We all spend way too much time on sitting on our bottoms. As an article in Canadian Living notes, Canadian adults spend most of their waking hours on their bums (or their backs). That’s why the expression sitting disease (which refers directly to the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle) entered our vocabulary—as did the standing desk, one of the most popular ways to combat this widespread public health concern.
Whether you spend your days at a desk, drive long distances or simply enjoy binge-watching series on Netflix, sitting for too long can contribute to a litany of medical issues, including: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature death according to the Mayo Clinic. Sedentary lifestyles affect both adults and children alike.
One of the major culprits here, of course, is the office. A place where many of us inevitably find ourselves plunked in front of a computer screen for most of the day. But what if instead of sitting, you did some of your work standing up?
Enter the sit-stand desk. The sit-stand desk enables someone to either work sitting down, or raise the workspace convenient to work at standing up. These workstations come in myriad shapes and sizes and price points; some even include treadmills, so you can add a little bit of activity to your daytime routine.
The efficacy of standing desks isn’t clear. In March 2016, Cochrane researchers analyzed 20 different studies—with a total of 2174 participants—that looked at various interventions to reduce inactivity in the workplace. Sit-stand desks, they found, decreased sitting by half an hour to two hours per day. However, based on these studies, the researchers couldn’t conclusively say whether or not these desks make a difference in the long run.
While the research is still inconclusive on if these desks lead to a decreased risk of sitting disease these devices do highlight the importance of ensuring you’re out of your seat for part of the day.
Of course, the sit-stand desk is just one intervention, and Athletic Therapist David Adolph argues there are plenty of other ways to get active during the workweek. He suggests squeezing a workout or walk in at your lunch break. At the end of the day, the important thing is to take steps to ensure you are actively combatting ‘sitting disease’.
BHK, DipSIM, CAT (C), CSCS
Dave Adolph is currently Manager of High Performance at Engage Sport North in Prince George, BC. He served as Head Athletic Therapist for the UBC Football Team from 2004-2015, and supported UBC Athletics in winning many National Championships through his AT role and mentorship of varsity student athletic trainers. He was also Head AT for the Canadian Women's National Soccer Team from 2004-2007 and the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2005 & 2006, as well as a Sessional Instructor in the UBC School of Kinesiology from 2004-2015.