Did you know that alternating between sitting and standing at work may reduce body aches, back pain and fatigue?

A new Australian study confirmed that taking regular ‘standing breaks’ throughout the day lead to improvements in musculoskeletal pain and less fatigue.

The study group comprised mostly middle aged men and women who were either overweight or obese.  They were each assigned an adjustable height workstation to allow them to stand every 30 minutes throughout the day.

They were divided into two groups, one sat while working over the course of an eight-hour day and the other alternated every 30 minutes between sitting and standing. The two groups swopped over during the second week.

They were then required to fill out a questionnaire recording their fatigue levels, musculoskeletal discomfort, feelings about their own productivity and how well they liked the adjustable workstation.

Overall the participants experienced reduce fatigue and less musculoskeletal pain in the lower back, ankles and feet.

Although this was a small study, researchers believe that it flags up important information about sedentary lifestyles. Past research has shown that office works spend 75% of their work day sitting down.

The study specifically chose overweight or obese participants because they were looking at risk factors for diabetes and heart disease and whether sitting for long periods increased the risk factor for these conditions.

Alicia Thorp who lead the research said ‘The message for sedentary workers should be to alternate regularly between sitting and standing across the work day for health’.

Whilst standing for very long periods can put a strain on the musculoskeletal system, the message appears to be that alternating periods of standing with sitting is beneficial but moving around is even better.

Office works should be encouraged to move around their office space when possible, standing up to take phone calls, using stairs rather than lifts and avoiding sitting at their desk to eat.

Stretching exercises throughout the day can enhance well being and reduce aches and stiffness associated with long periods of sitting.

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