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September 12, 2017
Are you sitting down? New info on standing may surprise you!

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely as those who primarily sit to have a heart attack or congestive heart failure. It was disappointing news to those who have taken to standing while they work in the belief that they are making a healthier choice.

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The research study was led by the Canada-based Institute for Work & Health (IWH). Senior scientist Dr. Peter Smith notes that there’s been much written lately about the health effects of prolonged sitting on the job. He added, “Our results suggest that workplaces also need to pay attention to the health effects of prolonged standing, and target their prevention programs accordingly.”

Some 7,300 Canadian workers who were initially free of heart disease were followed for 12 years. Within the group, 9 percent were estimated to predominantly stand, and 37 percent mostly sat. The researchers linked that information with health records to identify which participants had a new case of heart disease over the next 12 years (2003 to 2015).

During the period, 3.4 percent of the study group developed heart disease. Without taking other factors into account, the risk of heart disease was higher among those whose jobs kept them mostly standing. After adjusting for personal factors like age, gender, and education; health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and anxiety disorders; physical demands of the job; and health behaviors like smoking and drinking, the risk of heart disease was still twice as high among those who stood.

Said Smith, “A combination of sitting, standing, and moving on the job is likely to have the greatest benefits for heart health. Workplaces need to apply this message not just to workers who predominantly sit, but also—in fact, especially—to workers who predominantly stand.” He added that prevention programs that focus solely on physical job activity, but ignore issues like the psychosocial work environment, are not likely to lead to meaningful changes in cardiovascular risk.

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