STANDING DESKS RELIEVE BACK PAIN AND BOOST PRODUCTIVITY

In a report published by the Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Laboratory, several studies involving the use of height-adjustable standing desks in various office settings were analyzed. The purpose was to find any correlation in the results of the studies and to determine what work environment benefits could be inferred from their findings. Many positive advantages associated with periodic standing throughout the workday were demonstrated, ranging from improved musculoskeletal conditions to increased work productivity[i].


The Methodology

Computer-using office workers operating in sedentary environments (i.e. sitting for the majority of their workday) were provided with sit/stand workstations that allowed them to move from a sitting to standing position throughout their workday. Testing procedures varied slightly from study to study, but most involved having subjects alternate between sitting and standing for timed intervals over a period of 1-3 months. In order to measure results, interviews with the participants were conducted both before and after the adoption of height-adjustable standing desks, along with analysis of body metrics such as feet swelling and spinal shrinkage[ii].


The Results

Standing Desks Boost ProductivityAccording to the results, participants who regularly alternated between a sitting and standing position while working took fewer and shorter breaks and demonstrated improved productivity. Participants also showed signs of improved health. Musculoskeletal discomfort (i.e. back pain), particularly in the upper back, decreased by an average of 62 percent and the occurrence of injuries and illnesses decreased by more than 50 percent. Overall, alternating between sitting and standing resulted in the least discomfort and was reported as the preferred work style by 70% of study participants[iii].

To put these findings into perspective, nearly everyone in the developed world understands that regular moderate exercise is good for you; what this report from Cornell shows is that low impact movement – movement as simple as using a sit/stand workstation to periodically shift from sitting down to standing up – can yield benefits ranging from back pain relief to improved work output. In other words, incorporating the simple act of standing into a sedentary work environment can be every bit as important as regular time at the gym.


[i] Hedge, Alan. Effects of an Electric Height-Adjustable Worksurface on Self-Assessed Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Productivity in Computer Workers. Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomic Research Laboratory. Ithaca, NY: 2004. Page 3. Web.

[ii] Hedge, Alan. Effects of an Electric Height-Adjustable Worksurface on Self-Assessed Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Productivity in Computer Workers. Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomic Research Laboratory. Ithaca, NY: 2004. 4-7. Web.

[iii] Hedge, Alan. Effects of an Electric Height-Adjustable Worksurface on Self-Assessed Musculoskeletal Discomfort and Productivity in Computer Workers. Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomic Research Laboratory. Ithaca, NY: 2004. 4-7. Web.




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