Your workplace can influence all aspects of your life from the emotional to the physical. In recent years, there has been an increase in interest on the impacts of workplace behaviors such as sitting for extended periods of time on one’s overall health. Perhaps the interest stems from the fact that more and more people are working more and more hours; or perhaps the interest comes from our recognition that our overall health seems to be steadily declining as the years progress. Our focus has shifted to healthier habits, and new research is shedding light on the effects of sedentary behaviour on our physical well-being.
The workplace can have a tangible effect on our health, so it’s no surprise that a trending decrease in overall health is causing researchers to take note to pinpoint the factors that are causing this. Several studies have started to shed some light on the impacts of sedentary behavior in the workplace, and one in particular has ignited a fire for change in workplace ergonomics.
Replacing Sedentary Behaviors
Conducted by researchers at Sydney Uni and published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, this new study is taking previous findings about the ill impacts of too much sitting one step further by studying the impacts that standing can have on improving one’s health. Lead study author Prof. Emmanuel Stamatakis notes that previous studies“established the benefits of adequate physical activity or sleep and the risks of too much sitting, but this is the first to look at what happens when we replace one activity with an equal amount of another.”
By studying the impacts of replacing sedentary behaviors with activity, researchers collected data from over 200,000 subjects. The results suggested that by replacing 1 hour of sitting each day with walking, we can decrease our chance of early death by 12-14%. Additionally, the team found that swapping just 1 hour of sitting each day with standing results in a 5% decrease in risk of early death.
Where Work Comes into Play
The latter of these findings is especially important then as we circle back to workplace ergonomics and the impact of sedentary behavior at the workplace on one’s health. Building on these findings, yet another study delved further into sitting versus standing at desks. Sit-stand desks are making their way into our offices, allowing for workers to choose between sitting all day and standing for a portion of their day. These desks are height-adjustable and are designed to make it easy to move the worker’s posture from sitting to standing and back again.
This new study shows that employees with sit-stand desks stand for 1 hour more a day at work, compared with co-workers who have sit-only desks. The study, as reported in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also finds that the sit-stand desk users walked an additional 6 minutes a day at work and burned an extra 87 calories on average, compared with co-workers with sit-only desks.
Some offices are now introducing agile workstations to help with ergonomics and the health of employees.
Add Regular Movement to Your Workday
The takeaway message is this: There’s more and more evidence linking sedentary behavior to ill health consequences, and addressing sedentary behaviors in the workplace is essential to crafting a healthy environment for your employees. Sit-stand desks are an innovative way to providing employees with the tools they need to promote a healthier lifestyle right at their own desk.
Sit-stand desks are just one of the ways to help workers reduce their sedentary behavior while at work, but it’s also important to teach employees different ways to utilize their work environment without sacrificing their comfort or health too. Kathleen Porter, author of Natural Posture for Pain Free Living, is an expert in teaching the principles of posture, and she believes the majority of pain experienced in the world is posture-related.
Believe it or not, there is a way to sit and make it into a physical activity. Often, if you have a sitting-kind of job, you’re spending much of your day swinging back and forth from one to the other, not knowing that there is this beautiful, peaceful, and relaxed middle place. If you know how to align your bones and let them support you, it’s easy. There’s no effort involved and it’s not stressful.
Analyse Your Workspace
Many find that a quick glance at their office setup can reveal a lot about the posture and positions that your employees are restricted to throughout the day. Are desks and computers set up in a way that promotes bad posture? Do employees have desk areas that promote better health? The best way to approach workplace impacts on the health of your employees is by having an ergonomics assessment, which can reveal many of these key areas of concern.
HSG can teach the principles of ergonomics with a group workshop or identify good opportunities for certain staff members to upgrade to a Sit-to-Stand desk with an individual workstation assessment – call 1300 889 073.