If you read the health news, you’ll know that scientists have concluded that too much sitting is deadly. We sit more than ever today, and our sedentary lifestyles are doing our health no favors.
Prolonged sitting, particularly at work, contributes to the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, stroke risk and overall death risk, among many other problems. Those who sit all or most of the day also have lower life expectancies, slower metabolisms and tend to be more overweight than those who limit sitting.
Prolonged sitting has been shown to disrupt metabolic function resulting in increased plasma triglyceride levels, decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and decreased insulin sensitivity," Dr. Hidde van der Ploeg, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health in Australia, told TIME's Healthland.
If you’re at risk, it’s likely you already know who you are. Most office workers sit a great deal, and some sit more than others. Call center agents, who spend nearly the entire day seated, are at higher risk than others.
Harvard Business Review’s Susy Jackson recently embarked on an in-office experiment to see if the problem of too much sitting in an office could be alleviated. She wore the Fitbit Ultra tracker, which was designed to measure daily activity such as steps, distance, calories burned and stairs climbed throughout the day. Jackson reports that she spent two weeks each sitting in a chair, sitting on an exercise ball, and using a standing desk, keeping track of steps per day in the office to see if one configuration made her more active than another.
While her results were largely inconclusive, there is some evidence from her (and others) that spending some time standing during the workday can be beneficial for the health (and the waistline). The good news for call center workers is that there are call center furniture manufacturers who understand this and have tailored their furniture lines to allow desks to be adjusted to standing height, allowing workers to spend at least a part of their day in a standing position.
Call center furniture company Interior Concepts offers what it calls “sit-to-stand” workstations that provide the ability to frequently change positions and help to improve not only computer-related repetitive stress injuries but also overall health. By allowing workers to adjust their furniture to different positions, these employees can continue to move their bodies and their muscles throughout the day, reducing strain and increasing blood flow, helping eliminate some of the risks that come along with a fixed sitting position all day long.
As employees become more health conscious, it’s even more important that employers offer options that can help maintain health and prevent the ill effects of sedentary work habits, while at the same time eliminating the possibility of repetitive motion injuries.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli