Sitting down can cause long term damage to your health
A study of Australian office workers in the journal Human Factors in 2009 found that people perform best at computer tasks when sitting. Standing reduced their work-rate slightly — while walking around while working had an even worse impact.
Asking staff to swap their chairs for stability balls does not help, either. These are designed to make people engage leg and back muscles constantly to stay upright.
One solution may be a treadmill desk – a workspace unit with a computer built on to the frame of a treadmill.
However, a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene this year found that while 200 office workers who sat on stability balls for three months cut their levels of lower back pain by more than half, more than 45 per cent of staff reported that the balls had caused significant pain elsewhere with regular use.
Many people in the Far East feel comfortable in a squatting position with heels on the ground. But despite promising research on this in the Fifties by American academic Gordon Hewes, no one has seriously followed up the idea for say, office work or watching TV.
The problem for most Westerners is that years sitting in chairs or wearing high heels mean our Achilles tendons are not stretched long enough to put our heels flat on the ground when in a squat.
One bizarre solution may be a treadmill desk — a workspace unit with a computer built on to the frame of a treadmill. The belt on a standard model goes up to 4mph, though most users find 1-2mph works best, meaning they cover up to 40 miles a week.