ShareThis Page
Health

Sit and stand: Find a happy medium at work

Ben Schmitt
| Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Dr. Indu Poornima of Allegheny Health Network
Dr. Indu Poornima of Allegheny Health Network

Stand up, sit down, what's a worker supposed to do?

Standing desks in the office are fairly commonplace these days, but a new study suggests standing at work might be worse than sitting all day.

The study out of Canada published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found jobs requiring prolonged standing to be much more harmful than jobs that require mostly sitting.

Several years ago, other studies proclaimed that “sitting is the new smoking.”

Researchers in the study followed 7,300 Ontario workers, ages 35 to 74, for 12 years — who worked 15 hours a week or more.

They found people working in standing jobs were about twice as likely to develop heart disease as people working in sitting jobs.

Overall, 3.4 percent of the study participants developed heart disease — the rate being 4.6 percent in men and 2.1 percent in women.

The standing jobs included cashiers, chefs and machine tool operators who stand for four or five hours at a time.

Nine percent of study participants mainly stood at work when the study began compared with 37 percent who sat for long periods of time. They initially responded to a survey about age, ethnicity, height and weight, race, shift schedule, alcohol use and whether they were smokers.

“These findings have important implications for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and the role of the work environment as a cardiovascular risk factor,” the study said. “Predominantly standing occupations, as opposed to predominantly sitting occupations, was the occupational body position category most strongly associated with heart disease.”

Sedentary still isn't good

Still, the results don't mean that a sedentary lifestyle is good for you, said Dr. Indu Poornima, a cardiologist at Allegheny Health Network.

She said finding a happy medium is key to achieving optimal health, adding mental job stress can be just as harmful.

“I think the bottom line is that sitting or standing for long periods of time is not good for you,” Poornima said. “This is not a study I would hang my hat on.”

No matter the job, she recommends exercise at the beginning or end of the day.

Some of its study's limitations included self-reporting from participants, one-time answers and a lack of monitoring of standing and sitting time.

Workers forced to sit for long periods should remember to get up and move around.

“Take the steps when you can, park farther away from the front door so you have to walk more,” said Poonima.

Moreover, she said, allowing people in jobs that require standing a chance to sit could lead to better health.

“You don't want to be at the end of either spectrum,” she said.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me