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06 August 2018

Aussie bosses who fork out for standing desks for their workers will be rewarded with fitter, healthier and more productive employees, new research shows.

They’ll also be helping the national economy — and their own bottom line — by reducing the number of obesity-related health problems among office workers.

Results of an Australian-first, Deakin University economic evaluation into sit-stand desks show they are good value for money.

Workers provided with sit-stand desks as part of a 12-month trial led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute reduced their sitting time by an average of an hour a day.

Deakin health economics researcher Dr Lan Gao said too much sitting time was a critical health issue for the 45 per cent of Australian employees who worked at desks, and was associated with serious health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

It was also associated with reduced life expectancy.

“This means it’s imperative we work towards both effective and cost-effective ways to decrease sitting time in the workplace,” Dr Gao said.

Not only that, but from an employer’s perspective, adopting this workplace intervention also has the potential to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity.

“Before the trial, participants spent an average of six hours per day sitting at work, 12 months into the trial that was reduced to five hours. Our evaluation shows that the introduction of sit-stand desks, alongside associated supports, is a cost-effective and innovative way to promote the health of Australia’s workforce.”

Dr Gao said the Deakin University economic evaluation, published today in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, was the first study of its kind and showed sit-stand desks were a sensible investment for Australian workplaces.

“Up until now a barrier to their widespread introduction has been the perceived prohibitive cost,” Dr Gao said.

The Deakin economic evaluation suggested that if 20 per cent of Australia’s office workers were provided with sit-stand desks, it would cost a total of $185.2 million but would save 7492 “health adjusted life years” by preventing a range of obesity-related diseases.

Dr Gao said this equated to a cost of $28,703 per year saved, well below the often quoted threshold of $50,000 that society was typically willing to pay for health savings.

She said the cost would also be partially offset by the $84.2 million saved in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the workers.

Melbourne office worker Alexandra Post said she was convinced working at a sit-stand desk helped her to be more productive.

The recruitment company employee said she had noticed herself becoming drowsy after a few hours of sitting at her desk and becoming less productive.

Standing up and working gave her more energy and focus.

“The extra blood flow helps my concentration I think,” Ms Post said.

Standing at her desk also helped prevent, or alleviate, the back and neck pain she was prone to, she said.

“I am more productive at work because of it, and it has helped my overall health,” Ms Post said.

read original article on the Herald Sun website

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