A detailed description of the short-term musculoskeletal and cognitive effects of prolonged standing for office computer work

Due to concerns about excessive sedentary exposure for office workers, alternate work positions such as standing are being trialled. However, prolonged standing may have health and productivity impacts, which this study assessed. Twenty adult participants undertook two hours of laboratory-based standing computer work to investigate changes in discomfort and cognitive function, along with muscle fatigue, movement, lower limb swelling and mental state. Over time, discomfort increased in all body areas (total body IRR [95% confidence interval]: 1.47[1.36–1.59]). Sustained attention reaction time (β = 18.25[8.00–28.51]) deteriorated, while creative problem solving improved (β = 0.89[0.29–1.49]). There was no change in erector spinae, rectus femoris, biceps femoris or tibialis anterior muscle fatigue; low back angle changed towards less  lordosis, pelvis movement increased, lower limb swelling increased and mental state decreased. Body discomfort was positively correlated with mental state. The observed changes suggest replacing office work sitting with standing should be done with caution.

Source: Baker, R., Coenen, P., Howie, E., Lee, J., Williamson, A. et Straker, L. (2018). Ergonomics.

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