We’ve known for some time that too much sitting increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, certain kinds of cancers and early death. In a previous post on sitting, we talked about the fact that life is about movement; if we don’t keep moving, our circulation, brains, bowels and back become sluggish and get stuck, which stops us from doing the things that we enjoy.
Until now, it has been unclear how much standing during the work day may counter this increased risk. However, a recent study presented at the 2015 World Diabetes Congress by Joseph Henson MD has published some new recommendations on how to offset the negative health outcomes of sedentary behaviour.
The key finding? Breaking up prolonged sitting with 5 minutes of standing every half hour can improve cardio-metabolic health.
In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Dr Henson noted that this result “just shows really that getting out of the chair is important. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do”- just as long as sitting time is reduced. This study further compounds earlier research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on the numerous drawbacks of a sedentary office.
The solution? In addition to Dr Henson’s guideline of 5 minutes of standing every half hour, try implementing the following suggestions into your day:
- Regularly break up seat-based work with standing-based work, with the use of adjustable sit-stand desks.
- Avoid prolonged static standing – which can be just as bad as sitting! Whether sitting or standing, we often lose track of time as we become absorbed in our work, and we forget we’ve been in one position for hours. Altering your posture or light walking will help alleviate possible musculoskeletal pain and fatigue.
- Do shoulder rolls. Shoulders can slump when you’re standing as well as sitting, and correctly doing shoulder rolls will help restabilise your shoulders. Try this helpful demonstration guide.
- Check your ergonomics. When you readjust your sit-stand desk, don’t make any egregious errors, like having the keyboard at chest height or the monitor positioned such that you have to crane your neck back to see. Use this as a helpful indication:
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Breaking up sitting with standing is something that should also follow you out of the office; try standing up whenever you check Facebook, take a phonecall or catch public transport. Remember: reducing sedentary time is an important message – make sure you share it with your loved ones and colleagues.