Great Britain in the Vertical World War

             In the midst of the Vertical Revolution, Americans across the country are using the health risks of sitting as the main ammunition to take over sedentary lifestyles. However, in reality, it should be termed the Vertical World War because the U.S. is not alone in this fight. Many other countries like Australia and Britain are taking a stand as well and urging the many citizens to follow suit. Great Britain, specifically, has a very useful website, GetBritainStanding.org, for anyone in the world considering making the switch to a sit-stand station.

 

            GetBritainStanding.org has rich content on the many aspects of sedentary work environments. The content helps to inform people of the health risks associated with sitting as well as offer solutions to employers and employees. Under the health risks tab, “The Sitting Problem,” is presented along with the top 10 health risks and the research that has been done thus far.  Furthermore, there is a tab for their "Active Working” campaign that has many resources for educating companies on the productivity, engagement, and reduced absenteeism benefits of Active Working. 

 

            Two tabs on GetBritainStanding.org I would like to highlight as being very useful are the “Employers” and “Solutions” tabs. The section for employers has a comprehensive review of everything one needs to know to convert his or her office from a sedentary to an active work environment. This tab also includes key information for employers, the costs of sitting, regulations, and other necessary parts for an employer to consider. It also has a link to reserve a spot at the annual Active Working Summit, where companies are educated on the many benefits of active working. The “Solutions” tab is also significant because it offers many sit-stand solutions with desktop risers similar to the Standee Classic, help with getting started, as well as discount vouchers. Moreover, in this tab there is a section for one to post and read stories and experiences regarding the switching to a sit-stand station as well as Q & A.  

 

            One of the unique features on this site is the “Sitting Calculator” which is conveniently placed directly on the homepage. This calculator allows you to determine your risk level based on your sitting time. To do this, the calculator asks you to estimate the time you spend sitting daily while you eat, commute, work, and relax. After estimating the amount of time in each of these areas, you hit calculate and see your risk level which ranges from “low” to “very high.” Next time you get a chance, go on to GetBritainStanding.org and check out your risk level, it may motivate you to start standing today!

            GetBritainStanding.org does a great job at including the necessary information one needs if they are considering switching to an active work environment. Although many of the statistics displayed on the site such as “British people sit for 8.9 hours each day (on average)” are directed towards the British, all of the information regarding the health risks and transition to standing is universal and should be brought to the attention people around the world that are making, or considering to make, the change. Check it out now. 

University Study Demonstrates Significant Blood Flow Impairment from Prolonged Sitting

As more and more research surfaces revealing the negative health effects of sitting, people are attempting to find ways to combat those adverse health effects. Recently, an Indiana University study has found that walking for five minutes every hour can reverse harm caused to leg arteries during an hour of prolonged sitting.

 

The reasoning behind this claim is that when you sit, slack muscles do not contract to effectively pump blood to the heart. Hence, blood can pool in the legs and affect the endothelial function of arteries, or the ability of blood vessels to expand from increased blood flow. This university study is the first experimental evidence of these effects.

 

During this study, researchers were able to demonstrate that the expansion of the arteries, as a result of increased blood flow of the main artery in the legs, was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. However, the participants who walked for five minutes after every hour of sitting saw no change in their arterial function.

 

The study involved 11 non-obese, healthy men with ages ranging from 20 to 35 who participated in two randomized trials. In one trial they sat for three hours without moving their legs. In the other trial they sat for a three-hour period but also walked on a treadmill for five minutes at the speed of 2 mph halfway through each hour. Researchers used a blood pressure cuff and ultrasound technology to measure the functionality of the femoral artery at baseline and again at each hour mark.

 

The study, “Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks in Sitting Time on Endothelial Function,” will be published in the spring in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

 

American adults sit for about eight hours a day. The health effects are visible after just one hour. Knowing this, everyone should take action to disrupt prolonged sitting every hour, whether it’s working at a stand up desk or taking a break to walk for five minutes through the office.

Solutions to the Sedentary Work Environment Epidemic

Think about your job or the job you hope to have; how much physical activity does it require? Given that sedentary habits have become so institutionalized in the workplace and engrained in our daily routines, reversing the sedentary work environment epidemic is a difficult undertaking. However, this process has already begun with a number of solutions. 

One recent solution that has emerged is standing desks. Standing desks enable an individual to be active at his or her desk. Stand-up desks come in many different forms. There are fully adjustable standing desks that allow you to change your desk into a standup desk electronically, and there are add-on podiums like the Standee Classic XL if you don’t want to replace your entire desk. At the extreme end of the spectrum, there are treadmill-standing desks, which enable you to walk on a treadmill while working.
Standee Desk Bamboo in The Work Place


People who have standing desks should engage in “postural rotation,” which involves alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day. Postural rotation is important because standing all day can also be strenuous on your body. You don’t have to have an adjustable stand up desk to practice postural rotation. Generally, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from standing by sitting at lunch, sitting in a meeting, and sitting in your car during your commute. Standing desks are going mainstream, particularly in the tech world at companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. 


Another solution involves exercising while at work through company gyms and exercise programs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company Title IX has a 2,200 square foot gym in its office and an instructor comes in often to lead “CrossFit-like workout[s].” Many other companies have followed suit. Wellness programs like these have resulted in greater productivity, a decline in absenteeism, and reduced long-term health care costs, according to Inc. Magazine.

 
A complimentary solution to exercise programs is providing healthy food in the company cafeteria.  According to Inc. Magazine, offering employees healthy meal options boosts their performance while also satisfying their nutritional needs. Healthy food is a necessary part of any company wellness program.

 
The facts speak for themselves. Though it is a daunting task, every workplace should strive to make the transition from a sedentary to an active work environment. Companies that fail to do so are doing both themselves and their employees a disservice in terms of productivity and health. As more companies implement active work environments, they will set an example for their peer companies, and ultimately it will become a competitive requirement. 

 
It is not solely the employers’ responsibility to make the change from a sedentary work environment, however. Potential employees can and should be putting pressure on companies to make the transition as well. In an interview, one of the job candidate's go-to questions for the company should be, "Have you done anything to address the problem of sedentary work environments?" This might seem strange, but slowly, this tactic is sure to create change in the workplace. And if you already have a job, inform your employer about the health risks of sitting and the long-term benefits of an active work environment. 

 
As the research indicating the negative health effects of sedentary lifestyles gains momentum, so too will active workplace alternatives. Companies that are ahead of the curve will benefit greatly. We all need to combat the negative health effects of the sedentary work environment. Let’s take the necessary steps to stop being a society of sitters.