People sometimes ask, “Why stand when you can sit?”

A year after sit-stand desktops were introduced at The Alliance, I think a better question might be:  “Why sit when you can stand?”

How It Started

Alan Williams using sit-stand deskIn May 2014, The Alliance agreed to buy sit-stand desktops for any employees who wanted to spend more time on their feet while
working at their desks.

Fifteen employees originally opted in. Others tried out or added a sit-stand desktop to their workspace during the year.

One year later, how are these employees doing with their resolve to take a stand for better health?

I’m one of the employees who uses a sit-stand desktop almost daily. I’m also a self-proclaimed “data geek.” So I took a survey
in May 2015 to find out.

Personal Perspective

OK, I’ll share the most important information first. Despite the goal I shared on this blog in 2014, I did not lose weight.

But I still feel like I benefitted from a sit-stand desktop. Standing was an excellent option, especially early mornings and late afternoons.

Sometimes, I even managed to get in a few dance steps. That helps pass the time when waiting for the computer system to perform its part of the “data in, analysis out” routine.

Active Users Like the “Stand” Option

The majority of employees who tried the sit-stand desktop also like the results.

The survey identified that 16 of 48 staff members (employees and long-term consultants) currently use a sit-stand desktop. Survey results among this user group included:

  • 88 percent believe it has made a positive difference in their health.
  • They use their sit-stand desk in the “stand” position to work an average of 1.5 hours per day.
  • They perceive the main benefits of the sit-stand desktop as the ability to change positions throughout the day and the option to stand when they cannot get outside to take a walk. That makes sense in south-central Wisconsin, where walkers may be discouraged by snow, wind, rain or extreme heat or cold.
  • They believe standing more assists in maintaining their current weight. No actual weight loss was mentioned or measured, as that’s a topic better left to the health professionals who run our annual health risk appraisals.

Non-Users’ Opinions

A small group of employees – two out of 16 – did not like using the sit-stand desktop long-term. Both have given up their desktops.

Their reasons for opting out of the sit-stand approach were:

  • The sit-stand equipment takes up too much desktop space.
  • The “stand” option is uncomfortable in dress shoes or high heels.

Their desktops have been given to other interested employees. In addition, new sit-stand desktops were recently purchased in response to requests from six additional staff members. If others
are interested, more desktops will be ordered in the future.

Costs and Considerations

The Alliance uses a sit-stand solution that rests on top of a standard desk and can be easily raised or lowered to sit or stand while working. No electronics or power supply is needed.

Our experience has shown that using a sit-stand desktop can lead to some minor additional costs.

  • A wireless keyboard and mouse is recommended. Alliance employees reported a few cut cables when they lost track of cords.
  • 20 percent of users asked for mats to ease their aching feet when working in the “stand” position.

Working in the “stand” position may also have led to more interruptions for some employees. Some staff noticed that when the desktop was in the “stand” position, colleagues passing by were more likely to stop and talk.

Taking a Stand

Research continues to support the value of getting up and moving during your workday. I’ve included links to a couple of good articles at the end of this post.

For me it all boils down to:

  • Sitting for eight to 10 hours a day is unhealthy.
  • If I want to be healthy, I need to get up from my desk on an hourly basis.
  • Standing is a great alternative to sitting but there is no evidence that shows a reduction in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, inflammation and atherosclerosis.
  • Keep everything in moderation. Remember, standing for eight hours will not eliminate your need for a cardiovascular workout, but it may give you sore feet.

So don’t take inactivity’s impact on your health sitting down. It’s time to take a stand!

Alan Williams

Alan Williams

Health Information Manager at The Alliance
Alan Williams joined The Alliance in 1999 as health information manager. His main responsibilities include database development, programming, and data analytics. Alan generates multiple reports to help analyze membership utilization, disruptions, provider/medical grouping, contract performance, quality measures and market share.

In addition to his work at The Alliance, Alan serves on the Wisconsin Association of Perinatal Care (WAPC): Perinatal Data Committee. He is also involved in the Madison SQL Server Users Group and is a member of the official chapter of the Professional Association for SQL Server.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Alan spent more than nine years at WPS Health Insurance, holding roles in data analyst, training, and supervisory positions.

Alan received his bachelor degree in business administration-marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Read blog posts by Alan.
Alan Williams

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