Dr Carl Ramberg, neuroscientist, German Neuroscience Centre Dubai
Dr Carl Ramberg, neuroscientist, German Neuroscience Centre Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: Dr Carl Ramberg, neurologist, German Neuroscience Center, Dubai, offers advice on the debate between sitting and standing work culture.

“Accordng to Alpa Patel, PhD, American Cancer Society strategic director, Cancer Prevention Study 3, “Sitting time research is still in its infancy, and we are trying to understand whether it’s the total amount that you sit or how frequently you break up those bouts of sitting that are related to disease risk. While we continue to learn what is driving this relationship, it’s clear that cutting down on the time you spend sitting is good for your health,’” says Dr Ramberg.

How much is too much standing? That is Individual, he says. “Young, fit guard soldiers may stand for a long time, but even they need to take regular short walks. Older unfit people with diseases may not be able to stand so long. Prolonged standing should be undertaken with caution.

Here are some takeways from the expert:

Standing and working:


1. Reduces risk of weight gain and obesity.

2. Lowers risk of heart disease and cancer (Prolonged sitting is considered to be one of the largest cancer risk factors (mostly colon and breast cancer). Helps lower risk of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

3. Lowers long-term mortality risk and risk of early death.

4. Help ease or reduce chronic back pain, increase energy levels and improve mood.

5. Standing while working boosts productivity.


More tiring, especially for unfit people.

Increased risk of varicose veins.

More strain on the circulatory system and on the legs and feet.

May need to raise the computer screen height to avoid leaning forward.

May give greater wrist extension, increasing the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

How much sitting becomes sedentary?

Sedentary in general means sitting or lying down. Watching more than 2 hours of TV per day is epidemiologically correlated to a shorter life expectancy.

Have the consequences of prolonged sitting at work been sufficiently informed to the public?

No. The focus has mostly been on how many minutes you exercise per day. If you exercise for 30 minutes per day, you are considered an “active person”. But even an “active person” may sit for 15 hours per day.

If you have to be sitting at the workplace, how do you make it a healthy practice?

■ Make sure that the chair, desk and computer is adjusted to you. There is a bigger risk of getting back problems if you have your back bent forward.

■ Take regular breaks every 30 minutes. Taking breaks also improves level of comfort, work performance and reduces the risks of musculoskeletal injuries.

■ Stand to greet a visitor to your workspace

■ Use the stairs

■ Stand during phone calls

■ Walk to your colleagues’ desk instead of phoning or emailing

■ Drink more water - going to the water cooler and toilet will break up sitting time

■ Move your bin away from your desk so you have to get up to put something in it

■ Use headsets or the speaker phone during teleconferences so you can stand

■ Eat your lunch away from your desk

■ Stand at the back of the room during presentations

(- Heart Foundation Australia)


How many calories a 170-pound (77 kilograms) person can burn in an hour?

Standing:186 calories Sitting: 139 calories.

Walking at a moderate pace: 324 calories

Walking briskly: 371 calories