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Standing desks, sedentary behaviour, and the need for motion

December 19th, 2011

My Jockology column in this week’s Globe and Mail takes a look at the surge of interest in standing desks:

Now that we’ve accepted the surprising truth about sedentary behaviour – that sitting at a desk all day wreaks havoc on your health, no matter how much you exercise before or after work – the standing desk is having a moment. Desk jockeys everywhere are rising up.

The cashiers of the world, meanwhile, must be scratching their heads.

“Ask anyone who works in a shop whether they feel good standing all day, or whether they need to periodically sit,” says Alan Hedge, who directs the Human Factors and Ergonomics program at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Indeed, prolonged standing has been linked to a long list of health problems over the years: most commonly varicose veins, but also night cramps, clogged arteries, back pain and even (according to one study) “spontaneous abortions” – enough to make you think twice before throwing away your chair. But striking the right balance in your cubicle isn’t necessarily about the furniture, researchers say – it’s about how you use it… [READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE]

 

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  1. December 22nd, 2011 at 19:11 | #1

    These “standing desks” are a new fitness fad in the making. As you rightfully point out, standing the entire day is *not* healthy.

    In my opinion, this is another case of overly simplifying matters: People get fat and unhealthy because they sit all days, therefore they should be standing.

    How about sitting and occasionally getting up? This Australian study found that office workers who here and then got up for a minute or two (walking over to a colleague instead of phoning, using the stairs instead of the elevator etc.) were in a good bit better shape than those sitting the entire day:

    http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/01/08/eurheartj.ehq451.abstract

  1. January 19th, 2012 at 18:52 | #1