Mar 20 2019

Take a stand: how sit/stand workstations can be good for your health

There is plenty of information outlining the risks of smoking or not wearing sunscreen. However, recent international research has focused on sedentary behaviour and the risks of sitting or lying down for prolonged periods of time. In fact, studies warn that sedentary lifestyles are likely to cause as many deaths as smoking.

Sedentary behaviour: what’s the risk factor?
Let’s backtrack a little. What is sedentary behaviour and how could it be harmful? Well, ‘sedentary behaviour’ is classified as time spent sitting or lying down, not including sleeping. When you factor in work, TV time, the daily commute, and meals, it’s surprisingly easy to rack up 15 hours of sitting time each day. This may sound harmless, but emerging evidence links prolonged sitting with chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.

How much sitting is too much?
So if prolonged sitting can be bad for your health, how much is too much? While there are currently no guidelines from the Australian Department of Health as to safe levels of sitting, Safe Work Australia suggests that more than seven hours of overall sedentary behaviour per day is likely to be detrimental. They point out that prolonged sitting is associated with musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and poor mental health.

Take a stand and reap the health benefits
The good news is there are lots of things that can be done in the workplace alone to reduce total sitting time and improve overall health. For starters, the Heart Foundation recommends limiting sitting time and avoiding sitting for prolonged periods. One of the best ways to do this is by installing sit/stand desks: in a recent Heart Foundation study, this reduced sitting time by almost 20% during work hours. Sit/stand workstations encourage movement and mobility, and those who sit less and stand more:

  • Are at a lower risk of early death, especially from heart disease
    Experience less stress and fatigue
    Report less back pain
    Have more energy and focus, especially during that mid-afternoon lull
    Feel more productive while standing
    Are less likely to experience weight gain or obesity. Not only does standing burn nearly twice the kilojoules of sitting, but just one extra hour of standing burns 600kJ – that’s the equivalent of a cinnamon donut!
    Benefit from fewer and shorter periods of prolonged sitting. This simple change alone can lead to better heart health.

While the research into sedentary behaviour is still emerging, the results are compelling. Sit less, stand more: it’s good for your health.