A new Mayo Clinic study suggests incorporating “active workstations”, otherwise known as standing desks, into office settings could significantly reduce sedentary time and enhance mental cognition.

The research, led by preventive cardiologist Dr Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, highlights the potential benefits of integrating movement into the working day to mitigate the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.

Office workers can be sedentary for upwards of eight hours a day, and with many scientists and researchers claiming that ‘sitting is the new smoking,’ those working in desk jobs could now have the solution.

Standing desks are definitely better than sitting

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the small-scale study involved 44 participants in a randomized clinical trial. Over the course of four days, participants were exposed to four different office settings: sedentary, standing, walking and using a stepper.

The report also addresses concerns that many businesses may have about implementing such a considerable change in the office – according to the analysis of the participants’ neurocognitive function, active workstations had minimal impact on typing speed and accuracy.

The report’s conclusion reads: “Active workstations improved cognitive performance, suggesting that these workstations can help decrease sedentary time without work performance impairment.”

Dr Lopez-Jimenez commented: “We would do well to consider an active workstation in the prescription for prevention and treatment of conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

With little to no negative direct impact on productivity, companies willing to introduce more active workstations could see significant improvements to workers’ health and well-being, which might even have a positive indirect effect on productivity.

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