Keenan Blog

Too Much Sitting

November 14, 2017

A great deal of research has demonstrated that too much sitting is bad for your health, whether it be at work, during leisure time or a combination of the two.  In a study by Zemp (2016), it showed that more static behaviors were associated with individuals who had back pain.  A study by Ma, et al., 2017 looked at sedentary time and its association with risk for colorectal cancer in adults.  They found that “prolonged sitting time was correlated with a significantly higher risk of colorectal cancer, and that increasing two hours per day of sitting time was associated with a 4% increase risk of colorectal cancer.”

So how much sitting is too much sitting?  We need to move every 30 minutes and try to reduce workplace and leisure sitting by 30 to 120 minutes per day (Shrestha, 2016).

Bottom Line: Reduce sitting time at work and at home’

One solution frequently proposed for workplace sitting is a sit/stand workstation. Sadly, statistics show that those who have access to one, don’t use it often enough.  Research is trending that to have employees actually USE sit/stand stations, there must be a supportive social environment, education on the benefits, training on how to use it and solid reminders and reinforcement.

Note that we are not advocating that all employees should be supplied with a sit/stand workstation at their desks. Employers should have a set of criteria (functional needs) for those who would need them as a reasonable accommodation.  Here are a few additional ideas for creating a work environment that allows for more standing:

? Provide opportunities for employees to change positions by having a few sit/stand workstations available in common areas that employees can log into and stand for a while.
? Encourage frequent stretching or standing breaks along with a way to remind employees to move regularly.
? Encourage all sitters to MOVE by placing the printer or copy machine down the hall.
? Add more water stations around the office.

Now, for some good news…

We’ve all heard of Fidget Spinners but what about Fidget Sitters?

Another interesting study that caught my eye looked at those of us who fidget.  We are a group of people who generally can’t sit still, whether from restless legs to constantly changing positions in the chair to living in constant motion. Our Special Ed kids have fidget spinners to redirect their restlessness but what about us fidget sitters?

The 2015 study (Hagger-Johnson, et al), surprisingly found that fidgeting modified the risk associated with sitting time.  Does this mean that all those times I’ve tried to ‘sit still’ were for naught??  Fidgeting may be a protective factor in the excessive sitting solution, although more research is needed in this area.  For now, I’m just a ‘fidget sitter’, here with my restless legs and strangely, I feel vindicated.

About Kathy Espinoza
Kathy is Keenan's ergonomist and conference speaker, authoring numerous articles on ergonomics, injury prevention and management issues that have an impact on Keenan clients.