Many well meaning, accurate and seemingly sensible solutions to popular or trending issues are difficult, if not impossible, to repeat and sustain over the long haul. Nowhere is this more relevant than with the issue of overcoming our sedentary lifestyle, particularly in our work environment. We need to think past the obvious. Unsustainable recommendations for overcoming "sitting disease" can hamper our personal well-being.
6 Examples of Unsustainable Recommendations:
- Get rid of the chair: Instead of sitting let’s all stand. With a little practice, we could be standing all day.
Standing for extended periods is as bad as sitting for extended periods. "Standing puts greater strain on the circulatory system and on the legs, feet and back," says Alan Hedge, Ph.D., the director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Laboratory at Cornell University.
- Go for a walk every hour: Take a two minute walk around the office every 40-60 minutes
“Walking is good! …but what happens when we take that two minute walk to break up our bouts of sitting at a computer? First of all, we stop (step away from) what we’re doing. We interrupt our concentration. Statistics tell us that, once there is a work interruption, it takes about 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration that we were at prior to the disruption.” Excerpt from April 13 blog “Work Interruptions: Cost and Benefit”
3. Have walking meetings: Instead of sitting in a conference room, walk while you are having your meeting.
“Conference rooms and boardrooms exist so individuals can meet and share ideas verbally without negatively impacting others. So now we 2, 3 or 6 (or more) individuals are to walk throughout the office and bother everyone – or do we remove the conference table and do laps?” Excerpt from April 27 blog “We're All Going to Die – Sit-Stand Desks or Not”
- Use a Treadmill: Once the novelty wears off, you have a higher energy level and you’ll enjoy that good-tired feeling you get knowing you are burning calories while you’re working.
Treadmills take up considerable space and are not easily moved out of the way so the balance between standing/walking and sitting can be achieved. The constant sound of the motor (continuous power consumption) and the thump-thump of walking on the belt can be distracting to others. Writing and mousing accuracy are often difficult. Walking over ground allows you to push away from a stable force, whereas a treadmill does not.
"Treadmills are not the same as walking over ground…The natural way of walking doesn't work on a treadmill belt. The lateral hip and glute muscles aren't used, so you need to use hip flexors instead. It may look the same, but the muscles used to do it have been changed." Katy Bowman, a biomechanics scientist and kinesiologist at the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, Calif
- Sit on an Exercise Ball: An Exercise Ball will strengthen your core muscles and help you to move while at your desk.
Core muscles are strengthened because they are constantly involved in stabilizing your body due to the inherent instability of the exercise ball. In addition, there is no support to your arms (arm rests) and the lower back (lumbar support). Over an extended period, this can cause fatigue resulting in poor posture. Thighs are not evenly supported and knees are often bent to less than 90° contributing to restricted circulation and stress to the lower legs.
- Get a Crank Sit-Stand Desk: Crank Sit-Stand Desks allow you to raise and lower your workstation, they don’t consume electricity and they’re cheaper than electric desks.
At approximately 7 crank rotations per inch, can you imagine how many rotations it would take to raise the desk from a sitting to a standing position? Let’s do the math – from sitting at 27” desk height to standing at 43” desk height (recommended for a person 5’-10” tall with shoes on) equals 16” range of travel. At 7 rotations per inch that’s 7 x 16 = 112 rotations! Crank Sit Stand Desks are NOT designed to promote frequent adjustments throughout the work period. (If you are still determined to go the cheaper route, updowndesks.com sells a Crank Sit Stand desk that is easily upgradable to electric.)
When faced with a problem, many seek a solution. Some first seek to understand the problem.
A sustainable solution: North American made, BIFMA approved Electric Sit Stand Desks