Shall I sit or shall I stand?
Well, the answer is to do both.
We are hearing a great deal about the impact of people working from home now and not always in ideal conditions; for example, laptops on the dining room table and sitting on the dining room chair, or possibly working from a sofa or a bed – these are not great workstations, but in many situations they are having to suffice.
Our ancestors of 200,000 years ago were very active – they hunted and scavenged for food and life was very hard for them – we evolved to be physically active when it was necessary and socially rewarding, but otherwise we avoided unnecessary exertion. When we weren’t hunting for food, we did rest and sit, although it was mainly on the ground!
However, these days we don’t have to hunt and search for food and we’ve basically eliminated the connection between moving, hunting, food gathering and survival.
Due to the industrial and technological revolutions we have created the most amazing labour-saving devices. This started in the nineteenth century but has grown at an ever-increasing pace over the last few decades.
The physical work that we used to do has been replaced with desk jobs and our labour-saving devices include non-iron shirts, vacuums that hoover on their own, the personal computer, the smart phone and millions of apps to amuse us, day and night. We can order food to be delivered to our doors through our apps and then eat whilst watching streamed films, eliminating the need to walk to the cinema.
Yet our overall health and wellbeing is dependent on how much we move – some of our most basic physiological functions require our bodies to move. When we move, we use our muscles which are one of the most important components of our body; for example, we would be unable to speak or express our thoughts if we didn’t use our muscles. They take us from simple things like talking and blinking to complex movements like running and lifting.
The problem with our 21st century lives is that we are sitting too much. Research has shown that being inactive will mean that we are more likely to get sick earlier in our lives. Being regularly, physically active helps with our strength, balance, bone mass and cognitive ability.
Returning to the original question – shall I sit, or shall I stand– the answer is to do both, with regular breaks from both, to make sure we alter our posture and use our muscles.
If we are in tune with our bodies, every time we want to fidget (if we have been doing the same thing for some time), this is a clue that our body is really asking us to move more. And we are in control of what that can be – when you do start to move more the beneficial impact is immediate. Find a way to integrate activity into your working day, as doing something is always better than doing nothing.
I don’t believe that we can wait another 2.5 million years until our bodies evolve and adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle.