Businesses, employers and employees are becoming increasingly aware of how much health benefits a business’ productivity. And with good productivity come good results.
But what is one of the easiest ways to create a healthy environment within an office space, which will have fundamental impacts?
There is certain equipment worth investing in such as an electric standing desk and an ergonomic office chair, which reduce the risks of sitting diseases. Namely, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and lethargy are the main consequences of an eight-hour workday sitting at the desk.
If small changes are implemented, so that sitting hours are reduced, businesses can almost eliminate the above-mentioned health implications.
As a result, workers will be healthier to work, more energetic, and have improved efficiency and productivity. At the end of the day, businesses can only benefit.
So how can health at the office be optimised? The sitting to standing ratio
Aside from all the equipment one can buy, a really easy way to drastically improve health is to follow the best sitting to standing ratio. What is it?
A study from the University of Waterloo concludes that the ideal ratio is 3:1, meaning for every hour you sit down, spend 3 hours standing up. Or, stand for 45 minutes at a time and sit down for 15 minutes. However, other studies recommend the opposite: a 1:3 ratio.
What is important to point out is that sitting is not an evil harbinger of all health risks.
Too much of one thing is never good
More recent studies suggest that standing for too long is not good either because that can tire people out or create body aches. For in both standing and sitting, the right posture is critical.
Our health is compromised when we sit down or stand up too much and are in the wrong position as well.
Indeed, the best position is a straight neck and back, both feet flat on the ground, and the hips parallel to the knees.
When sitting down, ergonomic chairs can support this posture, whereas no clever engineering can force this position into place when standing up.
Newer findings urge people not to stand up longer than 1.5 hours min at a time and not to sit longer than 30 min at a time.
On the one hand, we all want to cock up our hips to one side and lean on our elbows to support ourselves from standing up too much. In this case, it is always better to just simply sit down.
On the other hand, most of us also tend to feel pressure in our hips or knees after sitting down too much. Standing up will also offer a reprieve from this.
This way the body doesn’t grow tired from standing up in one position and pressure points get relief after sitting down.
The health benefits of the ratio
According to ergonomist Richard W. Bunch, PhD, people under the age of 40 conform to a 1:1 ratio, whereas people over the age of 40 should follow a 3:2 sitting to standing ratio.
In essence, the older we get the less we should sit all day. The reason behind this is that in age our bones and joints need more stimulation to be maintained strongly.
In reality, the health benefits and the ideal sitting to standing ratio also depends on people’s individual fitness level. The fitter, the longer they can stand at a time.
Similarly, at the gym beginners should not start with heavy weights right from the beginning. The same thing applies to incorporating more standing into your work routine.
If the individually-variant ratio and the correct posture are taken into consideration, the health benefits of following this are numerous.
Ideally, the sitting to standing ratio relieves pressure points like hips, improves posture and back pain, provides lasting comfort, increases productivity, and even speeds up the metabolism.
Implement these changes slowly, and most importantly, focus on moving more rather than just standing.
Regular exercise and general movement during daily chores is the backbone of a good sitting to standing ratio.
Also, you don’t need to transition frequently, which in an office environment is impossible anyways. It is actually better to transition less.
Instead, incorporate walking to and from the office, take meetings on a coffee to go, and pace around your office while on the phone.
Finally, sit down when you need to!