Stand-up desk, miracle solution ?

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As you may heard already, sitting is now considered the new smoking, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.

Health guidelines suggest we should spend 150 minutes a week in moderate exercise, but many of us sit down for more than half the working day. With email nowadays, you don’t even have to get off your chair to speak to anyone!

“As for a stand-up desk, the research so far is inconclusive. The benefits may be more myth than reality. A systematic review by Cochrane researchers found that sit-stand desks reduced sitting by between 30 minutes and two hours a day. While this sounds impressive, the researchers say the studies mostly did not deliver the up-to-four-hours of standing that experts recommend. Standing desks were also not found to have much benefit in weight reduction – if an average-sized man and woman spent half of their eight-hour working day standing, they would spend an additional 20 kilocalories and 12 kilocalories each. This, point out the researchers, is not enough to prevent obesity or type 2 diabetes. Prolonged standing may also be difficult for people with low back pain.”

So, while the benefits of standing desks may be overstated, the risks of sitting are not. There's no doubt that sitting too much is very bad for your health. However, that certainly does not mean you should stand all day instead.

Studies have found strong associations between lower back pain and standing occupations, such as bank tellers and production line employees. Standing still for long periods is also thought to negatively affect your leg muscles, tendons and other connective tissue, and may even cause varicose veins

Sit/Stand ratio:

The research is still in its early stages, but a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 sitting versus standing time appears to be optimal for comfort and energy levels, without affecting productivity. It is also recommended not to sit more than 1 hour.

For 1:1 ratio: Sit for 60 min and stand for 60 min

For 2:1 ratio: Sit for 60 min and stand for 30 min

Other ratio are also acceptable but you should never stand more than 2 hours in a row. See the table below for examples:

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Work station adjustment:

Ensure your desk and screen are well adjusted to prevent risk of injuries. They are still many ways to cheat even with the best equipment.

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Other tips to help maximise your set-up:

-Usage of an anti-fatigue mat can improve blood flow and reduce overall discomfort of the lower limb by encouraging slight movement of your leg muscles during the day.

-Make sure your keyboard and mouse are positioned properly. The wrist should be straight (aligned with the elbow) and slightly extended while using the equipment.

-Using arm support can help minimise neck and shoulder issues while taking pressure off the wrist while using the mouse.

-Make sure to take breaks, if you can’t remember yourself as you get too absorbed by your work, you can install a reminder/alarm on your computer to help you out. A break every 20 min to rest your eyes and walk around is optimal, but every hour is still acceptable.

If you don’t have the luxury to have a stand-up desk at work, remember you can take walking breaks throughout the day and use the stairs, whatever desk you have.