Stand up from your desks – it could save your life!
Readers talk back
Next time you are organising a meeting, take away the chairs. Standing up might help you and your staff stave off health nasties such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and even cancer.
Federal Government agency Comcare reports there is considerable evidence suggesting that prolonged sitting increases your risk of chronic disease, even if you engage in regular exercise.
Research from the University of Sydney found that people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 per cent more likely to die three years earlier than those who sit for less than four hours.
And a study by Medibank Australia, of workers in office-based, retail and call centre roles, revealed they spent 76 per cent of their work day sitting and tend to underestimate their overall sitting time.
Concerned by the health risks of too much sitting, Comcare instigated a pilot study last year called Stand up Comcare – Promoting Health by Tackling Sitting as a Risk Factor for Chronic Disease.
Teaming up with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the University of Queensland, the study involved an intervention group of workers receiving an Ergotron sit-to-stand workstation for a four-week period. The amount of time participants spent sitting was measured using an electronic device that monitored sitting, standing and walking. A control group continued working as usual.
The results of the study revealed that:
- Participants in the intervention group reduced sitting time by 25 per cent. This is equivalent to two hours of a standard eight-hour work day.
- Blood glucose levels were reduced in the intervention group at follow-up.
- Self-reported productivity increased significantly in the intervention group.
Even short breaks from sitting can reduce your health risks. Comcare offers the following strategies for bosses and their staff to help them stand up, sit less and move more:
· Ensure a standing-friendly culture is promoted and supported. If managers practice strategies to reduce sedentary behaviours, workers are much more likely to reduce their sedentary behaviour also.
· Update meeting agenda templates to include a standing agenda item and encourage staff to stand during meetings.
· Encourage walking meetings between individuals or small groups.
· Where possible, review and revise job and task design to minimise sitting time for sedentary workers.
· Provide sit-to-stand workstations for workers in largely sedentary roles or staff returning to work who may be at risk of chronic disease.
· Walk over and talk to colleagues instead of emailing.
· Use separately located bins and/or printers.
· Drink more water so you have to go to the water cooler (and bathroom) more often.
· Use a bathroom that is further away.
· Step outside for fresh air.
· Use the stairs instead of the lift.
· Use an active way of commuting to work (walk or ride your bike, stand on the train, stand up to wait for your train/bus).
· Park your car further away from work or park in short-term parking so you have to walk back to move your car.
· Have lunch away from your desk.
· Walk laps of the floor at regular intervals to break up the day.
· Walk around the neighbourhood at lunch – developing two or three timed walking routes to fit into your working day and promote variety.