Endless hours of sitting… wouldn’t it better to stand every once in a while?
We type, speak on the phone, calculate, do research and have meetings… all whilst being seated comfortably. We spend approximately 55,000 hours of our professional lives sitting. Little wonder that back problems are a common complaint among office workers.
In the worst case too much sitting will make us ill. The largest number of sick days can be attributed to back problems, with an average of 22 days per year. This could easily be prevented with a few simple actions such as providing mixed sitting/standing workplaces. We need to create work environments that promote physical activity and fitness among the staff. One way to achieve that goal is by providing desks where height can be changed easily – rather than forcing employees to overstretch their spines. Furniture which accommodates not only sedentary, but also standing work keeps the body and mind active.
Exercise promotes concentration. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause and exacerbate many health problems, including muscle tension, back and neck pain. It can lead to reduced performance, fatigue, poor concentration, less motivation and productivity. Inadequate ergonomics may make matters worse.
Experts on occupational health recommend to alternate between activities that require sitting or standing. A desk which accommodates both types of work helps to encourage such health promoting patterns. Shifting between sitting and standing invigorates and promotes well-being at work. Pressure to the back is reduced and the muscles are exercised. Movement activates the body, promotes healthy blood flow and gets the heart pumping. It aids digestion and leads to increased well-being. Varying between sitting and standing positions helps to keep the body and mind active.
It is not enough to raise public awareness, adequate technological innovations have to be developed, too. Mixed sitting/standing workplaces are essential to promote more movement at work. Offices have to be designed in a way to encourage the desired patterns of activity. A standing desk - easy on the eye and easy to use – must have a strategic place in every office.
Employees should be educated about the advantages of mobile working in order to increase the use of mixed sitting/standing desks. Change is induced by introducing more activity in daily routine tasks such as standing when speaking on the phone, having stand-up meetings, changing locations for various tasks, as well as using integrated standing desks. Such simple measures could soon bring relief to aching backs.