A new Australian study has found sit-stand desks to be a cost-effective way for employers to improve the health of their workforce.
The Deakin University study was published in the Scandinavian Journal Of Work, Environment And Health, and analysed over 230 office workers. The researches found participating workers achieved an average one hour per day reduction in their sitting time.
The study concluded that if only 20 per cent of the nation’s desk workers adopted a sit-stand desk (and used it), then 7,492 “health-adjusted life years” would be saved through the prevention of obesity-related diseases.
A key aspect of the study was to examine the “economic credentials” of a workplace-delivered intervention to reduce sitting time among workers. The researchers concluded that while the above intervention would cost $185.2m (about $344 per person), it could quickly be reduced through economies of scale ordering and shared workstations. The cost would also be partially offset by the $84.2 million saved in healthcare costs over the lifetime of these workers.
Lead researcher Dr Lan Gao said spending excessive amounts of time sitting at a desk was associated with serious health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There is also evidence that exercise doesn’t overcome the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Dr Gao said getting workers to stand up and move more improved the overall health of the workforce – which was beneficial for employers.
“Adopting this workplace intervention also has the potential to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. The introduction of sit-stand desks, alongside associated supports, is a cost-effective and innovative way to promote the health of Australia’s workforce.”
“Ultimately this intervention has the potential to make a very significant and sustainable positive impact on reducing workplace sitting time, but most importantly it is also cost-effective, which we know is critical in making the case for a wider rollout of this program.”
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said all workplaces could play their part in reducing the amount of time their workers spent sitting down.
“Our lifestyles – including our work life – has become more sedentary leading to a range of health issues. There are a range of strategies workplaces can adopt to help their staff to sit less like sit-stand workstations, walking or standing meetings or simply setting prompts for workers to get up and stretch their legs.”