Do a stand-up job at work siting may kill you

The headlines have been coming thick and fast: ‘Sitting is killing you’,
‘Sitting is the new smoking’, The war on sitting’. In the ever-changing
landscape of health hazards, sitting is the new villain – as a Time
magazine gif portrays it, a grim reaper creeping up behind you to lop
your head off even as you idly hit ‘like’ on Facebook posts.

Fitness experts believe the war on sitting can be fought with a simple
weapon: by standing more. Of course, ideally all humans should do their
jobs while moving around, but since that is not a possible solution in a
knowledge economy, the next-best alternative is to stand as much as you
can. Or so say the advocates of the ‘stand at work’ culture, which is
slowly filtering into India.

Standing desks – even treadmill
desks — are common now in many offices in the West, and India has many
early adopters of the standing workstation culture as well. Says Sandeep
Ramesh (‘Standy’ to friends), a 31-year-old manager with Google
(Mumbai), “I shifted to standing early this year. I burn three times as
many calories just by standing as opposed to sitting all day.”

Sandeep, who has lost 3 kg since starting the practice and has seen a
10% decrease in BMI and about 3-4% decrease in body fat percentage, says
standing has improved his overall attention to fitness, and motivated
him to improve his diet and exercise. In his office, there are even a
few treadmill workstations, and the culture is shifting towards standing
more. “Most people in my office alternate between sitting and standing,
but I guess I am one of the few who does it 100% of the time,” he adds.

Standing does help burn more calories, says Nisha Varma, a Reebok
master trainer from Pune. “If you stand for three hours a day for five
days, that’s around 750 calories burnt. At this rate you burn around 8
pounds or 8.6 kg, of fat in a year. In addition, standing also tones up
your postural muscles — calves, hip flexors, chest and all the muscles
along the spine. To develop the habit of standing while working, try it
for 10 minutes every hour,” she advises.

Prabhu N, a
37-year-old software development manager who works in Bangalore with an
e-commerce major, says standing at work was a lifestyle choice. “When I
moved to this company five months ago, I saw a few people using standing
desks with high chairs,” says Prabhu. “I am an active person, and hate
sitting around, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The first few days, I
was sitting more often than standing, but now it’s the other way round,”
says Prabhu, who spends at least 3-4 hours at work on his feet. Many
meetings in his office are also conducted standing up, and he says his
focus and concentration have improved.

Amit Agarwal, a
29-year-old software engineer with Yahoo! in Bangalore, made the
transition because of a slipped disk problem. “The main cause of the
problem was sitting all day and lack of frequent movement. My doctor
recommended I move to a height-adjustable standing desk, which lets me
sit whenever I want. It is less of an effort to just move your
shoulders, legs and do some quick stretches while standing.” Agarwal
says around 10% of the employees in the Yahoo! Bangalore office use
height-adjustable workstations. “I visited Yahoo headquarters in
Sunnyvale, California a few months ago, and I saw at least 80% adoption
rate there. Almost everybody uses a standing desk,” says Agarwal.

At Microsoft India’s Gurgaon and Hyderabad offices, a flexible desk
arrangement allows all employees to work in spaces to suit their
preferences. Says Rohit Thakur, head of human resources, Microsoft
India: “We believe office design and support services need to keep pace
with today’s dynamic work environment. This includes the practice of
standing and working, which has a positive impact on an individual’s
health and state of mind.”

Most companies are now responding to
employee requests for standing or height-adjustable desks, and
procuring them from vendors. Bangalore-based Ergotron supplies standing
desks to several offices. The company has been selling ergonomic
furniture for more than a decade, but started supplying standing desks a
year and a half ago. “When we started, the demand was nil and today we
get around 15 enquiries every day,” says Kiran Jagadeesh, business head,
Ergotron, Bangalore. At Ergotron, all staff members work on stand-up
desks.

Jagadeesh says when employees work standing up, they
tend to take fewer breaks. It also improves attention. “Many companies
like Walmart have stand-up desks in their meeting and conference rooms.
They are ideal for group discussions,” says Jagadeesh. Inspiron, an
engineering firm, is another company that uses stand-up desks for
meetings.

Additional reporting by Namrata Singh

Source:- Times Of India – Chennai Edition