You may have heard sitting is bad for your health, but does
that mean we should stand all day instead?
If you’re an average office worker, then you’re probably
spending over six hours a day sitting at work. Studies tell us that prolonged
sitting may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high
blood pressure and stroke, even if you’re a keen exerciser. Sitting without
breaks can also lead to a sore and stiff neck, shoulders and back.
But standing all day can be hard on your body too, and a
combination of sitting and standing seems to bring the most benefits. In 2015,
the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a review of the scientific
evidence on how to best address sedentary behaviour in the office. They
recommended ‘accumulating at least two hours per day of standing and light
activity (such as light walking) during working hours.’
The sit-stand desk
One popular solution to the increasing sedentary nature of
our jobs is the sit-stand desk, which allows you to move between sitting and
standing while at work. But how do you use these to ensure you get the
recommended two hours of standing or light activity?
The answer, according to Alan Hedge, Cornell University
ergonomist, is the Sit-Stand-Stretch or 20-8-2 regimen. The involves, for every
30 minutes of your workday:
- 20 minutes of sitting (in good posture)
- 8 minutes of standing, and
- 2 minutes standing and moving.
For an average workday of seven and half hours, standing for
two hours and moving for 30 minutes.
Even if you don’t have access to a standing desk you can
still take regular breaks from sitting. One way to do this is to work in
25-minute bursts, after which you stand up and take a five-minute break. This
is also known as the Pomodoro Technique, so named because the bursts of time
can be measured using little tomato-shaped kitchen timers – Pomodoro is Italian
Use your five-minute break to move your body – perhaps
walking to the kitchen to refill your water glass or grab a tea or coffee, or
doing some simple neck, shoulder and back stretches.
If you don’t have a tomato timer, there are plenty of apps
online that can keep track of your sessions.