The Evidence

How Can Using a Standing Desk Affect Your Productivity

This article is re-posted from a Sedentary Behaviour Research Network blog post on 3rd July 2019. Recently, research into the topic of excessive sitting, or “sedentary behaviour”, has been making headlines. The risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, that comes with high levels of sitting is becoming more evident (1). Office workers represent a population that spend a significant amount of time in sedentary pursuits as a consequence of their occupation (2). As more research is being published on the topic, many workplaces are seeking non-sedentary alternatives and solutions to the traditional office environment to keep their employees as healthy and productive as possible. One such solution has been the implementation of activity-permissive workstations. Activity-permissive, or alternative, workstations replace a worker’s traditional desk and are broadly categorized into either standing desks or dynamic workstations. Standing desks allow for a worker to stand while performing a task (e.g., typing, clerical work), and can be installed as additions to an existing workstation, or as height-adjustable replacement units (see Figure 1). Dynamic workstations are designed to allow for activity or movement while working, and include a variety of alternative workstations, such as: treadmill desks, cycling desks, and dynamic sitting desks…

“Sit less—move more and more often”: all physical activity is beneficial for longevity

This article was originally published in the BMJ Opinion on 21st August 2019. New research shows that any level of movement decreases risk of premature death, so get moving say Ulf Ekelund and Thomas Yates It is well established that physical activity of a moderate or vigorous intensity (such as brisk walking) is good for your health. More recently, it has also been shown that people in contemporary societies are spending the majority of their day sitting, and that this prolonged sitting is also linked to an increased risk for many chronic diseases and premature death. Current physical activity recommendations, including those recently updated for the US, suggest that at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity is needed to keep healthy and that prolonged sitting should be avoided. However, how much sitting is too much? This is not specified and is widely debated. In addition, are levels of physical activity below those recommended still beneficial for health and does light intensity physical activity still count? Answering these questions have huge relevance for health promotion. We performed a study to address these questions. Our results suggest strong associations between total physical activity and the risk of dying.…

Why Some Employers Are Paying Their Employees to Exercise

This article written by Katie MacAskill was originally published on 31 July 2019 on The Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (SBRN) website. Exercising has been proven over and over again to benefit physical and mental health. In the context of the workplace, countless researchers have seen improvements in employee time management, productivity, focus, personability and more from exercise interventions. As part of their “Power of the Hour” series, a BBC article was published earlier this year on exercise breaks during the workday. The article references a variety of professionals, employers and employees to discuss the values of exercise breaks, noting that some offices even pay their employees to exercise. In recent years, an increasing number of offices are finding and setting up headquarters with a gym or workout studio available in the building. Employees in such offices who make use of these facilities are more productive and tend to leave the office more satisfied with their performance at the end of the day; not to mention the regular benefits that physical activity has on health including immediate cognitive boosts. Setting up big tables and cafes as work spaces in view of treadmills/ellipticals or gym spaces is a new idea companies are…

An Exercise Regimen Everyone Can Squeeze In

The following article was written by Emmanuel Stamatakis and published in The Conversation on the 21st February 2019. Have you recently carried heavy shopping bags up a few flights of stairs? Or run the last 100 metres to the station to catch your train? If you have, you may have unknowingly been doing a style of exercise called high-intensity incidental physical activity. Our paper, published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows this type of regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits, even if you do it in 30-second bursts, spread over the day. In fact, incorporating more high intensity activity into our daily routines – whether that’s by vacuuming the carpet with vigour or walking uphill to buy your lunch – could be the key to helping all of us get some high quality exercise each day. And that includes people who are overweight and unfit. What is high intensity exercise? Until recently, most health authorities prescribed activity lasting for at least ten continuous minutes, although there was no credible scientific evidence behind this. This recommendation was recently refuted by the 2018 US Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Report. The new…

How Age and Prolonged Sitting Can Effect Spine Stiffness, Postures and Discomfort

Recent research by Gruevski K and Callaghan J, and published in Ergonomics on 19th April 2019, looked at the effect of age and sex on passive spine stiffness, postures and discomfort in response to seated work. They noted that understanding age-specific postures and pain development patterns during sitting exposures are particularly relevant given the ageing working population in industrialised nations. Participants were in their Late 20s to early 30s or early 60’s were asked to sit continuously for 90 min while typing. Their results showed that older adults had higher passive spine stiffness and sat with less flexion during prolonged sitting. Discomfort was higher among older adults and occurred earlier in the simulation compared to younger participants, indicating that interventions, such as walking breaks may need to be implemented earlier during sitting for aged workers. Click here to read the full article

Standing Up To Sedentary Working

The following article was written by Sophie O’Connell and published in Occupational Health and Wellbeing on the 7th June 2019. The modern world and the constant pursuit of technological growth have almost eliminated the need for movement in our daily lives. While commuting we sit in our cars or on the bus; at work we sit at our computers or in meetings; during our leisure time we sit watching TV, playing computer games or socialising with friends. Because of technology advancements we do not even need to leave the comfort of our own homes to socialise, stay in touch with friends and family, to shop, to work or even be entertained on a screen. This means that, on average, Brits spend around 9.5 hours a day spent sitting. Typically, the amount of time spent sedentary each day increases with age. In working-age adults much of this sitting is done at work. Evidence shows that office-based workers spend around 75% of their working day sitting, with a third of sitting time being done for a prolonged period. Many of us are guilty of spending time sitting for extended periods due to work, travel or various social commitments. But with the growing…

Americans Are Sitting at Record Rates. Here’s Why That’s So Dangerous

The following article was written by Alice Park and was originally published by Time on April 23, 2019. Every day, we modern humans stay comfortably seated on our behinds for hours at a time: binge watching shows on Netflix, pecking away on keyboards at work, scrolling through social media feeds. But do people really sit more than they used to? That’s what Yin Cao and an international group of colleagues wanted to find out in their latest study published in JAMA. While studies on sitting behavior in specific groups of people — such as children or working adults with desk jobs — have recorded how sedentary people are, there is little data on how drastically sitting habits have changed over time. “We don’t know how these patterns have or have not changed in the past 15 years,” says Cao, as assistant professor in public health sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine. The researchers used data collected from 2001 to 2016 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which asked a representative sample of Americans ages five and older how many hours they spent watching TV or videos daily in the past month, and how many hours they spent…

How Much Do Sedentary People Really Need To Move? It’s Less Than You Think

The following article was originally posted by the Conversation on April 23, 2019 and was written by Emmanuel Stamatakis, Joanne Gale, and Melody Ding. People who spend much of their day sitting may need to move around less than we thought to counteract their sedentary lifestyle, new research shows. Our research, published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found about 20-40 minutes of physical activity a day seems to eliminate most health risks associated with sitting. That’s substantially lower than the one hour a day a previous study has found. We spend almost all our waking day sitting, standing, or moving. The health impact of each one of these can be complex. For example, too much standing can lead to lower back problems and even a higher risk of heart disease. But sitting for too long and not moving enough can harm our health. Then there are people who sit for many hours and also get in reasonable amounts of physical activity. For example, someone who has an office job but walks to and from work for 20 minutes each way and runs two to three times a week easily meets the recommended level of physical activity. While we know moving is better than…

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