You’ve landed the office job you have been working towards, congratulations, but now you may be starting to question the health implications that sitting in your office chair all day might have. According to a survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) charity, 45% of women and 37% of men admitted to spending less than 30 minutes a day up on their feet at work. Pairing this with the hour-long commute and the evening spent watching television, you can see how easy it is for office staff to slip into a sedentary lifestyle. One way to help combat this is to incorporate periods of standing and movement throughout your shift.
It used to be believed that the ideal ratio for sitting to standing was 3:1, meaning that within every hour worked, you would have spent 15 minutes up on your feet. Although, according to a more recent study conducted by the University of Waterloo, this has been disproven, and the amount of time you should ideally spend standing is actually significantly higher, with the optimal ratios being anywhere between 1:1 and 1:3.
Now, there are a few factors that may affect which ratio will work best for you, with the most significant one probably being your health and fitness levels. If you are an inactive person, or have a medical condition, you will have to take extra considerations when you first start incorporating periods of standing into your daily routine, especially if you are not used to spending much time on your feet. It may be helpful to consult your doctor just to ensure that you are fit enough to stand periodically at work. Another important factor that could impact the amount of time you aim to stand for is age. As people get older, they begin to lose muscle mass and are more susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders. This is why if you are an older person, you should consider a smaller sitting to standing ratio, such as 3:2.
When starting out, it is vital that you do not go overboard. Rushing into this and attempting to stand for excessive periods of time could be just as damaging as remaining sedentary all day. Even though the goal ratios are between 1:1 and 1:3, if you feel the need to sit down more then you should, as it will take some time to build the strength needed to stand. It is also crucial that you split the time into smaller sessions, to prevent any injury or pain. For example, if you were aiming to stand for 50% of your shift, then you should do 30 minutes every hour, as it is much more attainable and safe. Whilst standing, you should also try and place some focus on maintaining a good posture, to help further minimise the risk of any injuries or aches.
So, what are the benefits of implementing this change in the workplace?
Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been proven to cause serious health issues, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Therefore, one benefit of standing would be a reduced risk of being affected by one of these diseases. 78% of office workers have also been adversely affected by injury as a result of their job, with the most common issues being back and knee pain. A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that sitting and standing while at work reduced back and neck pain by 54% after 4 weeks. A reduction in pain should subsequently cause a fall in work related injuries, meaning that there will be less employee absences.
However, if you do decide to sit for long hours, then it is important to get the best computer chair for long hours to prevent the negative effects of prolonged periods of sitting.
So, all in all, there is no perfect ratio for you to follow. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, and some may find the transition easier than others. The most important thing is that you are standing more and sitting less and that you do it safely.