Look back at your day yesterday. Did you stand or sit more? For most of us, the answer is sit. Those with an office desk job have shown that they sit for close to 10 hours every day, with the majority of their sitting time done at work. Sitting or remaining sedentary for long stretches of time has been linked to markedly increased risks for obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, heart disease and premature death.

Researchers from Loughborough University in England and Victoria University in Australia recently conducted a study to see how low-key intervention – providing desk-bound employees with sit-stand workstations – would affect the habits of 40 recruited participants. The researchers, after a week with the new desks, noticed that the workers went from about 10 hours of sitting each day to sitting for less than 8.5 hours and increased standing to 6.5 hours per day. However, after three months of the intervention, their daily standing time had fallen to about 5.5. hours, while sitting time increased back over nine hours per day.

In conclusion, the study made the participants sit more at home to compensate for all the time they stood at the office. It’s important to be constantly conscious of the time you spend sitting vs. standing throughout the day, not just at the office. Here are some recommendations on how you can make your office more “standing friendly”:

  1. Keep moving around. Take frequent breaks.
  2. Take phone calls standing up. This also boosts confidence and voice quality.
  3. Try removing tables and chairs from meeting rooms. This leads to shorter meetings.
  4. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  5. Walk to a colleague’s desk, instead of emailing.
  6. Stand during presentations or speeches.

Don’t know how to get started toward a less sedentary work day? Stacie McCarthy, an exercise physiologist with the Care New England Wellness Center, recommends people live by the motto, “exercise is medicine, consistency is key.”

“I would suggest using personal technology alerts on the hour to get up and move. Also, TV commercials are a great time to do a core workout or a strength training workout,” said McCarthy. Try initially progressing toward standing or performing light activity two hours per day. Experts warn that fatigue should be an expected part of this process and eventually your body will change over time and adapt to the increased activity.

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