Editor's Note: I need to get moving
In recent years, Safety+Health has covered numerous studies on the adverse health effects of both sitting too long and standing too long at work.
A large portion of the safety pros who read S+H work in the manufacturing sector, where workers stand for extended periods of time. In contrast, office workers like me are parked in front of a computer most of the day. And although I have the freedom to get up when I want to and am fortunate that the ergonomics committee at the National Safety Council provides the tools to keep me from being sedentary (including a sit/stand desk and a desktop-based ergo reminder system), I typically default to sitting.
Anyone who reads about health studies knows how much contradictory information is out there. One study touts the benefits of a certain vitamin or supplement, while another concludes that the same supplement is not beneficial – or can even be harmful. That’s why I watched with interest a recently released video from the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto. The video features two researchers. One found that sitting too long at work can contribute to Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. The other researcher’s work concluded that workers who stand too long have a greater risk of developing heart disease. However, they point out that “we’re not contradicting each other,” and that “the opposite of prolonged sitting is not prolonged standing; the opposite of prolonged sitting is moving.” (Read more about the researchers' findings .)
The researchers don’t provide a magic formula for how much time to stand or sit. The advice they offer, however, is this: “Sit when you need to, stand when you want to, and walk or move when you can.” I need to get moving.