In a recent article featured on Officing Today “Can you really work standing up?", author Jo Disney poses an interesting question: would it be healthier to invest in “standing workstations” rather than sitting ones?
Working standing up is not an entirely new concept, but more of a forgotten one that might be ready to make a comeback in today’s working world. The first study on workplace torpidity appeared back in 1953, when a Scottish scientist named Jerry Morris showed that bus conductors, who moved around a lot, had fewer heart attacks than the drivers, who sat all day. Seems like something worth looking into.
There have also always been those who have naturally found a solution to that lack of balance when writing, or working in a way that causes one to be stagnant for long periods of time, such as Ernest Hemmingway and Vladimir Nabokov, who were known for writing standing up.
Our “natural” desire to sit is actually not natural at all. Disney emphasizes this in her article by focusing on exercise scientist Dr. Buckley’s claim that is actually unnatural and unhealthy to sit so much. Even three hours a day would make a huge difference, according to Buckley. The exercise scientist discusses his theory in more detail in the BBC article “Stand up at office to lose weight, says exercise scientist” by Sean Coughlan.
It is a well-known fact that standing burns more calories, so one of the goals of “standing workstations” would be to help workers get healthier. “It could just help office works lose weight and become a little healthier, claims exercise scientist Dr. John Buckley”. Of course finding a way to strike a balance of exercise and productivity will not be an easy thing. Sitting down is a natural part of office work, and is a habit that “can be difficult to break out of” explains Disney, especially when it comes to writing emails, working on the computer, etc. There are activities we almost always associated with sitting at a desk.
“A previous study warned that sedentary lifestyle could be causing as many deaths as smoking” writes Coughlan, in reference to a study on obesity. Even just a few hours a day will drastically improve your health and most likely productivity. It seems that “standing workstations” may be something that would take time to get comfortable with, but once it becomes a part of the normal workday, the payoff is great.
Small steps towards a healthier lifestyle come with big rewards, such as weight loss, better circulation, and an increase in productivity, according to the aforementioned articles. In another article written for the BBC News and Health section, Prof Stuart Biddle, of Loughborough University is mentioned in regards to a study that was done at the University that analyzed 18 existing studies concerning a sedentary lifestyle and the negative affects it can have on the body. "We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviors”, says Professor Biddle.
We at Deskmag looked into the most popular tips for you to keep in mind when staying healthy at work:
Of course... Standing at work. The benefits of having a place to stand, while still getting work done, will greatly pay off in the long run. Just three hours a day can burn up “144 calories which, over time, can amount to a massive 8lb or 3.6kg loss of fat each year” according to Dr. Buckley.
Be sure to stretch. If you are on a roll at work, whether it’s writing, programming, illustrating, none of us have that perfect attention span. It’s good to take a break every 30 minutes, or every hour. Go out for a quick walk. Drink a glass of water and let your mind catch a breather.
Rest your eyes. Sometimes after sitting all day a work, it is surprising to realize how tired you actually are. It’s important to give your eyes a break, especially if you are looking at a monitor all day. In “10 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy at the Office” written for Aviva, it is suggested that you look away from the computer monitor “every 15-30 minutes”.
Watch your posture! We at Deskmag have already talked about the importance of having a good chair. Having a comfortable chair at work, that supports your back, could dramatically change the way you feel at the end of the day.
Look for membership opportunities your coworking space offers. Many coworking spaces have partnerships with organizations nearby, such as gyms, massage or yoga studios. Link Coworking in Austin for instance provides discounts on Yoga classes for their members. If your coworking space doesn't offer such a deal, propose it to your host or operator. Groups and companies, such as coworking spaces with many members, can often make better deals than a single person.