Stand up, sit down: How to survive a day in the office

WASHINGTON — For the past decade most people have been aware that too much sitting can be hazardous to their health, yet other studies show excessive standing is detrimental.

What’s an employee to do?

A blend of sitting and standing seems to be the healthiest, according to health experts, reports the The Wall Street Journal.

Sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the chances of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

On the other hand, too much standing raises the risk of varicose veins, back and foot problems, and carotid artery disease, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you,” said Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University.

Hedge said the solution is breaking up activity throughout the day.

His recommended formula? For every half-hour working in an office, a person should sit 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes, then move and stretch for two minutes.

Standing for more than 10 minutes often causes a person to lean, according to Hedge, which can lead to back and other musculoskeletal problems.

Researchers continue to explore whether excessive sitting causes long-term vascular conditions.

In a recent study published in the journal Experimental Physiology, after six hours of sitting, the vascular function in one of the leg’s main arteries was reduced by more than 50 percent, but was restored after 10 minutes of walking, according to the senior author.

Scientists aren’t recommending that everyone become a marathon runner — small changes in behavior can yield large rewards.

Michael Jensen, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, recommends ways to reduce daily sitting time.

During a meeting with one or two other people, Jensen suggests the small group walk and talk, rather than sitting at a table.

Jensen encourages parents to stand and move while watching their children’s athletic events.

“There’s no reason you have to sit and watch those games,” Jensen said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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