Friday, June 12, 2015

URGENT ALERT: stand up more at work!

Well, "URGENT ALERT!" may seem a bit hyperbolic, given that the recent recommendation to stand at least 2 hours a day at work has been widely reported.  And, those of you who have jobs that require being upright most of the day need read no further.

But the adverse health implications  - especially for cardiovascular health- of staying seated all day are pretty clear, so those of us who are still desk-bound need a wake up call.   

I know I did.  

If you are unfamiliar with the problems, get a quick overview here, at, where the the problem is referred to as "sitting disease."  Whew!

Here is my emergency substitute for a stand up desk.  The screen is tilted up, and the "stands" for the keyboard and mouse are crafted from stacks of books I am not reading:

The challenge is to figure out how to fit "standing and light walking" into a heavily scheduled office day.

First, the evidence:

Here are two key excerpts from the abstract:

"The set of recommendations was developed from the totality of the current evidence, including long-term epidemiological studies and interventional studies of getting workers to stand and/or move more frequently. The evidence was ranked in quality using the four levels of the American College of Sports Medicine."

"The derived guidance is as follows: for those occupations which are predominantly desk based, workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 h/day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 h/day (prorated to part-time hours)."

Here are ideas for standing and walking gleaned from a quick web search:

wikiHow has a great article summarizing a number of easy strategies, including   
  • take phone calls standing up
  • set an alarm to remind you to stand or walk, and/a timer to keep you up long enough
  • use a standing desk
  • look for opportunities for short walks in between appointments
And here is another great post from Fast Company, which describes using the goal of standing up every 20 minutes.

One fancy option, the treadmill desk, might not be so great.  

A recent small study (here is a press report, and the paper) found that subjects engaged in either typing or thinking did not do those activities proficiently on the device.  Most of us are doing one of these two things most of the day, so probably best to save your money!