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Cornell University Research on Sitting vs. Standing

Cornell University Research on Sitting vs. Standing

Standing all day at work has long been known to increase the load on the circulatory system, produce varicose veins and create discomfort in the lower limbs. More recently, the negative effects of sitting are receiving attention, including studies on foot swelling, spinal shrinkage, increased heart disease risks and the depositing of fats in tissue rather than those fats being burned off. How do we solve this riddle? Where’s the balance?

In industries where workers stand all day they are provided with ergonomic anti-fatigue mats, anti-fatigue footwear and insoles, and stools to rest on. In office environments where employees primarily sit, they are provided with ergonomic lumbar-support cushions and chairs, ergonomic mice, keyboards and keyboard trays, and standing desks, and are encouraged to take movement-based microbreaks and engage in periodic stretching. But did you know that even with a standing desk that overuse can lead to carpal-tunnel syndrome when the employee gets tired and begins to lean onto their wrist for support?

The solution lies in variety of movement and proper ergonomic training, according to Professor Alan Hedge of Cornell University. General research has shown that sitting alone results in the greatest upper limb discomfort, and standing results in the greatest lower limb discomfort. Research at United Parcel Service (UPS) showed that employees who normally sit at desks all day had a decrease in body part discomfort, injuries and illnesses if they spent part of their day standing at a sit-stand workstation. They also felt more energetic and less tired by the end of the day.

Professor Hedge outlines the following for variety of movement:

- 20 minutes sitting
- 8 minutes standing at a standing workstation
- 2 minutes of standing and moving (gentle stretching, walking, etc.)

Use this information as a guideline to be more active, comfortable, healthy and productive.