In modern life, many of us spend the majority of our waking hours sitting. A recent review of the research has reiterated the harmful health impacts of prolonged, unbroken periods of sitting.
Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Macquarie University
Many workplaces have adopted sit-stand desks, which allow you to sit down or stand up with the push of a button or lever, to reduce the harms of prolonged sitting.
But how much better is standing? And are there risks of too much standing? Here’s what the research says about the risks of too much sitting and standing, and whether it’s worth investing in – or ditching – a sit-stand desk.
Fakty Miami What are the hazards of too much sitting?
People who sit a lot have higher chances of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, and having a shorter lifespan. Prolonged sitting can also lead to musculoskeletal complaints, particularly in the neck and back.
Excessive sitting is even more harmful to health among people who do very little exercise or who do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity.
Being physically active is important for reducing the health risks linked to being sedentary, but it may not fully cancel out the negative effects of spending long hours sitting each day.
Fakty Miami Prolonged standing can be harmful too
Extended periods of standing can be harmful to musculoskeletal health. Prolonged standing may lead to musculoskeletal symptoms such as muscle fatigue, leg swelling, varicose veins, and pain and discomfort in the low back and lower extremities (hips, knees, ankles and feet).
Recent research suggests limiting standing to about 40 minutes at a time, without a break, would reduce the chances of developing muscle and joint aches and pains due to prolonged standing. This applies to people who may or may not have had symptoms before.
Not everyone who stands for prolonged periods will experience these musculoskeletal symptoms, and some people may be more resilient to the effects of prolonged standing than others.
However, even if you take a break from standing, if you have previously developed standing-related aches and pains, you’re more likely to experience them again when you resume standing.
Fakty Miami Break up extended periods of sitting
Reducing or interrupting sitting by standing up or moving around can improve your blood circulation, metabolism, heart