Sit-stand workstations have been introduced by many progressive organizations as a way to reduce musculoskeletal discomfort and disorders, and to combat the health consequences associated with “sitting disease”. Studies show that adults sit, on average, 10-15 hours a day with most of that time likely spent sitting behind a desk. Studies also show that sitting too much leads to major health problems including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and even death.
Contrary to what you may think, sitting too much isn’t the only issue. In fact, standing too much can deteriorate one’s health as well. What’s hurting us is a lack of movement and activity throughout the day. Encouraging movement while remaining productive can be a challenge. The good news is that it can be managed, and a sit-stand workstation is one way to start. Before developing a formal policy on them, consider these three facts:
Transitioning from a properly configured seated workstation to a sit-stand workstation may have little impact on productivity. But using a sit-stand workstation to replace a workstation that causes injury or discomfort will increase worker productivity, and improve comfort and health.
Sit-stand workstations have a positive impact on reducing musculoskeletal discomfort and improving health. However, these impacts are not physiologically greater than introducing other methods that promote large body movement, such as holding “walking meetings” or walking over to talk face-to-face with a coworker instead of using email. Adding movement throughout the day will keep blood circulating, increase caloric expenditure, and increase cardiac output.
Prolonged standing (>15% of the workday) can result in musculoskeletal fatigue, discomfort, joint damage, low back pain, pain in the feet, hips and legs, hypertension, muscle acidification, and more.
The bottom line is this—alternating between sitting, standing, and moving throughout the day is recommended.