Your Best Position Is the Next One
While standing desks have received a lot of media attention over the past few years, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of office fitness. Like sitting in a chair or walking at a treadmill desk, standing is an activity best enjoyed in moderation.
The hazards of sitting are now well documented. Legions of office workers concerned about sitting disease have flocked to commercial and home-made standing desks, seeking relief from back pain and hoping to reverse the metabolic damage they have incurred from years of sitting.
But standing isn’t without its problems. Anyone who has ever had to work a trade show booth knows that walking is easier on the feet, legs, and back than standing for long periods of time.
The treadmill desk has been the obvious next step for many health-conscious office workers, letting them walk as they work. As you may already have guessed (and as we wrote about here), walking at work is not without its problems. To avoid injury and to maximize your productivity, you need to slowly work your way into your walking regimen, and you need to optimize your walking pace and duration as your body adapts to its new, more active routine.
We still have much to learn about office fitness, but it’s safe to say at this point that you should never stay in any position—sitting, standing or walking—for too long at one time. This also meshes with the ergonomics best practice of adopting the appropriate posture for the task at hand. Some work is best done sitting, some standing, and some walking.
A very common misunderstanding about treadmill desks is that they’re intended as a replacement for a sitting desk. In fact, you should probably not spend more than 2-3 hours at a time walking on a treadmill desk. Switching from sitting to standing to walking throughout the day is the most prudent regimen. Just as important is to take the time to step off of your treadmill to stretch properly at least every hour to avoid muscle strain.