According to a Pennington Biomedical Research Center study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, sitting as little as 4 hours at a time during the workday is bad for your health. Deskbound 9-to-5ers face health risks such as high HDL cholesterol levels, adverse body mass index levels and increased waist circumference, just to name a few. Sitting has become a hot topic lately, says Amanda Staiano, an author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at Pennington. “It’s really started blowing up in the literature in the past couple of decades. But this is one of the first papers to come out to show that not only are people sitting a lot, but people who sit a lot have worse health profiles,” he said.
Even physically active participants of the study were adversely affected by extended sitting time. Office furniture is now being designed to overcome some of these health risks and scientists have suggested some modifications to how people do their jobs. Staiano says, “Some scientists will have people stand every 15 or 30 minutes and try to walk around the office, go pick up paper from the printer, or go visit a colleague to try to interrupt the sitting. Other offices are starting to use walking or standing desks. We don’t know whether those are effective or appealing to employers, but it definitely seems to be becoming popular.”
Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, designs chairs and desks that allow sedentary workers more mobility and flexibility. Their new Gesture chair adjusts to nine different postures of sitting that vary according to different tasks and type of office equipment being used. Workers can change position with the push of a button. Steelcase also has recently introduced their Steelcase Walkstations, which are workstations that are also treadmills.
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