“We must break the age old misnomer that if you are not sitting at your desk with your head down, you cannot be working. Research has shown that if you work standing up, you can be much more productive and stay healthy,” says leading furniture industry ergonomist, Levent Çaglar, in support of the ‘Get Britain Standing’ Campaign which looks at the medical research into sitting down for long periods.
The campaign is highlighting a variety of international research and studies in the last 10 years that provide compelling evidence that there is a multitude of health risks connected to sedentary lifestyles. This includes too much sitting and too little physical activity, with research showing that the average British person sits for 8.9 hours each day.
Levent Çaglar, chief ergonomist at FIRA, has been warning about the dangers of prolonged sitting at workplaces and pointing out that the rapid technological changes in information technology have pushed people into more sedentary lifestyles in schools, offices and at home. He has been advocating the use of standing work surfaces in offices and schools and has been at the forefront of getting people to alternate between sitting and standing while they work.
He outlines these views in a paper released on 14th April entitled ‘Sitting down and adopting static postures can damage your health. Get Britain standing up…’
Levent continues: “Standing all day is not a viable or doable solution as people get tired. The best solution is to switch between sitting and standing by using sit-stand desks or have alternative work surfaces available. The option is a must for anyone who already has back problems, but more importantly, if you want to prevent an increased risk of developing back pain for your staff through prolonged sitting at workplaces, you should at least consider providing sit-stand desks at your next refurbishment or office relocation.”
Levent heads up FIRA’s Ergonomics team which provides consultancy services to furniture users, including offices, banks and blue chip companies about ergonomics. Ergonomics is the application of specialist knowledge to the process of product design in order to ensure that the finished item offers its user optimum comfort, safety and efficiency.
Speaking about his own experience using a sit-stand desk, he adds: “I used to work at a very good fixed height desk sitting on ergonomically excellent chairs using a footrest. While working with computers, despite taking frequent short breaks, walking about, at the end of the day I used get leg aches and a stiff back. However, about 15 years ago one of my clients asked me to evaluate an electrically-operated sit-stand desk. Within a fortnight I found that I was regularly alternating between sitting and standing. This had the effect of making me feel much more alert, especially towards the end of the day. I also found that in general things were getting done quicker and at the end of the day I was no longer feeling stiff or tired.
“Now I find it almost impossible working sitting down at fixed height desks. At such workstations, after a short while I begin to feel fatigued, cramped and less alert. Colleagues initially thought this was the latest gadget for the ergonomists, but soon I caught them using my sit-stand desk when I was not in the office. Soon after I acquired a sit-stand meeting table, meetings were shorter and standing seemed to help the attendees to concentrate their minds on the subject in hand.”