Worker health and wellness

No ‘definitive answer’ on how much to sit, stand at work: experts

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Photo: Mark Bowden/iStockphoto

Atlanta – Sedentary work can be detrimental to health, but no conclusion can be reached on how many hours per day a worker should sit or stand, experts said July 13 during a NIOSH Total Worker Health webinar.

Research has linked sedentary behavior to conditions such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. Although webinar presenters agreed that exercising for 30 minutes daily is not enough to combat the ill effects of sedentary behavior, Nathan Fethke, associate professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, stated that “I don’t think there’s a definite answer” for how long a worker should sit or stand. “You see lots of different recommendations, from getting up and moving around two minutes every hour to … suggesting you need two hours of standing time per day,” Fethke said. 

Recent research from the University Centre Shrewsbury and the University of Chester recommended office workers stand daily for at least two hours and eventually increase that to four hours to combat ill effects of lengthy sitting.

Taking breaks and using sit-stand and treadmill workstations can break up prolonged sitting. Using sit-stand workstations may lower musculoskeletal discomfort and possibly improve “cardiometabolic outcomes,” Fethke said during the webinar.