We all know that sitting and standing for prolonged periods of time is not good for our health. For my clients who have a desk job, I encourage them not to sit still; fidgeting and squirming is good for us. You know, the kind of behaviour that used to get us in trouble when we were kids. I also suggest that they sit on an exercise ball intermittently during they, as well as get up and move as often as possible. For my clients that have a job which requires prolonged standing, I have several tricks to relieve stress on their back, legs, hips and feet.
It’s important to keep moving during the day, including at work. But I was amused to learn that some businesses are introducing office furniture that allow employees to enjoy a new concept called “active work stations.” These work stations allow employees to stand, walk, cycle, or sit on an exercise ball while they are at work. All day long. I am a huge fan of all of these activities, but to engage in them for hours on end sounds ridiculous to me.
What sounds like a good idea in theory can be a disaster in reality. Not only are you risking injuries from repetitive movements, I believe you are risking job performance as well. After all, would you want your pilot to be pedaling a stationary bike while they fly your plane? Or your surgeon walking on a treadmill in the operating room? Our attention is best served when we focus on the task at hand, regardless of what it is.
If you sit at a desk all day long, standing or walking on a treadmill at your desk sounds heavenly. Until you try it for a few hours. If you stand at work all day, you would probably give your eyeteeth for a chance to sit down at work. Until your butt gets numb. Too much of any one thing is exactly that: too much.
It’s also important to have clear boundaries between work, recreation, rest, exercise and play. However, you can still find a way to move through your work day to relieve stress, stay alert, maintain your focus, and still keep yourself healthy, happy and active. I just think it can be done in a more sensible and effective way.
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP