Sitting versus standing


Evidence is growing to show that spending too much sitting increases your risk of diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and early death.

Many people know when they’ve been sitting too long because their back or neck gets sore. But it’s what you can’t feel or see that you may need to be concerned about.

Australian adults now sit for an average of nearly nine hours a day. This is longer than the time that most people spend sleeping!

Canadian researcher Dr Peter Katzmarzyk, found that those who sat almost all of the time had nearly a one-third higher risk of early death than those who stood almost all of the time.

University College London researcher Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis found among women in the United Kingdom: those whose work involved mostly standing/walking about had a 32% lower risk of early death than those who worked in sitting jobs.

However, prolonged standing can also have adverse health effects. Compared to sitting, when we stand, our hearts and circulatory systems work harder to maintain blood flow to the brain, because they are countering the effects of gravity. Standing still for long periods of time can lead to swelling, heaviness or cramping of the legs. The best option is to alternate between sitting and standing.

Alternating between 30 minutes of sitting and standing will increase muscular contractions, stimulating blood flow and resulting in more calories burnt and healthier blood sugar levels.

Research shows task performance such as typing, reading and performing cognitive tests is largely unaffected by standing desks.

Tips to help get you moving:
• take regular breaks during long drives in the car
• stand up on public transport
• choose more active ways to hang out with friends (swap the cafe for a walk)
• stand at the bar instead of sitting on the comfy couches
• have standing meetings (they usually end faster)
• stand up while on the phone.

More information:
> Sitting vs Standing
Review of standing desks
> Standing Desks now in classrooms