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September 03, 2013
Are your employees 'standing up' for a healthier workplace?

Some people claim that office-based employees can improve their health—and their productivity—by using a treadmill desk. Is it practical? Are there real benefits? Keep reading to find out.

An article in the September 2013 issue of Yoga Journal recommends becoming a “standup employee.” It claims that moving on the job is a key to improved mood and increased productivity.

The article highlights the experience of a San Francisco communications professional who walked 350 miles in 3 months without ever leaving her office. The employee became less sedentary and says she also became more productive and energetic. Yoga Journal points to a variety of studies that highlight the dangers of sitting for long periods, including an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease for those who sit more than 6 hours a day.

Among employers offering a standing desk to their employees is Mutual of Omaha in Nebraska. The furniture maker Trekdesk says its height-adjustable workstation lets users get the daily exercise they need to lose or maintain weight, reduce stress, prevent disease, strengthen muscles, and boost mood and productivity without additional exercise time during the day.

More evidence about the benefits of standing

The nonprofit healthcare provider HealthPartners joined with Ergotron, maker of a sit-stand workstation, to learn how people feel when they get up and move. Their research found that workers who had the choice of alternating between sitting and standing positions felt more productive, energized, and focused on the job.

A significant finding was a reduction in musculoskeletal discomfort. Those using a sit-stand workstation reported a 50 percent reduction in back and neck pain after using the desk for 4 weeks. They also reported a nearly 40 percent reduction in fatigue.

Ergotron says prolonged sitting is a risk factor in health problems including hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

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