March 4, 2015 - Mike Dilke
Over the last couple of days I have been attending the Health & Wellbeing Show at the NEC. It was very busy with many delegates and exhibitors - a flavour of the event is in this short video I made.
The talks in the Human Factors and Ergonomics section culminated in a debate. The topic was broadly the sit v stand discussion and was chaired by Prof. Peter Buckle. Like all the best debates it resulted in a swing of opinion
from the vote taken at the start and the end. Those who were undecided if we should stand more doubled from around 16% top 32% (that is from memory so the figures might be slightly incorrect.)
I won't attempt to analyse the whole debate but I will try and give you some of the comments that struck a chord with me. Katherine Metters of Posturite was keen not to 'demonise sitting' and warned us not to 'replace static sitting with static standing' and suggested we should really be looking at 'movement strategies.'
One questioner asked if we should all switch to MacDonald fast food type chairs that are so uncomfortable you need to move and make space for the next restaurant customer once you have gobbled down your french fries. He thought after now having complicated chairs that support every part of your body that was a little ironic. Part of Katherine's reply was that she 'agrees chairs are far too complicated.' I certainly agree with that and tend to find that if you can adjust everything to the nth degree you end up adjusting nothing or you have chairs in the office with a big 'DO NOT TOUCH' sign after someone has set up the chair to their requirements.
Prof. Buckle noted that during the whole debate everyone, apart form three people, was sitting. Gavin Bradley then stood up to answer this and future points saying that we are pretty much conditioned to sit in many social situations.
Towards the end the panel was asked what areas of future research are needed. All agreed that we were at the start of this research and more was required. Katherine Metters said that work needs to be on 'activity rather than standing' and feels that there can be confusion between the two. Emily Tims left us with the scary thought that our 'daily habits become our biology' and advised us to think about our habits - hence the research she felt that would be most useful would look at many parts of our lives and would be broader than just sitting v. standing.
I am not an academic at all but I certainly enjoyed listening to the debate and am grateful to those who took part.