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Benefits Of Standing At Work

How to improve conditions for standing workers.

The health risks and back problems that seated workers face have been well publicised in recent months, with many health experts even suggesting that sitting is the new smoking, due to links with chronic diseases, but can this be cured simply by standing up at work?

Sitting Disease is already linked to a wide range of serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes and earlier this year the Medical College of Wisconsin discovered that even regular exercise cannot completely protect you from the risks, because an hour in the gym is quickly undone by a few hours sitting down.

They looked at more than 2,000 adults, with an average age of 50, who spent just over five hours a day on average sitting down, and found that for every hour in the chair, the levels of artery deposits in their blood vessels, that are a signal for heart disease, increased by 14%. Even those who went for regular runs, gym sessions or aerobics classes were at no less risk.

The advice to come out of the study is to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day but, just as importantly, stand up or go for a walk every hour. Reducing the amount of time you sit by just an hour a day can have a significant and positive impact on your cardiovascular health.

Because employees and employers are waking up to the risks of sitting down all day, there is a growing trend towards exploring how workers can adopt standing work positions. However, anyone who spends all day on their feet will immediately tell you what a gruelling experience it can be!

Standing in the same position for a long time soon becomes uncomfortable and regular, prolonged standing on hard floor surfaces can have long-term health implications for the joints, feet, legs, ankles, lower back, neck and shoulders. Ideally workers who are standing up for long periods should use anti-fatigue matting or perch stools and wear suitable footwear in order to stay comfortable.

The best answer between sitting or standing, is to find a balance and adopt a variety of positions throughout the day. Some countries are really embracing this and in Scandinavia it’s estimated that 80% of office workers now have adjustable desks which means they can choose whether to sit or stand depending on how they’re feeling.

In the UK this figure is less than 1% according to campaign group Get Britain Standing and improving this is likely to be a long process. Implementing sit / stand solutions can be a significant investment and might even mean redesigning premises and changing routines that some employees will want to keep.

However, in the meantime, all employees can be encouraged to make a difference by moving around more and taking regular breaks.

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