Science can be confusing sometimes. One study will claim you should do X, and then another study comes out denouncing X as the worst possible thing you can do!
In time, however, research offers new information and clarifies/reconciles seemingly contradictory ideas.
It’s all part of the scientific method, right? People make observations, propose hypotheses, test them, etc. Then, other scientists test the new results, seeking to reveal and refine the information.
Well, once again, the process is at work, but for now, the scientific community is sending mixed signals.
Many studies have come out that tell us not to sit too long. Many Americans lead sedentary lifestyles, and we need to be up and moving. Yes! We all agree with that, right? Right.
The American Medical Association even adopted policies that encourage standing at work:
Health Risks of Sitting
Today, the AMA adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as standing work stations and isometric balls.
“Prolonged sitting, particularly in work settings, can cause health problems and encouraging workplaces to offer employees alternatives to sitting all day will help to create a healthier workforce,” said Dr. Harris.
People sit on isometric balls, stand at desks, and/or walk at their desks.
Feet First even has a guide to conducting a walking meeting. These are good things.
Ergotron conducted a study in 2013 that found Americans sit 13 hours per day.
[quote]In total, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day. While Americans know about the importance of exercise, only 31 percent go to the gym, and 56 percent devote less than $10 per month to staying active. However, 96 percent would be willing to stand more to improve their health or life expectancy, and 30 percent even responded that they would rather go without coffee for a week to stand.[/quote]
So let’s get up and be active! Go walk during lunch, jog in the morning, find some way to be physically active. It’s good for your joints.
But now, a new study is suggesting that people shouldn’t stand at work all day either.
Researchers pointed out that “Nearly half of all workers worldwide have to stand for more than three quarters of their working day,” which can lead to its own set of issues like exhaustion, muscle fatigue, and eventually back pain.
The study found subjects had long-term fatigue after 5-hour simulated work days, and the effects indiscriminately affected younger and older participants.
Researchers pointed out that long-term fatigue can cause joint problems and–as mentioned before–back pain.
Ideally, workers should have the opportunity to sit or stand, depending on their needs at the time.
If you sit all day, make sure to get up and walk around.
If you stand all day, try to find an opportunity to sit and work for a bit as well.