The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

June 16, 2013

Stand up and GET TO WORK

More employees stand up for their workplace health

By Diane Stafford

The Kansas City Star

There’s a button under Jeff Schwarz’s desk that he can push if someone absolutely has to have a sit-down meeting in his office.

He taps the button, his desktop lowers, and he pulls his chair from its spot in the corner. But it doesn’t happen often.

Usually, the chief operating officer at the Polsinelli law firm in Kansas City spends his work days on his feet, standing at his desk.

“This works for me,” Schwarz said. “I think better standing. I like walking when I talk, so I always use a headset on the phone. It’s not a calorie perspective. It’s a feel-better thing.”

Across American offices, workers like Schwarz are dumping their sit-down desk chairs in favor of standing desks, treadmill desks and big exercise, or stability, balls. Researchers say the small but growing trend is a very good thing.

Regardless of body type, fitness level or overall state of health, it’s hard on human health to sit all day, repeated studies indicate.

A human nutrition professor at Kansas State University recently used data from a long-term health study of Australian men to show a strong correlation between longer daily hours spent sitting and more chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

The more people sat, the greater their health risks, according to Richard Rosenkranz’s study.

Another study found a link between colon cancer and long periods of sitting.

The link is relevant to more than just couch potatoes. Desk-bound office workers, truck drivers and others who sit for many of their waking hours need to move around more, experts say.

Nikki Raedeke, director of the dietetics program in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri, takes the advice to heart. As of Thursday, she’d walked 563 miles this year _ all while working at her treadmill desk on campus.

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