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Help your workers stand upHelp your workers stand up

Research says standing more in an office setting is better than sitting, and walking is better still.

Alan Newport

November 6, 2017

2 Min Read
Help your workers stand up
Height-adjustable workstations like this have become the rage, but some of the latest research says moving is more important than standing.mokee81-iStock-Thinkstock

As a veterinarian or animal health expert, it's likely you spend a lot of time on your feet. Scientific study implies that's healthy, but some members of your office staff may be sitting too much for their own good.

Research on the idea that standing more in an office setting is better than sitting is ongoing. Much of it was spurred by James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. Other researchers have jumped into the fray, and the consensus at this time is that workers are better off, physically, if they can incorporate standing, pacing and other forms of activity into their normal day, possibly including standing at their desks or workstations part of the time.

Levine began down this path by researching why some office workers gained more weight than others. He put them all on diets about 1,000 calories higher per day than each typically ate, then monitored movement and weight gain. He found the participants who weren't gaining weight were up and walking around an average of 2.25 more hours per day. This was true even though all of them worked at sit-down desks and none were going to the gym.

Other research has suggested that a regimen of increased movement and standing versus only sitting at a desk might decrease metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and perhaps even some cancers.

More recently, says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, wrote in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that many of the studies on sitting-standing mixtures were either too small to be significant, were poorly designed were not randomized and controlled trials, and none exceeded six months.

Verbeek added that changing behavior is difficult, in reference to sit-stand desks in particular. Instead, he thinks redesigning work environments might be more successful. For example, he suggests putting a printer in the corridor so it’s further away from the desk, or making the trip to bathrooms longer and possibly upstairs.

Many workers, however, welcome the chance to move around, or stand for parts of the day.

A recent Cornell University ergonomics publication suggests, "Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for eight minutes and move for two minutes."

The Cornell authors said their literature review said absolute time of movement and sitting isn’t critical, but simply standing is insufficient. Movement is key.

About the Author(s)

Alan Newport

Editor, Beef Producer

Alan Newport is editor of Beef Producer, a national magazine with editorial content specifically targeted at beef production for Farm Progress’s 17 state and regional farm publications. Beef Producer appears as an insert in these magazines for readers with 50 head or more of beef cattle. Newport lives in north-central Oklahoma and travels the U.S. to meet producers and to chase down the latest and best information about the beef industry.

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