New research has found that workers who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely to have heart disease than those who mainly sit.
According to Peter Smith, a scientist from the Institute for Work and Health and the study’s lead author, this puts them more at risk of developing the condition than smokers.
“Workplaces have been hearing a lot lately about the health effects of prolonged sitting on the job,” Smith said.
“Our results suggest that workplaces also need to pay attention to the health effects of prolonged standing and target their prevention programs accordingly.”
The study - which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and IWH by researchers at Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences– followed 7,300 in Ontario locals and compared their behaviour on the job.
Each person had to work at least 15 hours a week and initially be free of heart disease to qualify.
Over a 12-year period, 3.4 per cent of those surveyed developed the condition – with 6.6 per cent in positions that mainly involved standing (such as chefs, nurses and bank tellers) and 2.8 per cent in jobs that required them to remain sedentary throughout their shift.
The risk of heart disease was also proven to remain the same even after taking into consideration age, education, health conditions and ethnicity.
“There are a couple of different mechanisms by which prolonged standing can increase your risk of heart disease,” Smith explained.
“One of them is by blood pooling in your legs and the other is by increased venous pressure on your body by trying to pump that blood back up to your heart and that increases oxidative stress.”
“A combination of sitting, standing and moving on the job is likely to have the greatest benefits for heart health.”