If you spend the majority of your working day sitting down like many of us do, this is a must read, because quite honestly this sedentary lifestyle is taking a major toll on our health.  The good news is that a slight daily routine adjustment will greatly reduce the negative impact sitting can have and we can work back into living a healthier lifestyle.  It’s not a matter of completely removing sitting down at work; let’s face it, when a task requires a great amount of focus, taking a seat and isolating yourself while trying to hammer it out for a few hours seems to be the thing to do.  While this may get the job done, your body needs movement and there are better, healthier ways to work around it.

How bad can it be? 

First, it is important to really understand how bad our habits are getting.  According to an article on Cision PR Newswire, People spend an average of 13 hours a day sitting down, with the majority of this time being at work and the rest is spent on other seated activities such as eating, watching television, reading, playing video games, or using a home computer.  That coupled with the average person sleeping 7-8 hours a night means that the average person is sedentary for close to 21 hours of the day, which is quite frightening, especially if many of these hours are in cumulative sessions.

What impact is this having on our health?

Staying in the seated position for hours on end, day after day creates significant risks to your health.  The scientific community coined the term ‘Sitting Disease’, which is a name assigned for metabolic syndrome, that HealthLinkBC defines as “a group of health problems that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol.  Together, this group of health problems increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.”  We discuss this condition because it results from a diet of too many calories and an inactive lifestyle, which can also lead to insulin resistance and result in a higher possibility of developing type 2 diabetes due to blood sugar rising.

This is just one part of the risks involved, there are also studies emerging with full details on all the potential dangers involved with sitting for excessive time periods, as seen on the BetterHealth Channel website.  Dangers such as your mental health deteriorating over time, an increased chance of developing different types of cancer, muscle weakening, and more.

Incorporating more Movement in the Workplace.

Most employees would rather have the option to stand up while they work or at least have an office design that allows for frequent movement and space changes.  People understand that sitting down all day is hurting their overall health, even if they don’t fully understand all the risks, so considering a change in your office furniture and layout could potentially be beneficial for everyone.  Found on Steelcase, when Arizona State University (ASU) was remodeling their offices, employees could choose between a height-adjustable sit-to-stand desk or a traditional seat height desk, with 80% choosing the height-adjustable desk.

During a one-year study conducted by Steelcase, they studied employees that switched to sit-stand desks from traditional desks and chairs.  The results were unbelievable — three months into the study there was a 17% reduction in sitting down, 47% of people saying their upper back, neck, or shoulder pain was reduced, 88% of people believed they were really convenient to have, 65% of the study reported that they had an increase in productivity, also saying they felt more energetic and focused throughout the day.

Let’s look at other ways to stay healthier at work.

  • One of the easiest ways to create a habit is to communicate face-to-face with people in your office rather than sending emails. Every time you need to speak with a co-worker, walk over to them.  They can’t possibly be that far and every time you do this, you are creating a healthy habit, activating your body, and may even get a boost of energy or creativity while you are away from your screen.
  • Another easy way to spike movement is to hold walking meetings.  Take a walk down the street and discuss what you need to along the way if your office community allows for it.  This is a great way to gain a change of scenery, a little fresh air, and to inspire creativity.
  • Switch postures and locations frequently. If you have been sitting in the same position for a while, move around a bit, stand up and work, or if your office is equipped with laptops, tablets or cellphones, get up and move to a different work-space.  It doesn’t have to be a rigorous schedule but add some movement whenever possible and your body will appreciate it, trust us.
  • Finally, make the switch to more ergonomic office equipment and office layout. Your office chair should move with your body and allow for many different movements and postures, your desk should have a height adjustable option, and your office building should have a large variety of spaces encouraging people to move around and collaborate with co-workers throughout the day.  Employees should never feel like they must stay stationed at their desk all day long, it is bad for their health and well-being, productivity, and will not benefit anyone.

 “for a healthy workday, sit, stand, and walk—each offer benefits. When seated or standing, keep moving. Balancing active sitting and standing with walking helps maintain physical and cognitive well-being.” -Steelcase

Our Recommendation.

Most importantly, begin with changing your work habits, progress each day and also set goals for yourself to create a routine.  Steelcase conducted a global report studying office workers in 17 different countries and found that workers used fixed technology twice as much as mobile technology.  More specifically, researchers found that 86% of offices have landline phones compared to only 39% offering cell phones, and 80% of offices are equipped with desktop computers while only 39% have laptops.

Fixed technology simply doesn’t offer the workers the ability to be mobile and active in the office.  Employees can easily transfer to other work-spaces or walk-and-talk easily with mobile technology, while workers still using landline phones and computers are limited to their desk.  Along with providing workers with the proper technology, such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops, design the workplace to be supportive of movement with a variety of workplace types for the different ways people work, encouraging employees to move from space to space gathering new ideas and keeping their mind and body active and healthy.

Office Equipment that supports movement.

Gesture, by Steelcase, an office chair designed based on the research of human body movements and changes in posture. Fully customizable and adapted to support and move along with the body, encouraging movement throughout the day.

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The Series 5 and Series 7, both height-adjustable desks for incredibly simple transitions from sitting to standing throughout the workday. Whether working independently or with others, users can adjust the height with a click of a button and set the table height to the best possible position for maximum comfort.

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The Walk-Station is another incredible tool for the workplace and employees will love it.  Allocating one station in a private office area and having another station located in a central office area, perhaps in front of a large window where users obtain an outdoor view and sunlight is a great design idea.   These stations can allow users to stay active by walking while they work and boost productivity and energy levels as well.

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