Standing Meetings: The Benefits of Standing Up

Last week we highlighted the benefits from walking meetings. Today, we highlight benefits for those who don’t have the time or space to walk: Standing meetings.

We noted a New York Times piece that “a helpful new study of walking speed and health concludes that the answer seems to be about 100 steps per minute, a number that is probably lower than many of us might expect.”

The conclusion: “A cadence value of ≥100 steps/min in adults appears to be a consistent and reasonable heuristic answer to ’How fast is fast enough?’ during sustained and rhythmic ambulatory behaviour.”

We noted that this rate might be fast for many walking meetings, but it’s useful information for workplace wellness programs.

Now a Workplace Insights report raises a different health topic: Standing meetings. It notes:

“People who stand in meetings may enjoy a number of health benefits, but it can also make them feel self-conscious, anxious about how others perceive them, and disengaged from the meeting.”

“These findings… suggest that efforts to encourage office workers to sit less and move more must acknowledge the realities of the workplace that conspire to keep people chained to their seats.”

“Sitting has been linked to adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of obesity, heart disease, some cancers, and poorer mental health. While some evidence suggests that the harms of sitting can be offset by at least one daily hour of moderate physical activity, this seems an unrealistic target.”

“Most of the UK population fails to meet physical activity recommendations and spends prolonged periods sitting. Office workers, who make up half of the UK workforce, are particularly inactive. Our 2015 study of 164 London workers found that, on workdays, they sat for 10.5 hours of the 16 hours they spent awake.”

As we will note tomorrow, the report highlights many of the benefits — and some concerns to watch for — in holding standing meetings, which can become a useful form of engagement and even program design for a well-run workplace wellness program.

To Avoid Sitting, Standing Meetings Might Do the Trick

We’ve highlighted the benefits of standing meetings — for the times when walking meetings aren’t practical, but one wants to avoid sitting for a long time.

The report comes from Workplace Insights, which states: “People who stand in meetings may enjoy a number of health benefits, but it can also make them feel self-conscious, anxious about how others perceive them, and disengaged from the meeting.”

It continues: “These findings… suggest that efforts to encourage office workers to sit less and move more must acknowledge the realities of the workplace that conspire to keep people chained to their seats.”

The report outlines the benefits — and some concerns to watch for — in holding standing meetings. This becomes important for well-run workplace wellness programs that in terms of engagement and program design. It notes:

  • “Breaking up sitting frequently with periods of standing and associated light activity can have important health benefits.”
  • “Standing burns more calories than sitting and can improve the way our body uses glucose, which could reduce risk of cardiometabolic diseases.”
  • “Standing may also encouragement movement, and so may promote more physical activity at work.”

One issue: Office culture. How can you bring standing meetings to your workplace? The post advises:

  • “Standing in meetings offers the opportunity to sit less and move more. Meetings are a staple of office culture, and standing meetings can be more efficient and shorter.”
  • “Yet, aside from the tech sector, where standing meetings are commonplace, most office workers generally don’t stand in meetings.”
  • “Changing the sitting norm may depend largely on individual employees choosing to stand in workplace settings that are normally seated.”

Still skeptical? Tomorrow we’ll explain how people felt when they joined a meeting and stood. Hint: Many who did not think it would be for them, found out about the benefits of standing meetings.

How to Stay Fit at Work

It turns out that many of us have to work for a living? No longer can that be an excuse for not staying fit.

Nora Tobin, Fitness Contributing Editor for Shape Magazine, offers “Top 5 Moves to Increase Energy and Focus at Work” in the Huffington Post:

“A few minutes of movement can work wonders for your body and mind. You do not have to change into your gym clothes and sweat it out. You don’t even have to lay on a mat. All it takes is a five-minute workout that has been specifically designed to be done at the workplace. There is no equipment required and you will be able to return back to your desk roaring to go.”

So what can you do in five minutes? Tobin lists squats, mini-hops, standing crunches, arm raises and legs-up-the-wall.

Tobin says these exercises can be done during lunch. They likely also could be done other times during the day. As she notes: “Perform each exercise as fast as possible for one minute. If you have 10 minutes, repeat the entire routine.”

38 Ways to Help You Stop Sitting, Start Standing

We’ve reported regularly on the negative effects of sitting. So what are some tips to get folks out of their seats and standing more? A new study has found 38 of them.

Reports the Wall Street Journal: “Scientists also are studying how to induce people to sit less.”

One study titled “How to reduce sitting time? A review of behaviour change strategies used in sedentary behaviour reduction interventions among adults” was recently published in the Health Psychology Review.

The study states: “Sedentary behaviour – i.e., low energy-expending waking behaviour while seated or lying down – is a health risk factor, even when controlling for physical activity. This review sought to describe the behaviour change strategies used within interventions that have sought to reduce sedentary behaviour in adults. Studies were identified through existing literature reviews, a systematic database search, and hand-searches of eligible papers. Interventions were categorised as ‘very promising’, ‘quite promising’, or ‘non-promising’ according to observed behaviour changes.”

In terms of results, the study found 38 “interventions,” or ways to help change behavior: ” Twenty-six eligible studies reported thirty-eight interventions, of which twenty (53%) were worksite-based. Fifteen interventions (39%) were very promising, eight quite promising (21%), and fifteen non-promising (39%).”

The WSJ reports that Benjamin Gardner, senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College in London and first author of the article stated that: “Among those that worked: educating people about the benefits of less sitting time; restructuring work environments, such as adding standing or adjustable desks; setting goals for the amount of time spent sitting; recording sitting times; and creating cues or alerts for people when they need to stand.”

Additionally, the study reports:

  • “Very or quite promising interventions tended to have targeted sedentary behaviour instead of physical activity.”
  • “Interventions based on environmental restructuring, persuasion, or education were most promising.”
  • “Self-monitoring, problem solving, and restructuring the social or physical environment were particularly promising behaviour change techniques.”
  • “Future sedentary reduction interventions might most fruitfully incorporate environmental modification and self-regulatory skills training.”

Videos: Stand More, Sit Less

As we continue our reporting on the ills of sitting too much at work — and the ways to help change behavior — two videos that help inspire and tell the story.

The first is from, which states: “In our modern sedentary culture we sit way too much. That’s what we learn learn day after day in the news.

But research also highlights the obvious remedy: standing!”

The second is a TED talk by Nilofer Merchant, a “business innovator [who] thinks deeply about the frameworks, strategies and cultural values of companies.” 

You can watch the video here.

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More Ideas to Stand More at Work

We remained intrigued from a recent post that citied a study that identified 38 ways (“interventions”) to help folks stop sitting and start standing more at work.

So we sought more ideas.
Cornell University’s Ergonomics team “presents information from research studies and class work by students and faculty in  the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group (CHFERG).” They focus on “Human-Centered Design” and “ways to enhance usability by improving the ergonomic design of hardware, software, and workplaces, to enhance people’s comfort, performance and health in an approach we call  Ergotecture.  We recognize that this is also as an important component of the Department’s Ecotecture sustainable design approach.”
Some ideas CUErgo offers:
  • “Sit to do computer work.”
  • “Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 8 minutes AND MOVE for 2 minutes.”
  • “The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and stand and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient.”
  • “Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. And movement is FREE!
  • “Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient.”
  • “So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).”

For more inspiration, check out the TED poster below: