Over the last few decades, computers have become the universal modality to perform office-based work. The standard employee workstation is a cubicle or a table or desk with a chair where the computer is placed. This is where a lot of employees do the majority of their work every day. This creates unnatural positions and a rigid posture for extended periods of time. Extended periods of sitting, characterized by an energy expenditure of less that 1.5 METS has been defined as sedentary behavior. Independent of the physical activity of individuals, sedentary work has been associated with several adverse health outcomes such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and premature mortality (Karol, S., & Robertson, M., 2014).
The solution is not to be sedentary all day at work and then do a workout at home. Evidence suggests that the negative effect of extended sitting cannot be countered by brief bouts of exercise. The answer is incorporating standing, pacing and other forms of activity into your normal day. A 2012 study found that if the average American reduced his or her sitting time to three hours per day, life expectancy would climb by two years (Stromberg, J., 2014). We need to design and organize our workstation in such a way that it promotes movement. We are biologically designed to move more than we do. We need to build our day in a manner that allows us to move. That may be as simple as making sure we get our breaks and get outside. Or that we design our offices so that people have to get up to get their printed documents or central resources. Or meetings are held in areas where everybody walks to (“Why sitting”, 2)
Unfortunately, standing for long hours can also cause health problems such as back and knee pain, muscle fatigue, leg cramps and impeded blood flow and stasis in the veins in the lower limbs, which can cause varicose veins.
Most experts recommend splitting your time between standing and sitting. The easiest ways to accomplish this are either using a desk that can be raised upward or a tall chair that you can pull up to your desk when you need to sit. It is also important to ease into it, they say, by standing for just a few hours a day while your body becomes used to the strain, and move around a bit, by shifting your position or pacing as you work (Stromberg, J., 2014).
The most important thing to remember is to move. If you must sit for long periods of time, take a short break once an hour to break the monotony, stretch and move your body. Take the time to step away, recharge and refresh. Another benefit of short breaks during your work day is a decrease in job stress and burnout. We have the potential to be healthier and happier. Let’s get focused and get moving.
“I move, therefore I am.”
― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
References: Karol, Sohit, and Michelle M. Robertson. “Implications of Sit-Stand and Active Workstations to Counteract the Adverse Effects of Sedentary Work: A Comprehensive Review.” Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, vol. 52, 3 Mar. 2014, pp. 255–267., doi:DOI:10.3233/WOR-152168.
Stromberg, Joseph. “Five Health Benefits of Standing Desks.” Smithsonian.com, 26 Mar. 2014, www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-health-benefits-standing-desks-180.
“Why sitting at work is bad for your health and what you can do about it.” The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 4 June 2015, General OneFile, http://link.galfegroup.com.exproxy. Snhu.edu/apps/doc/A416521344/ITOF?u=nhc_main&sid=ITOF&xid=e58f9285. Accessed 27 Dec. 2018