You’re likely sitting down as you read this, but perhaps you should stand instead.
On average, adult Americans spend more than 7.5 hours per day sedentary (not counting sleep time), and employed adults in primarily office jobs spend up to 75 percent of their time at work sitting.
Recent studies also suggest that even modest decreases in sedentary time can help reduce your risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and premature mortality.
A recent study presented at the 2014 Obesity Week meeting in Boston from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota evaluated the effects of sit-stand workstations, with and without a worksite physical activity intervention, on risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Nearly 250 employees from Twin Cities office buildings, who spent most of their workday sitting, were randomly assigned to one of four groups for the six-month study.
The four groups were classified as General (usual behavior at work), Move (some intervention with a goal of at least 30 minutes of activity throughout the workday), Stand (standing at least 50 percent of the day using a sit-stand workstation), and Stand & Move (combined Stand and Move interventions).
The study found significant beneficial effects on blood sugar and triglycerides, and trends towards improvements in blood pressure for those in the intervention groups compared to control. More specifically, the Stand & Move group had the lowest six-month blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
Now before you rush out and contact your company’s facilities staff to make the switch to a sit-stand workstation, Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health and co-author of the study, has some cautionary advice.
“If you are thinking of switching from a traditional sitting desk to a sit-stand workstation, you should start with an ergonomic evaluation of your workplace to determine the best sit-stand model for your office or cubical and also consider any physical limitations you may have,” said Pereira. “Never abruptly start standing at work, but rather, gradually increase your standing time so that after about four weeks you are standing at your desk for about half of your desk-time.”
Pereira added that the beauty of the sit-stand workstations is that they easily go up and down and take your computer monitor with them. Posture and footwear are also important.