Are you sitting comfortably? Stand up! The new efficiency: working while standing!
Magazine Contact #28
Movement is a natural human need. However, from a very young age, we are trained to sit still for several hours. For us, it is completely normal to spend eight hours sitting on an office chair. Those of us who prefer to sit down again after work instead of moving around are increasing their risk of health complications.
According to current studies, people sit for an average of 9.3 hours per day. And as we don’t just sit for too long, but also sit in the wrong way as well, this inevitably leads to negative consequences: excessive strain on the spine, tension, pain and in many cases even irreparable permanent pain in the support and musculoskeletal system. In Europe, almost 50 percent of the annual number of sick days are now used in this area (source: a study by the Work Foundation on behalf of the EU).
Frequent changes of position between dynamic sitting and standing have a positive effect on our general wellbeing. Standing activates our back muscles. This relieves the strain on our spine and allows it to relax. Thanks to the upright position, we can breathe more freely and our body is supplied with more oxygen. A lack of oxygen can lead to headaches, difficulties in concentrating and tiredness. This is why working while standing has a very positive effect on productivity, especially during the afternoon slump.
Standing in front of the screen is something we must train ourselves to do – just like sitting quietly when we were children. If you are not used to standing, you can start with short intervals and smaller tasks which can also be completed standing up. Your body will gradually get used to standing and the muscles in the corresponding parts of your body will be strengthened.
Electrically height-adjustable desks are particularly well suited to quick changes of position. The combination of working phases while sitting and standing brings more movement and variation into our everyday life at the office. These intervals correspond to our natural need for movement.
- Ensure there is a soft floor surface and you are wearing comfortable shoes. You might also use an anti-fatigue mat.
- Watch out for your posture. Try to stand up straight. Think about an imaginary string pulling your head towards the ceiling
- Move around. Standing doesn’t mean remaining in position like a Grenadier Guard. Move your weight from leg to leg and stand on your tiptoes. This is how you can loosen your muscles and prevent pain caused by tension.
- Adjust the desk according to your needs. A height-adjustable desk is the easiest to use here. Your arms should lie loosely on the work surface without you having to raise your shoulders. If you have to bend forward or lean back to work in a standing position, the desk is at the wrong height for you.
- Pay attention to how your body feels. As soon as you feel that standing is strenuous, change back into a sitting position. You will gradually be able to extend your standing intervals.
Source: Adapted from Angus McIntyre and Matthew Brauer.