There is a lot of confusion in the workplace these days about how to stay healthy at work, especially with all the extensive advertisements for sit-stand workstations.
The new data that labels sitting as the new smoking is alarming, to say the least. Most of us sit for work, drive to work, and sit for relaxation in the evening. So what are we to do?
Is standing the best alternative to sitting? Let’s explore this.
Standing does burn more calories than sitting, so that is a definite advantage.
But for some people it is more difficult to focus when standing. If your job requires significant multitasking, it is best that this work be done while seated.
Some people have limited standing ability due to foot, knee and/or hip pain, so a sit-stand station would not be a viable option for them.
A sit-stand workstation does permit you to adjust your working position throughout the day. But what if you don’t have access to one or can’t afford one? Are you just out of luck? There is always hope.
What you actually need is more movement, more frequently. Moving frequently gives much-needed relief to your back, legs, eyes and hands. So let’s get creative.
If you drive to work, you have already done considerable sitting even before you start your workday. By parking farther away, you can add more movement not only to the beginning of your workday, but also to the end.
Going to get a cup of coffee, water or tea adds more movement. And when you need to use a bathroom, try going up one floor or down to get even more exercise.
Need to brainstorm? Try it while standing with sheets of paper on the wall. Or at a flip chart.
Here is a great idea: try a walking meeting. Walking meetings work with small groups or one-to-one. Standing meetings burn more calories. You will also notice they tend to be more efficient and consume less time.
Do you overfocus? I do! Set a timer to remind yourself to take a break each hour. TimeBoss 2 is a free app with a 60-minute timer called the anti-RSI (repetitive strain injury) break. Tap it, and get ready to move when it goes off.
Get out of your chair to make a copy, do a flight of stairs, take a quick walk, stretch, or . . .
Find a co-worker who also wants to move more. Commit to making a part of your lunch or at least one break a day a time for walking.
With a little creativity, you can start to add more movement more frequently throughout your day and be confident you are promoting better health while working.
So is the question really, “Do we need to sit or stand?” No, the question is, “Do we move or not?” Our bodies have been adapted for generations to function best with movement. So work in agreement with your body and add more movement, more frequently.
About Your Columnist
Sheila Swaddle is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers workplace health. The owner of Work Smart Physical Therapy & Ergonomics in San Diego, she is a physical therapist with over 15 years treating and preventing workplace injuries. She likes Keeping America at Work, and Working Smart.