Here we look at sitting vs standing at work and why retailers should encourage their employees to do the latter where possible.
These days, most people spend most of their work days sitting down. Many people strive to get such jobs because traditionally, work that entails sitting at a desk all day long has been seen to pay more than those involving a lot of standing.
While desk jobs usually pay better, they may have some unexpected negative effects on your wellbeing. During the last few years a lot of research has been done regarding the health implications of sitting in an office chair all day.
Several studies have indicated that sitting for more than 6 – 8 hours every day can have very serious negative health consequences over the long term.
Not only can sitting all day long be bad for your health, but it may also have a negative influence on staff productivity. If you own a retail store, you may want to consider encouraging your staff to spend more time standing up during their work day.
More and more studies are indicating that spending most of your day sitting can have a very negative impact on your overall health.
One review of 43 studies showed that the length of time you spend sitting every day is positively correlated with your chances of lung, colon and endometrial cancers. Other studies have linked an excessive time spent sitting with increased chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer and depression.
One explanation for these negative health consequences comes from the fact that when you sit down, most of the muscles in your body (especially leg muscles) shut off. When standing up, your leg muscles and abdomen are engaged because they’re needed to stay up and balanced.
Because of this increased muscle activity, your body uses more energy when standing. When sitting down however, almost no energy is expended by the body. Per hour, about 50 calories (depending on the person’s metabolism, body composure, etc.) more are burned when standing up versus sitting down. This may not seem like much, but when you spend 8 – 16 hours sitting down each day this equates to a difference of between 400 and 800 calories each and every day.
If your retail staff would spend 4 out of 8 hours standing during each workday, they would burn an extra 50,000 calories every year. This more or less equates to finishing 15 marathons.
Many scientists also agree that it is not just the number of calories burned when sitting versus standing that influences your health, but also the metabolic changes that happen in your muscles when sitting down. One of these changes is the significantly lower amounts of lipase that are released from stationary muscles. Lipase is an enzyme that helps with eliminating bad fats from the blood and keeping levels of HDL cholesterol up.
It is because of such metabolic changes that you can’t compensate the negative effects of prolonged sitting with intense exercise. The negative health effects of 8 hours or more of sitting each day can’t be undone by exercise just as exercise can’t undo damage caused by smoking.
Encouraging your staff to get up onto their feet regularly will help keep them healthier and improve their overall well-being.
Sitting Negatively Impacts Productivity
Another good reasons for retailers to encourage employees to stretch their legs as often as possible is the increase in productivity that may result.
When sitting down for a long period of time your body, including your brain becomes lethargic. This can cause a so-called “office coma”. Your thoughts start to wander and you will have a more difficult time focussing on your work.
Getting up regularly helps prevent your body and brain from powering down, keeping employees alert and more productive.
Encouraging your retail staff to spend more time standing up is a smart business hack that will improve your staff’s health and productivity and consequently also your bottom line.
Best Standing Desk Solutions
For good ergonomics, the best standing desk solutions look to be those that are height adjustable, right from sitting to standing, and suitable for people of all shapes and sizes. If keyboard height and monitor height can be adjusted independently, you achieve dual ergonomics, which will help you prevent neck and wrist pain, eye strain / headaches and other issues.
We have tried the Kangaroo standing desk systems that are extremely flexible, yet reassuringly sturdy.
US website: Ergodesktop – the manufacturer and USA supplier. Learn more and find a local agent.
UK distributor: Project Ergo standing desk systems, which are supplied across Europe. Find product information and get personal advice on the best solution for you.