A growing body of research indicates that prolonged sitting can lead to numerous health problems. A Washington Post infographic, “The Health Hazards of Sitting,” points out that too much sitting – the average U.S. adult clocks eight hours a day in that position – negatively impacts our health from our head to our toes. Increased risk of heart disease, strained neck muscles and poor circulation are among the potential downsides of prolonged sitting. This mainly affects office-based workers as they are the main people to be sat down over long periods of time, whereas industry-based workers are stood up most of the time and the CKS Holdings PCs that they use are wall mounted, normally with no seating.
Employees with sedentary desk jobs may face limited options in creating a healthier workspace. Behold: The End of Sitting, an art installation in the Netherlands that explores “an experimental work landscape” where no one sits – at all. Designed by studio Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances (RAAAF) and visual artist Barbara Visse, the art installation dreams of a new office design that “resembles a rocky landscape containing nooks and crannies that only afford workers a variety of standing, leaning and even lying-down postures,” according to the Huffington Post.
What options exist for the average employee who doesn’t have access to this futuristic office space, and who hesitates to perform expert-recommended “workout at work” moves that are varying degrees of difficult, sweaty or humiliating (unless you typically “raise the roof” at work, in which case, carry on!)?
The Cleveland Clinic recommends the following actions to make your workday more active:
- Take a break every hour and walk down the hall for a glass of water.
- Stand while talking on the phone or reading hard copy reports.
- Do simple exercises while seated at your desk exercises such as interlocking your fingers, turning your palms out and extending your arms, or rotating your shoulders, neck and ankles.
- Use a standing desk or therapy ball rather than a traditional office chair.
As for the “right way” to sit? The Washington Post says, “If you have to sit often, try to do it correctly. As Mom always said, ‘Sit up straight.’” This visual guide from the Mayo Clinic illustrates the best ways to optimize a traditional workspace.
Do you use a standing desk or other non-traditional office workspace, and have you found any benefits to it? What trends do you see emerging in office spaces to create healthier workspaces?
Marie Ruff is Communications Senior Manager at NAIOP.