Study after study has told us how bad it is to spend our workdays sitting. New research indicates standing may be problematic, too. A press release on the study, published in Human Factors last month, notes that almost half the planet's workers have jobs that require them to stand for at least 75% of their shift. To gauge what effects this has, researchers from Switzerland and Michigan had young adults (18 to 30) and an older group (over 50) "simulate" five hours of standing work. They were permitted to take a 30-minute lunch and five-minute seated breaks. While short-term issues like fatigue, leg cramps, and backaches can result, the paper's title—"Long-Term Muscle Fatigue After Standing Work"—indicates the study's focus: the long-term fatigue effects on the lower limbs.
The 26 participants had their muscle fatigue quantified using "electrically induced muscle twitches (muscle twitch force [MTF]), postural stability, and subjective evaluation of discomfort," per the study. The researchers write that "MTF showed a significant fatigue effect after standing work," and that the effect continued for at least 30 minutes after work was completed. Age and gender were found to have no bearing on fatigue. "Long-term fatigue after prolonged standing work may be present without being perceived," says researcher Maria Gabriela Garcia, who says that the results suggest jobs that require extended periods of standing could "contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and back pain." (Also: Don't run too much, because that could be bad for you, too.)