Credit: Ramsey Beyer

Offices workers 'should stand for four hours a day'

A new review of evidence says desk-bound workers should get on their feet.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2015

Standing up in the office is increasingly becoming A Thing, with on-your feet meetings held up as a way to cut down on pointlessly long discussions, the British Heart Foundation calling for workers to ‘stand up to heart disease’ (groan) and office design company Peldon Rose including ‘sit-stand’ desks on a list of ways the workplace can ‘boost creativity’ on MT only this morning.

And it seems it’s not just a Scandinavian fad. Desk-bound workers should be spending at least two hours of the working day on their feet, and ideally four, according to a review of existing evidence in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Office workers spend 65-75% of their working day in a chair, more than half of which is built up in long periods sitting, the study, commissioned by Public Health England and Active Working said. That puts them at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and possibly even premature death.

Our northern neighbours are, as with many things, well ahead of us on this one. Both Swedish and Danish workers now have a right to flexible sit-stand desks. And a whopping 90% of Scandinavians now have access to one, according to the Furniture Industry Research Assocation, compared to a mere 1% of Brits.

‘It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you are on your feet for longer,’ Dr John Buckley, a professor at the University of Chester and one of the study’s authors told the Telegraph. ‘Take a walk at lunch and eat away from your desk. Go and meet people at their desk rather than sending an email. Employers should make sure bins aren’t by desks, and are instead in a central space. If you find multiple ways of standing for longer, that can accumulate.’

We shouldn’t stay on our feet in one place for too long though – move around or take a seat if your legs start aching, the authors advised. They also cautioned that ‘longer term intervention studies’ are needed to back up their conclusions. But with worker ‘wellness’ an increasing part of employers’ agenda, you can probably expect more on the move meetings and the coffee machine being moved further away from your desk.

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