Blog - Stand, sit or just keep moving?

Woman standing on a Steppie board at standing desk

The Steppie Board

There is a lot of media hype about sit stand desks currently and I am regularly asked by my clients whether or not to invest in one. I’ve used a sit stand desk myself for 2 ½ years, and love it, but could it really just be a fad as some people suggest?

I was at an International Human Factors and Ergonomics Congress in Melbourne a few weeks ago and there were some very interesting statistics coming out about this situation.  It turns out that people definitely do stand more (10%) and reduce their sitting by 14%, but may not actually walk more (only about 2% more walking).

One very pleasing statistic though was that 26% of those in the study  did report a reduction in low back pain: this was a great result as low back pain is one of the most commonly reported problems in offices.

Make sure you move

Some clients I’ve seen have built themselves a standing (non adjustable) workstation. While this is potentially a healthy solution, static standing – as I have found to my own cost – can be not much better than static sitting. Standing with locked knees can increase mid and upper back muscle tension, and still cause some   so make sure you change positions regularly by sitting for some of the time or walking away from your desk.

I did come across an interesting sideways ‘wobble board’ called a Steppie at the conference. Designed in Denmark, The Steppie allows you to move more when you are standing at your desk. I had written about a similar board recently, but the Steppie seems to be a bit more competitively priced, so I’m keen to try one out myself and will let you know my thoughts on this.

Then move some more

To avoid getting this increase in back tension, just keep thinking about moving more during your day. I’ve realised that it’s all about changing work habits, whether you’re sitting or standing. So, just like me still standing for long periods, I’ve now worked out I’ve got to try and move away more regularly (think about getting that glass of water once an hour).

Changing behaviour is one of the biggest challenges we all face and even though it can be challenging… think of the consequences of not changing that behaviour. Sedentary working is dangerous.

That’s all good for your body. What about your mind?

Also at the conference, on the theme of keeping ourselves fitter I heard about 5 rules for Peak Brain Performance from Dr Grant Schofield at the Workplace Wellness Symposium I recently attended in Auckland:

  • Move it – when you move the brain secretes reactors which keep you healthy
  • Feed it – good food and water all help to keep your brain active
  • Rest it – get good sleep
  • Do important things – get things done that need to be done, then your brain and you can relax, rather than getting stressed. Plan to get things done to keep you mentally healthy.
  • Excite it – look at doing things you enjoy and engage in doing things that really matter to you (time out, taking a walk, doing an activity you really love, these all feed relaxing endorphins into your brain, keeping it relaxed)
Keeping your outlook fresh helps keep you well

There are a lot of similarities to the Five Ways to Wellbeing we have become familiar with in Christchurch (put together by the Mental Health Foundation following the Christchurch Earthquakes).

The 5 areas are:

  • Give – your time, words, presence
  • Be Active –  do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
  • Keep learning – embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
  • Connect – talk and listen, be there, feel connected
  • Take notice – remember the simple things that give you joy

What could be better than looking after not only your body but also your brain?

So go on. Get out there and enjoy connecting as spring comes along!