If you could stand a change, I’ve got a suggestion for you!
Carrie Schmitz, Office Ergonomics Consultant and Engineering Publications Manager @ Ergotron
“Move it or lose it.”
“No pain, no gain.”
“To sit is to die.”
“Oppressed so hard they cannot stand, let my people go.”
The original meaning of these sayings was never aimed at getting people to stop sitting. However, as an author, I’m going to utilize my artistic license, and pretend they do. I’m also going to tell you that sitting less in 2011 may be one of the most attainable and beneficial resolutions you could keep.
In previous blogs on office ergonomics, I’ve made several suggestions on creating a healthier work life style. This year I’ve decided to change tactics. No more skirting around the issue with polite hints and cautious prods. There is such an abundance of scientific evidence supporting movement in the office (not to mention in the classroom, the subject of future blogs), that in good conscious I can’t soft soap the topic any longer.
While I acknowledge there is no such thing as an “average” American, significant research indicates that in general, Americans and indeed those Canadians, Australians, Western Europeans and British who share key behaviors with their Yankee cousins, spend too much time engaged in sedentary behavior and not enough time engaged in non-exercise physical activity (7.7 hours total sitting time estimates one study).
How does that translate into the vernacular of Walmart shoppers and Wall Street stockbrokers? Simply put, we must get out of our chairs and stop leaving every task to automation. It turns out, that washing dishes by hand is better for the body and the environment than using the dishwasher.
There are many reasons that this is true and loads of research explaining why. Take this, for example: sitting for a prolonged (over 4 hours) period slows down your metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories.
Okay, maybe you’re one of the lucky one’s who doesn’t worry about your weight, consider this: sitting too much puts you at a higher risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes – chronic disorders that will certainly impact the quality of your life, if not also shortening it.
On the flip side, let’s say you do make the effort to move more and more often, you stand to benefit in several ways: improved concentration, better digestion, stronger bones and muscles, increased oxygen intake, improved stamina, even less temptation to snack.
People in my office (Ergotron headquarters are located in Eagan, Minnesota) who work at sit/stand desks report feeling less exhausted and don’t experience the afternoon energy drop that was typical when they spent the entire day sitting.
In my own case, standing all day has alleviated lower back pain associated with degenerative disk disease and arthritis of the spine. Back when I had a sit-only desk, the pain I suffered put my job in jeopardy. I can attest that switching to a standing desk has extended my career. But testimonials in favor of standing aren’t limited to Ergotron.
In my opinion, the sit-stand desk might just be the most important safety innovation for knowledge workers to come along since the dawn of the personal computer. As such, everyone who wishes to avoid the dangers of sedentary behavior should consider the sit-stand work configuration and employers should provide their employees with this healthy opportunity. If you’re looking for justification, read Ergotron’s more recent White Paper: Standing Up for Work Place Wellness.
Years ago, when someone suggested that I’d be more fit and trim by drinking 8 glasses of water every day, did I do it? Of course not. It was just TOO easy. But don’t think that means I’m going to back slide with some platitude about how I understand if you don’t take my advice about sedentary behavior, you’re wrong. I’m declaring 2011 the year for office wellness – and it starts by standing up.
In my next blog, I’ll give you practical advice on how to incorporate sit-stand in your work routine. Until then, here’s a short video on sit-stand to inspire you.