In recent years there have been numerous studies made into how sitting, and particularly prolonged sitting, is negatively affecting health in the western world. Studies have linked prolonged sitting to serious conditions including stroke, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
These studies have led to organisations including the NHS, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK to encourage people to move more, to take opportunities to stand up and move around, particularly during times when prolonged sitting is usual –at work or during leisure time.
While it’s not always practical to get up and walk around, particularly at work, there are ways to overcome the dangers of sitting, but it means changing habits – and some furniture!
Standing desks and adjustable or ‘sit to stand’ desks are becoming increasingly popular and are readily available through office furniture suppliers. Some schools in the UK have even introduced them[i], after reports of Scandinavian countries finding them useful for aiding concentration and productivity.
Anecdotal evidence and scientific study does suggest that standing while working can also have a positive effect on concentration[ii] and productivity[iii] in the school and workplace, in addition to improvements to activity levels and a reduction in obesity. It certainly gives us a cause to think about changing the way we work.
What are the barriers?
Obviously changes to the furniture can be a big hurdle, so an adjustable desk, which allows for sit and stand working would be a good first step. Ensuring the monitor and any keyboard or mouse is at a comfortable height is also important.
Initially, standing for long periods can have its own problems. Anecdotal reports of sore feet and aching limbs in the initial period of use are common. It is for this particular issue that AFS-TEX Systems have developed their range of Active Anti-Fatigue Mats. AFS-TEX mats encourage longer standing periods by making the user more comfortable than if they were standing on the floor.
AFS-TEX also has an anti-microbial ingredient built in to the mat, so this makes it perfect to use without shoes, as the surface of the mat is protected from microbial deterioration.
Sit-to-stand desk users should try to increase their standing time every day, so that eventually the majority of their working day is spent standing. The AFS-TEX Active Anti Fatigue range can help make this step easier and more comfortable.
Once you’re standing, move more.
Keeping your feet moving will burn more calories, keep your circulation going and increase comfort when standing for longer periods. Much of the AFS-TEX range has features to encourage you to move more, whether this is the visual cues on the AFS-TEX System 2000, or the raised areas - the ‘massage pods’ and ‘ergo-bar’ - on the System 5000. These features have been ergonomically developed to encourage regular movement so that you can get the most out of standing.
The AFS-TEX System 5000 S2S is a combination of Anti-Fatigue mat and a premium chair mat, with an easy-glide surface to reduce leg strain when sitting at the desk. This can be a great combination of ergonomic office products for those who find it more practical to work in a combined Sit-To-Stand (S2S) environment.
Standing, and moving regularly, rather than sitting for prolonged periods can
Reduce your chances of suffering from a stroke, diabetes, heart conditions and some cancers.
Increase concentration levels at school and work.
Reduce obesity levels
Improve physical fitness and mental wellbeing.
If you're sitting - stand - and if you're standing - move around!
[i]The Times - Standing desks help pupils to find their feet
[ii] Texas A&M University. "We think better on our feet, literally." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150424121118.htm
[iii] Texas A&M University. "Boosting productivity at work may be simple: Stand up: Research shows 46 percent increase in workplace productivity with use of standing desks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160525220539.htm>.