Sit to stand workstations seems to be the go to solution for companies to deal with prolonged sitting. Although there is merit to this approach, we need to understand that prolonged sitting or standing is both bad for the body and that the key solution is to make our bodies move throughout the day.
Unfortunately, sit to stand stations are being used improperly. Rather than using it to take a break from sitting, many employees are now spending a fair amount of time standing as well. Yes, there are health benefits to using sit-to-stand workstations such as changing positions for low back pain relief, but they do nothing to improve cardiovascular health or improve overall joint health. Also, prolonged standing brings a whole new variety of risk factors such as spinal compression which can lead to lower back problems, increased risk of pelvic imbalances and associated joint compression from standing unbalanced, risk of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and other cardiovascular issues since the heart has to work against gravity to keep blood flowing.
A physiology expert from Nottingham University, Dr. Alan Taylor expressed his concerns in a recent research article, stating that the expansion and popularity of standing desks has been largely driven by popularity rather than scientific evidence. He also stated that as in dieting (where one food is replaced for another), replacing one activity with another doesn’t often bode well for good health.
Another article from Science Daily also highlighted the need to better understand how to use sit-to-stand workstations to get the full health benefits – this was a conclusion by Dr. April Chambers from the University of Pittsburgh who collaborated and reviewed over 50 research articles surrounding sit-to-stand workstations.
As with many health objectives, I believe moderation and balance is the key in using sit-to-stand workstations. Firstly, employees need to be educated on the proper ergonomic setup for both sitting and standing positions of their workstations. Secondly, employees need to be taught how to properly and efficiently use their sit-to-stand workstations through the course of their workday to get optimal benefits. The final key, is we all need to stay active and mobile!
Have you read our first article? To Sit or Stand at your Workstation? That is the Question!