The Standing desk movement:
To sit or stand, which is the answer?
With us undertaking more hours at the computer/desk people are looking for ways to make themselves as comfortable and pain free as possible. The truth is the human body is not made to sit for extended periods of time. Thinking about our spine as a spring, when we sit this spring is constantly loaded and it means that eventually it gets sore and painful. What our body needs and craves is movement.
Swiss balls where very popular from the early 2000’s, but the truth is you can slump on a Swiss ball just like you can in a chair. What they did provide though was movement, that slight movement from side to side or up and down was enough to keep that spring moving. Following the same fundamentals more companies are providing standing work stations for their workers. The thought of standing for 8 hours in a day makes my legs hurt already, but when you stand you rock side to side and sway and that again is enough to unload that spring. Also by standing you are distributing that force and load that would have just been on your spine through your hips and legs. So having an adjustable desk in which you can stand for a while and sit for a while it the ideal set up.
More research is coming out of America that is looking into the benefits of moving more at work. Things like walking meetings are being held. It has been shown that walking meetings will be on average 10 minutes shorter than sitting ones and also have a higher information retention rate (also no one falls asleep in a walking meeting). Certain companies are even looking at having a treadmill desk set-up to break up your day. A lot of the time this obviously would not be practical but you are getting the idea.
So what is the take home message? Move (pun intended) more at work, whether it be a walk at lunch time, getting up to get a cup of water or having your offices first walking meeting. By doing this you will let the body do more of what it wants to and minimize the aches and pains that come with long hours at the desk.
- Thompson WG, Levine JA Productivity of transcriptionists using a treadmill desk. Work 2011;40(4):473-7
- Levine JA et al. Non-exercise physical activity in agricultural and urban people. Urban Stud. 2011;48(11):2417-427