The first big clue came in the early years after World War Two. A research scientist was looking over routine medical data about London bus workers. Then he noticed something striking: bus conductors were consistently living longer than bus drivers.
Since then, that one key observation has been joined by an avalanche of other findings that all add up to one simple, compelling fact: sitting all day is not good for our health.
In fact, medical experts say that anyone in a chair for more than 6 hours a day is at heightened risk for heart disease, obesity, even diabetes. Some go further and say that sitting for long periods may be as bad as smoking a daily pack of cigarettes.
Okay, so what are we, a group of largely desk-bound trade show and events professionals, supposed to do with information like this?
Recently, while renovating our creative, engineering and project management departments, we decided to give employees the option of having standing workstations installed in their work spaces.
These platforms can be manually raised to bring the keyboard and monitors up to standing height, which gives each employee the option of deciding exactly how long they’d like to stand or sit each day.
If you’re a little skeptical about this, the good news is that most of these employees are now choosing to be on their feet for the majority of every day. What’s more, rather than being fatigued, they report feeling more energized. The only issue, albeit a minor one, is footwear: a few women have had to switch to lower-heeled shoes or flats to stay comfortable.
Now, even if you decide that a standing workstation isn’t for you, there’s something else you can try that’s definitely worth doing. Medical advisors recommend that you simply get up every hour or so for a few minutes and perhaps take a brief stroll around the office. Some Fitbit models such as the Alta and most smart watches have alarms built in to remind you to do exactly that.
So the next time you’re working on a budget or approving that next great exhibit, why not take a stand for better health?
In the long run, we’ll all be glad we did.