New Study Suggests Ideal Standing-to-Sitting Ratio

A new Canadian study suggests what ATPs and seating & mobility clinicians already know from their professional experience: The human body is not designed to spend most of its time sitting down.

But the research goes further to suggest that ideally, we should be standing more than we should be sitting. A lot more.

The study was conducted by Jack P. Callaghan, Ph.D., professor and Canada research chair in spine biomechanics and injury prevention, department of kinesiology, faculty of applied health sciences, University of Waterloo, Ontario.

In a news announcement about the findings, Callaghan said, "By combining data from the infrared light-emitting diodes (IREDs) and electrodes, our computer can build our subject's skeleton as it moves in three-dimensional space. There are subjective scores, so we know when an individual reports feeling clinically relevant pain. Then we can look back at the measurements and see what was driving that pain: Was it due to increased muscle activity, or was it posturally driven?"

Subjects in the study were observed during multiple four-hour time periods as they performed typical office tasks using sit-to-stand desks.

Participants wore IREDs on the thighs, feet, pelvis, spine, trunk and head so cameras in the room could capture posture and movement. As part of the study, subjects were not allowed to move around beyond either sitting or standing.

While previous sitting vs. standing recommendations have suggested standing for one minute per every three minutes of sitting, the Canadian study suggested the opposite ratio to be more beneficial.

"Dr. Callaghan's team found you should stand for three [minutes] and sit for one," the news announcement said. "So, if you sit for five minutes, try standing for 15 minutes. For an eight-hour workday this would break down to two hours of sitting and six hours of standing."

Current guidelines from the Occupational Health & Safety Council of Ontario "advise against sitting for more than six hours or standing for more than four hours," the news announcement said.

The study was sponsored by Teknion, a manufacturer of sit-stand workstations.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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