Standing up on the job, worth the hype?

Anyone who has ever had a “desk” job knows the drill. You get to work, unpack for the day, sit down at your desk, and go. Perhaps, every so often you make your way to the coffee pot or copy machine, but save for your lunch break  (given you’re actually taking a break and not working between bites of your tuna fish sandwich), you are stuck. You find that your task chair has permanent divots from your back side, because for 8 hours a day, you remain trapped in the dark abyss, otherwise known as your seat.

Now, let’s take a minute to explore the consequences of remaining in a sitting position all day. According to an article written for the Mayo Clinic, “One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack. The increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure.

Sitting in front of the TV isn’t the only concern. Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What’s more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk. “ (Levine). The article goes on to suggest that the best ways to alleviate the risk of “sitting” too long, is to:  (drum roll please)… Stand. Go figure.  You know those two extremities that hang off of our bodies, and find their way to the floor every now and again? You know, legs? Use them. Use them often!

Fortunately, many furniture manufacturers are making it easy for office workers to perform their daily duties while having the capability to stand up at their desks.  Ease of use and ability to customize finishes make them an option worth considering.

I can personally attest to the many benefits of a sit-to-stand workstation. One of the great privileges of working in this industry, is the ability to gain (and lose!) a new work station rather swiftly.  When my original, regular ole’ sitting workstation was sold, I had the opportunity to swoop in and stake my claim on a fantastic sit-to-stand desk that was occupying our showroom.  Admittedly, I had a few concerns. Things like desk space and ease of use were the cause of my primary trepidations. That said, my anxiety has all but been alleviated.

I have been a proud occupant of my very own sit-to-stand for nearly two months.  I can tell you from my own perspective; I never want to go back to anything else.  I find it especially helpful to stand up while writing, as I am actually doing at this very moment.  While standing, I become much more focused and alert. I no longer find the need to “walk away” from my desk just to get clear or take a short break.  I have far less back-related stress, and what’s more, in my research of the benefits of this product, I have also found that a person can burn up to 20% more calories just by standing for part of the day. Truth be told, that was my favorite factoid, as I now can justify my occasional 3pm cookie break.

Only time will tell, but as more and more employers focus their objectives on their employee’s health and become proactive in preventing maladies, it has become apparent that this current trend may not actually be a trend at all, but an industry mainstay. I think perhaps we’ve been granted a peek into the future of workspace planning.

Source: (Levine, James A., M.D., Ph.D. .  Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?.  16 June 2012.  24 Jan. 2014 <>.


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