Standing or sitting, what’s best?

August 12, 2014 Uncategorized

Recently here at VergoUK, we’ve been looking into the sit-stand debate and wanted to share our findings with you. It’s really interesting to think that something so simple as how long we sit or stand each day can affect our health.

Here are our key findings on the sit-stand debate.

Our bodies are designed to help us walk and stand yet we spend over 50% of our day sitting down*. This not only puts pressure on the back but it means some muscles are being overused and others underused. It can affect your circulation, bodytone, weight, posture, lymph systems and your basic energy for the day.

The sit-stand debate has so far suggested that people who mix their positions during the day are healthier, fitter and have less back problems.

Professor Levine, a British Doctor, recently published a book that covered all the research so far carried out for the sit-stand debate and found the following:

  • Studies into diabetes by the Mayo Clinic showed sitting after a meal increased blood sugar for around two hours. If a short walk was taken for 15 minutes blood sugar levels halved, therefore reducing the risk of diabetes.
  • US physiologist Mark Hamilton found that it affects your cholesterol levels too. People who sat for hours at a time saw an increase in triglycerides, known as bad cholesterol and therefore became more prone to heart disease.
  • Levine’s study tested 16 people being over-fed 1000 calories a day for 8 weeks. The people who spent more time sat down gained the most weight. In a second study people had the same jobs and food levels but wore movement trackers. The people who put on the most weight sat more, not helping the vicious circle.
  • Professor Levine concluded that for ever hour you stay completely seated you could loose two hours of your life. Quite a shocking statement but based on studies that had linked sitting with an increase in osteoporosis, breast and prostate cancer, obesity, depression and back pain.

As shocking as these stats are they shouldn’t be frightening as it’s really easy to change. Levine says that the brain will start to respond after just 3 weeks of increased movement, even after years of sitting, so we can make a positive impact really quickly.

If your job involves you sitting for most of the day there are now a range of desks that can be easily raised so that they work in both a sitting and standing position. You can also get adaptors to raise your existing workstation. Some of the things to consider if you want to change to a sit-stand approach are access to electrical points, network points and length of wires, just check they all still reach and are not causing any safety concerns.

standing picture

If you can’t change your workstation then there are a few things you can do still to help:

  • Stand up when talking on the phone
  • Make sure you take regular breaks – set an alarm on your phone
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime
  • Stand up to talk to a colleague instead of going into a meeting room
  • Read a document standing up so you get a short stretch every now and then
  • Don’t park in the nearest space make yourself walk a fair distance to the office so at least you know you are getting some exercise
  • If you are doing filing find a raised area other than your desk and do it standing up
  • When you get home make sure you are doing at least one activity standing up
  • If you sit and watch TV at night make sure you stand and walk around when the adverts come on.

Why not track how long you sit and stand for each day – you might be surprised.

*Professor Levine estimated the average day involves sitting 13 hours, sleeping 8 hours, moving 3 hours. Sitting down is killing you by Professor James A Levine, 26th July 2014.

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