Studies show the relationship between early mortality and sitting for too long, regardless of how much exercise a person does.
Standing has become a very popular way to be more productive and healthy at work. This is reflected in the rising popularity of standing desks. However, for people who are just beginning to stand at their desk, fatigue and boredom can be significant hurdles to overcome.
Below are 8 ways employees can resist the urge to sit back down when standing at work, plus best practices for how often to stand, sit and move throughout the day.
1. Maintain a Proper Posture
Standing properly and maintaining a good posture is key to remaining energized and to receive the positive benefits from standing. Improper or inefficient postures in the long term can damage muscles, spinal discs, joints and ligaments, and result in Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), such as muscle fatigue, low back pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis, tenosynovitis and more.
A Good Standing Posture involves the Following:
Feet are about shoulder width apart
Knees are slightly bent, so that leg muscles support the weight of the torso
Chin is parallel to the floor
Nose is between the toes
Shoulders are even and relaxed
Spine is neutral and straight, with no flexing or arching
Abdominal muscles are engaged
Hips are even
Body weight is evenly distributed between both feet
The American Chiropractic Association states that good posture enables the correct alignment and proper function of the spine, muscles and joints. In other words, if a person is not standing properly they can be on the receiving end of a multitude of health issues over time, such as lower back pain, leg pain and cardiovascular problems.
2. Wear the Right Shoes
Having footwear with proper arch and sole support goes a long way in helping employees stand longer when working at a standing desk, by easing tension on the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Most of the body’s weight should be on the balls of the feet.
A good pair of shoes should maintain the arch of the feet and support the soles. Since foot size and shape varies greatly, each employee should wear shoes that they consider comfortable. Types of recommended shoes include professional clogs, comfortable sneakers, or running shoes with excellent cushioning. Obviously, the type of shoe worn also depends on workplace dress codes.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety suggests using shoe inserts and compression hosiery to counter the adverse effects of standing for long periods of time. Those who simply wish to modify their existing shoes for improved posture can invest in quality comfortable insoles, especially in a professional work environment with strict dress codes. Compression stockings can prevent fluid buildup in the legs that may otherwise lead to varicose veins.
3. Alternate between Sitting, Standing and Walking
There is a great deal of muscle activity in the lower limbs when standing as opposed to sitting. As with most things in life, moderation is key. Standing shouldn’t be the only position when working at a desk. In fact, standing for too long also has its share of negative effects on health.