If you spend most of your day commuting to the office and sitting at your desk, a fast, easy way to start your new year off healthier is to do some of your desk work standing up.
Sitting a little less each day can reap big health benefits
Sitting too much at work has become so detrimental to our health that in their annual meeting in 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) formally recommended employers adopt solutions for their employees to help them stand up and move around more at the office.1
Backed by an easy-to-replicate study
In a recent study,2 participants were able to significantly reduce back and neck pain and improve their mood by sitting just 66 minutes fewer each day.
- For further discussion about mood and chronic pain read Depression and Chronic Back Pain
As the buzz over sitting too much continues to build, maybe it’s time to devise a way you can get more standing time in your day.
- Tight hamstrings can also contribute to low back pain. See Hamstring Exercises for Low Back Pain Relief Video
Participants in the study were sedentary office workers of average health, height, and weight. Researchers provided them with a device that allowed them to sit or stand at their desks throughout the day during the 7 week duration of the study. They were given free choice to sit or stand as much—or as little—as they felt comfortable. The group ended up sitting around one hour less each day—enough to realize statistically significant health benefits.
The necessary equipment is easy to find; a quick online search will give you hundreds of ideas for sit-to-stand devices for your desk.
Decrease in back and neck pain
In that relatively short period of 7 weeks, the office workers reported a statistically significant reduction in upper back and neck pain. They also reported feeling generally more comfortable, experiencing less low back pain and less wrist pain.
Increase in emotional well being
Study participants reported decreased fatigue, tension, confusion, and depression—all gained by decreasing their sitting time by 66 minutes per day.
Specifically, 87% reported feeling more comfortable and more energized when they were alternating between standing and sitting. Additionally,
- 75% felt healthier
- 71% felt more focused
- 66% felt more productive
- 62% felt happier
- 33% felt less stressed.
Toward the end of the study, the office workers’ sit-to-stand desks were removed, and their moods and pain levels went back to baseline.
In the developed world, our lifestyles are becoming increasingly sedentary. It is encouraging to know that sitting just an hour less a day can help reduce our neck and back pain and boost our mood. This may be the easiest healthy living suggestion ever. How will sitting less help you?
- AMA Adopts New Policies on Second Day of Voting at Annual Meeting. Available at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2013/2013-06-18-new-ama-polici.... Accessed 12/13/14
- Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR, "Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project," 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110323