By Shari Everly, human resources coordinator, Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc.

A somewhat-revolutionary trend is beginning to take hold at Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc: the notion that it is better to stand, as opposed to sit, while at work. During the past 18 months, three Mulzer employees have converted to a standing workstation.

The desks of Shari Everly, Patty Hahus and Susie Shephard were modified to standing desks, with help from the Mulzer Crushed Stone Welding Shop. Steel frames raise their desks to the proper ergonomic height. The trio reports better concentration while standing, feeling more mobile and not delaying running to the printer or other errands since they’re already standing!

mulzerWorking from an upright position burns more calories (40%) than sitting. Additionally, prolonged sitting has been shown to increase plasma triglyceride levels, decrease levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease insulin sensitivity – all of which are bad on the body. If you’re unable to switch to a standing desk, try the following:

  • Take frequent walks. Regular walk breaks help improve circulation, refocus the brain and burn fat.
  • Desk exercises, such as stretching while seated.
  • Treadmill desk. This allows the user to walk at a slow pace while working.
  • Yoga ball chair. Sitting on a yoga ball helps to engage the core muscles and improves balance.

It would appear that movement is key to remaining healthy, which means that prolonged standing is not quite the answer either. Workers should be encouraged to move from a sitting to a standing position and back as frequently as possible. The use of a sit/stand stool is a valuable resource. A foot rest is a useful addition to a standing workstation to reduce stress on the lumbar spine.

There are tasks that are best performed from a seated position – usually those that are visually intensive or require precision. However, it has been proven that the act of sitting alone creates undue stress on the spinal column and encourages poor posture whether at school, work or home, and can be a major initiator of back pain and related conditions.