Sitting for a long time is bad but standing is too?
Sitting for too long at a desk isn’t good for your health, but neither is standing, according to a new study.
Study leaders focused on 14 men and 12 women with half between the ages of 18 and 30, while the other half were between the ages 50 to 65 years old.
Participants were asked to replicate a typical work day at a manufacturing plant and were asked to report their discomfort. Regardless of gender or age, participants equally experienced significant fatigue at the end of the work day. Clear signs of muscle fatigue were evidential after 30 minutes of standing.
“Two hours of standing on the job is not associated with problems, but a longer period is likely to have detrimental effects,” said Maria-Gabriela Garcia, lead author from the department of health sciences and technology at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, in a news release. “The incorporation of specific breaks, work rotation, or the use of more dynamic activities could alleviate the effects of long-term fatigue.”
The authors of the study noted that almost 50 percent of all workers worldwide spend more than 75 percent of their workday standing. Researchers concluded that standing five hours a day contributed to significant and prolonged lower-limb fatigue, which may raise a person’s risk for long-term back pain and musculoskeletal disorders.
Some physicians aren’t surprised by the findings.
“I see more people with bad diets and smoking histories – people who are overweight doing jobs that they are not fit for,” says Dr. Ashwani Garg, family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Unfit workers combined with prolonged standing or sitting, as well as, lifting duties that are too heavy, lead to injury and chronic pain.”
Regular stretching and alternating between seated and standing work is beneficial, Dr. Garg adds.
“Carrying an overweight body for a long time can cause deterioration of the spine,” he says. “Improvement in one’s core strength, attention to diet, and abstinence from smoking are all things someone can do to help their back.”
Because the study was small and had very limited duration, study authors said it doesn’t prove that a job requiring prolonged standing will harm a person’s health, and suggested that more research needs to be done.
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