It is now common knowledge that prolonged sitting can cause health problems. The less we sit, the better. So, should we all stand up whilst working?
Compared to sitting, standing up has several advantages. It is recognised that when you work standing up, your blood sugar level drops faster after a meal than if you are sitting. Standing also reduces the risk of back and shoulder complaints. As a result, countless sit-stand tables have made an appearance in Dutch offices. Employers want to reduce the risk of absenteeism due to health problems.
However, research has shown that prolonged standing while working can cause fatigue in the legs and feet, back and neck pain and varicose veins.
In August 2017, a study was published by Oxford University about the relationship between sedentary and standing work and the risk of heart disease. This 12-year study took place in Canada and showed that prolonged standing can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because standing for too long can lead to blood clotting in the legs, increased pressure in the veins and increased oxidative stress (chemical imbalance in the body), which can all contribute to an increased risk. Long-term standing at work doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Reality shows that we often adopt a poor posture when standing. Bad posture (hanging on one hip, leaning on the table, wearing high heels, bent over ...) increases the risk of strain.
For decades, the Dutch Working Conditions Legislation (Arbo) has had regulations in place for the purpose of minimising standing work. The Dutch Labour Information Sheet (08) "Seated and standing work" advises that
standing continuously for longer than 1 hour and standing for more than 4 hours per day should be avoided as much as possible! That sounds strange, doesn’t it?