the biggest challenges”, and even those uber healthy workers who cycle to work and run to the gym in their lunch break are at just as much risk. In light of existing evidence in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, desk-bound workers should be spending at least two hours of the working day on their feet, ideally a total of four hours.

So for good reason, standing up in the office is increasingly becoming a thing. With on-your feet meetings held up as a way to cut down on pointlessly long discussions (hurrah), or as implemented in an office design by Peldon Rose for M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, sit-stand desks in the workplace are an effective means to boost creativity, making meetings more energetic and day-to-day tasks more efficient.

Another recent survey found that many of us spend up to as much as 12 hours a day sitting on our derrières looking at computers or watching TV. If you throw in the seven hours we spend sleeping that adds up to a remarkable 19 hours a day being sedentary.

Our northern neighbours are, as with many things, well ahead of us on this one. Both Swedish and Danish office workers now have a right to flexible sit-stand desks. And a whopping 90% of Scandinavians now have access to one, according to the Furniture Industry Research Association, compared to a mere 1% of Brits.

If you’re not yet at the stage of replacing your Herman Millers for sit-stand chairs, then Dr John Buckley, a professor at the University of Chester offers his advise on some simple tips to avoid ‘excess sitting’:

“Take a walk at lunch and eat away from your desk. Go and meet people at their desk rather than sending an email. Make sure bins aren’t by desks, and are instead in a central space. If you find multiple ways of standing for longer, that can accumulate.”

In short, It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you’re on your feet for longer!

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