Standing is the new sitting don’t you know

Modern working habits are changing. Flexible and home working are becoming more prevalent (something we encourage at Babel) and laws around paternity leave have recently altered – these are just are few of the issues that are helping to keep modern working and employment in the news. However, one story in particular caught my eye. Public Health England published a study suggesting that office workers should be spending a minimum of two to four hours on their feet a day to avoid ill health effects.

While in PR we certainly have to get out and about beyond the office environment as part of our jobs, it’s true that at Babel we too probably spend far too long sitting down. Get Britain Standing estimates that British people sit on average for 8.9 hours a day – give or take an hour, that’s probably what we do.

As someone who is attempting to try and take their health seriously as of recent (I invested in a Jawbone fitness band at the beginning of the year) I’ve become very conscious of the sedentary working day and try to move around as much as possible. I don’t like to go longer than an hour without at least standing or walking a few steps. I’m not sure how I feel about the suggestion of standing four hours a day – a writer at The Guardian tried out it out and found it to be a challenge.

The study did get me thinking though – what are some of practices workers around the world are undertaking in order to look after their health during the working day?

The standing meeting – A concept that is becoming more prevalent in companies – researchers at Washington University in Missouri found that groups who conducted meetings standing up were more engaged. Other research has found that standing cuts the length of meetings too. Increasing efficiency and decreasing meeting time – winning both ways.

The treadmill desk – Google, Microsoft, Evernote and Mariott are among those using the treadmill desk – with many placing them in communal areas so employees can use them for an hour and then return to their normal desk. That’s multi-tasking at its best.

The pedal desk – Just like the treadmill desk, but an exercise bike instead. I think I’ll give this one a miss…

The standing desk – Something it’s argued the Public Health England report would encourage – could the standing desk be an office necessity of the future? It’s something you do see in places such as libraries – but will it become commonplace all over?

The Balance Ball chair – I for one would love to try this, but having done some research it seems like it’s not great for your body. While it might improve your core strength, there is no alleviation for your lower back which can lead to bad pain.

The way we work as we know it is constantly evolving – as I sit writing this now – maybe next time I’ll be into my third hour of standing or maybe back to sitting, but on an exercise ball. There’s no magic cure to how much we sit – that’s the current nature of work, but who knows, with a bit of standing, a bit of walking and a bit of sitting on exercise balls here and there – who knows the benefits it could provide for our health.

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