Time to stand-up!

Sitting is the new smoking and will ultimately make you sick.

With health and wellbeing increasingly at the heart of companies’ strategies to both control costs and increase performance, a new book, Deskbound, reveals how it all starts with office desks.

If you are bound to a desk for 8-10 hours a day, you are vulnerable to sedentarism costs (from diabetes to cancer and depression) even if you are a sport enthusiast and exercise regularly. 

Deskbound authors (Kelly Starrett, therapist of world-class athletes and author of best-seller “Becoming  a supple leopard” & cult MobilityWOD videos, Juliet Starrett and Glen Cordoza) apply to our desk their outstanding expertise on mobility and body maintenance.

They talk to us about how we can turn the office space in an opportunity to ensure a healthier workplace. What is the impact of their work on your corporate health plan?

Fitness is not enough, to start with. “It is not only about moving at the gym, but also about our lives outside the gym, the remaining 23 hours of the day. Of course we need to exercise, but we also need to ensure all our movements are well performed and to correct bad posture before pain and stiffness kick in.”

An increasing amount of research proves how sitting is putting employees at health risk and endangering their productivity. What are the consequences of sitting too much?

“The list is too long to describe them fully. The ones most commonly experienced are related to the rounded spine posture, with our back rounded forward and our lower body completely switched off for hours” (the book suggests you try to squeeze your glutes while sitting to quickly grasp how impaired your lower body is). “This results in loss of normal range of motion, aches such as low back pain, jaw pain, headaches, etc, as well as difficult breathing mechanisms (due to compromised diagram functions) and numbness.”

We knew since ancient times that movement contributes to sharpening thinking skills and to optimal cognitive functions.

“Changing sitting habits has a huge potential for employers not only to reduce their health costs, but also to improve their bottom line through enhanced productivity.

A research published by Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health analyses the impact of sitting in a call center. The environment was selected to easily measure the outcome: you either close the deal or you don’t. Half of employees were sitting and half were at standing desk. Well, the success rate was significantly higher for standing employees!”

How can we survive our chair?

"Basic recommendations include avoiding “optional sitting” in our leisure time and moving at least 2 minutes every 30 minutes we spend at the desk."

(Deskbound illustrates those principles and goes on with detailed guidance on how to develop better position and mechanics, and hack your body to optimal performance).

“It is about mobilisation, getting your employees up and moving as much as possible. They will be sharper and more awake. A friend of ours adopted a policy in his advertising firm to encourage employees avoid sending internal emails, stand up and go to talk to their fellow employees”.

Another option for employers advocated by the authors is to switch to standing desks:

“Changing furniture is a one-time fixed cost that can have a huge and long term impact on employees’ wellbeing.

It is important to set up the desks correctly and to use them gradually. Start working on your feet for a couple of hours a day till you are comfortable enough to stand all day at work.

This single piece of furniture encourages movement throughout the day. And you can burn up to 90 thousands calories more per year with no dietary changes or additional exercise…”