Could standing desks help you live longer?
Spending excessive amounts of time sat at a desk each day could be linked to obesity-related diseases and reduced life expectancy, according to a group of Australian researchers.
Standing desks could go some way to providing a solution, they found.
Researchers at Deakin University set out to explore the effects of sitting less and standing more among a group of 231 desk-bound workers aged between 24 and 65 in a new study that was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health.
The experiment involved the introduction of sit-stand desks at the workplace, as well as health coaching. By the end of the 12-month study the researchers found that participants were spending on average one hour a day less sitting: five compared to six.
The researchers estimated that if these “interventions” to the working environment were scaled up to benefit 20 per cent of Australia’s office worker population it would cost $185.2 million (£143 million), but would save 7,492 “health adjusted life years” by preventing a range of obesity-related diseases. They added that it could also help to reduce absenteeism and boost productivity in the workplace.
The authors of the study concluded that this was a cost-effective way to improve the health of desk-based employees, which they estimate represents 45 per cent of the Australian working population.
“Workplace sitting is the largest contributor to daily sitting time among office workers, and excessive sitting is associated with serious health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and shorter life expectancy,” lead author Dr Lan Gao is quoted as saying in a release. “This means it’s imperative we work towards both effective and cost-effective ways to decrease sitting time in the workplace.”
“Sit-stand workstations – which allow the user to position the desk at a level convenient for sitting or standing – have been put forward as one possible solution to this issue, however up until now a barrier to their widespread introduction has been the perceived prohibitive cost,” she went on.
Brits are around 20 per cent less active now than in the 1960s. Many adults spend more than seven hours per day sedentary, and this often increases with age.
If you don’t think your employer is likely to be shelling out for fancy new sit-stand desks anytime soon then the research offered some tips to “quit the sit at work.”
Making a few simple changes to your working day like taking a stroll in your coffee and lunch breaks, opting for walking meetings with colleagues, and setting a reminder to stand up and move every hour will all help to boost your activity levels.
The “Stand Up Victoria” trial was funded by VicHealth and the NHMRC, and led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.
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