August 28, 2013
It’s an exciting time to be working at the intersection of office design and employee management. Companies have realized the importance of a healthy staff, and they’re investing to make it happen. The potential payoff is huge– healthy employees take fewer sick days and are more productive at work. These two factors alone can give a company a tremendous bump to its bottom line (not to mention the humanitarian side effects of helping people live longer, healthier lives).
Improving employee health can seem like a daunting task, but the approach is simple: get your employees to move more during the workday. As it turns out, the traditional office setup of chairs and desks is one of the worst ways to position your employees. We know this is hard to hear given the default setup of most offices, but let’s review a few of the key stats:
Sedentary people have a significantly higher death rate:
In an Australian study of over 200,000 people 45 years and older, those who sit for 11+ hours a day are 40% more likely to die within the next three years than those who sit for less than 3 hours per day. This statistic is adjusted for confounding factors such as sex, age, smoking habits, physical activity, self-rated health, and disability. (1)
Physical inactivity is highly correlated to increased illness:
The World Health Organization states: Physical inactivity (lack of physical activity) has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Moreover, physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden. (2)
Our ability to process fats and sugars (i.e., our metabolism) almost entirely shuts down when sitting.
In experiments with both rats and humans, muscle biopsies show significant degradation in our muscles’ metabolism, negative changes in gene expression, and an increase in oxidative stress when muscles are inactive. (3,4)
Because of these staggering statistics, sit-to-stand desks are gaining in popularity. They are the quickest and easiest solution to the health problems caused by a seated workforce. Of course, employees shouldn’t be forced to stand all day either; the trick is to design an environment with options.
Read our blog entry on specific products that will help transform your office into one that is healthier and more productive, with employees that have the option to sit or stand. Want to make the change but need some advice? We’re here to help and we love a good challenge. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do to Fit Your Space.
1) Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108810
2) World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pa/en/index.html
3) Forty-eight hours of unloading and 24 h of reloading lead to changes in global gene expression patterns related to ubiquitination and oxidative stress in humans: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20798274
4) Suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase activity during physical inactivity: a molecular reason to maintain daily low-intensity activity: