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New Study Offers Stand-Up Health Solution

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Employees with desks that force them to stand at regular intervals stood 60 minutes more per work day than co-workers with regular desks, according to a new University of Iowa study.

Lucas Carr, an assistant professor who worked on the study, said sitting eight hours a day puts workers at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes - and becomes more of an issue with each passing year.

"The idea here is to really redesign the work environment, because most of us will be working for anywhere between 20 and 30 years," he said. "So if somebody is sitting for 40 hours a week and for 30 years, you can imagine how those things would build up."

Carr said doctors now recommend that workers take a break from sitting at their desks to get their blood flowing at least once an hour. He added that reconfiguring work spaces could play a big role in fighting the obesity epidemic in the United States. The study found that employees with sit-stand desks burned up to 87 more calories a day - and walked an additional six minutes at work - than their sitting counterparts.

Carr said the study focussed on workers who had been using sit-stand desks for an average of 1.8 years. Unlike use of an exercise bike that ends up collecting dust in the garage, he said, workers continued using the new desks even after they had lost their novelty. If you can't convince your boss to buy everyone a newfangled desk, he said, there still are ways you can short circuit the negative impacts of sitting all day.

"One thing that I even recommend is for people just to drink more water," he said. "By doing that, you know, it's a natural reminder for you to get up and get away from your desk every 45 or 50 minutes and go to the restroom."

Carr said sedentary jobs have risen 83 percent since 1960 and now account for 43 percent of all jobs in the United States. On average, he said, office workers sit more than 80 percent of the work day.

So the next time your boss asks why you're not sitting at your desk? "Sorry, doctor's orders."

The report is online at ajpmonline.org.


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