Standing Too Long at Work Carries Health Consequences

July 15, 2015

Study shows health risks to long periods of standing.

While much has been made of the health risks associated with long periods of sedentary activity like sitting in workplaces, a new study shows that standing for the majority of the workday could have health consequences as well.

The study, published in Human Factors, shows that the nearly 50% of workers worldwide who stand for more than 75% of the workday may be at risk of health issues such as fatigue, leg cramps, and backaches. These short-term adverse health issues can cause reduced job performance as well put workers at risk for sustained muscle fatigue and serious health issues over time.

The study had participants from two age groups simulate performing standing work for periods of five hours, including brief seated rest periods and a 30-minute lunch. Even when the regular breaks were included, the study found evidence of significant long-term fatigue and that symptoms continued to present at least 30 minutes after a seated recovery period. Additionally, the researchers discovered that workers over the age of 50 were no more likely to experience short- or long-term fatigue than workers aged 18-30.

“Current work schedules for standing work may not be adequate for preventing fatigue accumulation, and this long-lasting muscle fatigue may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and back pain,” says Maria Gabriela Garcia, lead researcher on the study. 

Looking to avoid issues with occupant productivity? Using the WELL Building Standard can ensure your facility is as occupant-friendly as possible. 

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