Health: How stand-up desks could boost health in Leeds and beyond

Children from Grove House Primary school, in Bradford, who have taken part in a study using desks that can be used sitting or standing. Picture by ''Andrew McCaren/ Rossparry.co.uk.
Children from Grove House Primary school, in Bradford, who have taken part in a study using desks that can be used sitting or standing. Picture by ''Andrew McCaren/ Rossparry.co.uk.
0
Have your say

Does spending hours hunched over a desk, propped up by an increasingly uncomfortable chair while you type furiously sound familiar?

Well it is thought on average people in Britain spend 60 per cent of their waking hours sedentary, while office staff can spend three quarters of their time awake on their backsides.

Teacher Hannah Rodgers at Grove House Primary School, in Bradford, using a desk that can be used sitting or standing.  Picture by Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk.

Teacher Hannah Rodgers at Grove House Primary School, in Bradford, using a desk that can be used sitting or standing. Picture by Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk.

And unsurprisingly, lengthy seated stints are pretty bad for your health, with scientists linking it to issues like obesity, heart problems and diabetes.

A recent American Cancer Society study even found that long periods of time spent sitting can increase the chance of breast, ovarian and bone cancer in women by a tenth.

But finding the remedy to a lifestyle that has seemingly crept up on many of us could apparently be quite simple – stand up more at your desk.

In a bid to give the next generation a healthy leg up, recently completed research by Loughborough University with Born in Bradford researchers from the Bradford Institute for Health Research has seen adjustable sit-to-stand desks installed at Grove House Primary School, in Bradford.

In Bradford, with its high deprivation and childhood obesity levels, the 27 year five pupils became more active, reducing their daily classroom sitting time by 52 minutes, as their step counts soared over the nine-week study.

Born in Bradford’s lead researcher Dr Sally Barber said: “An urgent cultural shift is needed, and we feel that the only way to do this is to target the next generation of workers, particularly while they are still at school. If we can bring about a behaviour change, which we learn from a young age, then this should continue into adulthood and improve people’s overall quality of health.”

Elsewhere John Buckley, Professor of Applied Exercise Science at the University Centre, Shrewsbury, is running a year-long stand-up desk experiment with Virgin Media call centre agents in Sheffield recording their cardio health, weight and blood glucose.

He said: “The simple act of standing for even as little as two hours per day can increase muscle activity to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing.”

Some short-term studies have calculated that a person could burn around 30,000 extra calories per year simply by standing for a couple of hours a day at work.

Whether adjustable desks are really the future remains to be seen but, who knows, many of us could soon be in offices styled on whack-a-mole.

Italian firm Technogym has gone a step further, with staff working from giant medicine balls and having meetings on exercise bikes.

Working up a sweat at the keyboard or in the classroom might be a step too far, but a move to make our daily lives more active is well overdue.

LIFESTYLE BALANCE IS KEY

The NHS has backed calls for more balanced lifestyles as studies suggest we should sit less and exercise more.

Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down fat.

Many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more. We are being urged to exercise at least 150 minutes a week and reduce time sitting or lying. Visit nhs.uk/livewell/fitness.

Six of the Best: Festivals to visit over the next fortnight