I remember watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child and most frightening image that has stayed with me throughout my years from that movie is that of the net wielding child catcher.
Well I hate to write it but ...he's back! ...and this time his lollipops and treacle tarts are facebook likes and fortnite loot crates. His net has grown bigger into a world wide web to snare you with and some of the largest corporations in the world are sponsoring him. How can he possibly lose?
Children are spending more time online than ever before. According to research, 86 per cent of school children now have their own phone, and that includes 28 per cent of eight- to 11-year-olds.
Video game systems sit under the majority of kids televisions. Over 70% of US school kids have a TV in their room. The culture shift towards technology has happened and our children are growing up within this unchartered territory. The question is how we help them navigate it in the face of exploitative video game and social companies who opportunistically create persuasive technology to keep our children online even longer so their user data can be harnessed and sold or their habits reformed to become paid for loot box opening machines.
The field of creating inescapable technology is called “Captology” its right there in the name. Captives. Don't climb into the back of the cart kids. It's a trap.
The World Health Organisation now recognises “gaming disorder.” An addiction which has downsides like any other that left untreated can have legitimate negative impacts. Now in a climate where this is recognised albeit somewhat controversially as a real issue, should we really allow companies such as Bungie the creators of AAA video game "Destiny" an online looter shooter which crosses over the most addictive genres of video games (FPS and MMORPG) to employ the services of addiction consultants to integrate systems and processes into their games which will keep the player online with the promise of more powerful gear for repeated playing on a daily basis.
Some addiction experts have suggested that video gaming is more addictive than cocaine or heroin due to the reward systems they utilise. Meanwhile games such as Rocket League and Anthem give you additional rewards in the form of virtual currency or XP (Experience Points) for playing with your friends on a regular basis. Season passes are now geared towards developing the player into a repeat visitor to the game to reap the greatest rewards and they're not shy about using social pressure to do it. "Come on Joe! If you complete this mission with me the clan bonus should give me enough XP to buy the new gun that’s only on sale until midnight"
Gamers and social media users are often finding themselves demonstrating compulsive behaviours. A need to get back online, mental health and social relationships deteriorating due to obsessive behaviours. Children afflicted by gaming addiction can now seek treatment on the NHS. Children are being hospitalised as a result of this newly identified disorder meanwhile the company behind Fortnite in one month alone last year made $296 million across all their platforms as a result of micro transactions and downloadable content provision. Starkly contrasted outcomes from provider to user. Uncanny that a term often thrown around when discussing substance abuse is what game designers often call the gamer.
Social media companies have gone to town including push notifications to mobile devices. The universally understood like systems in their platforms giving users the constant approval and validation that their every thought has been well received by their peers.
In the UK Chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies has warned social media companies to reduce addictive technology or face new laws to ensure they do so with costly fines for failing to meet the targets. The Financial Times says they expect legislature to come into play as early as this year to force companies such as Facebook to stop using the Like system to nudge people back onto their platform over and over again throughout the day.
In the US the government is working towards minimising "Dark Patterns" of app and website user interfaces designed to trick users into to doing things they dont want to do. This could be giving up their data, disallow users to leave a service by creating a roach motel which makes it impossible to find an exit to a service or a subscribed marketing email or tricking you into subscribing to a paid service or giving up your friends contact information. Check out this excellent video to better understand dark patterns.
Also under fire are advertisers who intentionally target vulnerable groups such as children with their marketing. In the UK We recently reported that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has called for stricter rules in place for junk food companies to tame their child focused marketing including the banning of friendly characters to advertise junk food and pushing back junk food advertising after a 9pm watershed.
Well, the government is trying to play catch up with the changing face of the internet and the negative impact on child mental health this entails. 1 in 10 children now have mental health problems. Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Centre for Humane Technology says “A system wide rethinking of technology policy and design is in order”
In the UK the Chief Medical Officers say we need to ban screens at meal and sleep times. Understandable advice when you consider that the light emit from screens proactively stops the body from falling asleep.
Critics of the new laws cite issues around 'state control' and governmental intervention being a quick road to internet censorship. One Financial Times reader commented "I see little evidence that parents are equipped or able to exert positive influence on their children's habits. The evidence is that the parents are as addicted, as unaware and as unconscious when it comes to use of Internet connected media."
Videogames and social media platforms are at their most addictive. They have been designed that way. Snapchat offer streaks for using unique emoji’s day after day, games such as Fortnite are now considered to be topping the lists of most addictive games according to experts yet it's designed to target children with comical graphics and easy to replicate dances and poses. Numerous young children play the game obsessively.
There are now Fortnite dance classes popping up to get kids moving by teaching them all the in game moves. (Fun idea right!) I overheard two kids quizzing each other on what level they had achieved only yesterday. Why do they care? Because that’s how success is measured in online games now.
Games used to be a case of if you completed it then you had done the most successful thing you could do within the game. However this is a long obliterated concept now as games have been intentionally created and having no finish line. The finish line is perpetually pushed back in order to keep the player on the hamster wheel a little longer.
This is known as "The Grind". Video games want you to play them all year, every day. Social media platforms reach out to you and nudge you incessantly if you let them. (Change your notification settings to stop the nagging!)
If Facebook were a person you'd have ghosted them long ago for being way too clingy and giving you no space. Now we carry around this virtual assistant we call a phone and it taps us up over and over again and many of us happily allow it because the gratification we get from a like is inexplicably addictive.
Kids are less disciplined than us adults. The new legislation may be regarded as too little too late but it is this writer’s opinion that is essential for the future state of this generation’s mental health.
According to research by Common Sense an advocacy group for reducing online time 98% of kids under the age of 8 have access to a mobile phone. Other studies show us that 66% of people are addicted to their device and get anxious without it. The notion of unplugging is filling today’s adults with dread. I can only imagine the impact on the next generation if we allow the furtherance of the captive technology to run wild throughout our digital playgrounds. Parents can check out these helpful resources to combat captive technology and keep the child catcher at bay.
ASK ABOUT GAMES
Should 2 Year Olds Be Measured To Red Flag Childhood Obesity?
The Mail online seems to think so. Following conversations with Manchester Uni researchers who have determined that you may be able to see early warning signs of childhood and possible future adult obesity from as early as two years old.
Research has shown us that if children are overweight at primary age they are more likely to be overweight adults. As part of the National Child Measurement Programme, children are weighed and measured at school in reception and year 6. The information is used by the NHS to plan and provide better health services for children.
New independent research undertaken at the University of Manchester and published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventive Medicine Reports explains there is a connection with early growth patterns and the likelihood of later life obesity. Following an interview with the researchers the Mail Online has produced an article stating that children should be weighed from age 2 in order to try and predict those with possible future obesity risk. The researchers stating that only collecting the data twice during schooling allows for at risk children to be missed.
The researchers harnessed results from over 1000 other studies from all around the world and collated the results to extrapolate their findings. The sheer breadth of the subject studies means it's difficult to specific how applicable the results are just for the UK school kids however the study does seem to illustrate clearly that early growth patterns can be used as a clear red flag for later life obesity and this information should potentially be built into our early assessment and preventative NHS model being touted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
( We wrote about this here NHS To Embrace Preventative Innovations to Prevent Illness and here Prevention is better than Cure - New Report Published by NHS )
“Right now, the obesity epidemic is probably the worst it’s ever been,” says Daniel Ganjian, MD, paediatric obesity specialist.
Public Health England has produced slides to illustrate the childhood obesity data updated in June 2017.
Research has shown that integrating standing desks into classrooms reduce the students BMI in just a year. With the childhood obesity crisis hitting record breaking highs, is it time to start asking your school what they are doing to combat the issue? If your a conscientious head teacher / teacher and want to start making moves to improving physical literacy in your classroom by including standing desk stations you can utilise your sports premium to access funds.
Schools wishing to try before you buy can trial standing desks for students by visiting this short form and getting in touch.
To calculate your child’s BMI there are online apps and resources available such as this one.
The Telegraphs Max Lowery Author of the 2 Meal Day provided his audience this week with a video illustrating 6 super stretches designed to combat the inactivity and strain one can feel from extensive sitting in the workplace.
As many of our blogs are designed to show you, there are innumerate ill health conditions associated with sitting for 7 to 12 hours a day and Max's stretches and workplace tips are just one way you can aim to counteract that.
As I have explained in previous blogs, the act of standing at a desk itself does very little more to keep your body healthy, than the act of sitting all day if the said standing is fixed and equally immobile. Our standing desks do however help the owner build a culture of movement into their lives whilst battling several posture and alertness problems at the same time. They help users to integrate more movement and benefit from being upright whilst feeling generally healthier and happier. Standing encourages you to take small walking breaks and small stretching breaks all can help fight the demon in the room. Inactivity.
Here's Max's video and his website in which he explains his strategy to combat the sedentary lifestyle and offers constructive tips such as taking your trainers to work so you can throw some running into your commute home.
Max writes for the Telegraph, is the author of 2mealday which promotes intermittent fasting and has social links here:
Max writes on his website; "Following these simple steps over time can have a profound effect on your overall flexibility, mobility and quality of life. Small changes over time reap long lasting benefits."
You may also want to read: 70,000 Deaths A Year Caused by Sitting
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health claimed their figures were conservative when they put a figure of £700,000 a year cost to the NHS attributed to the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle. The new research explains 70,000 deaths a year are linked to negative impacts of sedentary behaviour. In short; sitting is killing you.
The researchers recommended measures be taken to reduce inactivity in order to reduce the strain on the NHS resources and improve population health.
Sitting for long periods does contribute to the likelihood that you will become obese (which itself reportedly costs the NHS 6 Billion and causes 30K deaths every year ) but importantly they report the act of sitting has an impact on the body at a physiological level.
When we sit for long periods our body's response to insulin becomes less effective. Insulin mops up excess sugar in the blood and failure of this to work leads to risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sitting increases our risk of heart disease as the ratio of of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol tips towards the negative with extensive sitting.
A study published last year showed a shocking 70% increase in risk of colorectal cancer for people who sit for two hours a day watching TV.
Dr Mike Brannan, national lead for physical activity at Public Health England says: ‘Even if you are physically active, sitting for long periods of time damages your health and greatly increases your risks of a broad range of health conditions.’
The reality is that if sitting were a product it would come with dire health warnings and be subject to punitive fines. The negative impact is far reaching and can't be countered by bouts of exercise alone. Instead regular breaks from sitting are essential and getting in the the habit of movement can be helped by embracing the standing desk culture.
In fact schools have started trialling standing desks and have found an increase in productivity and increased engagement. An 8 school trial at primary level found ‘Teachers reported the standing desks improved the children’s concentration and improved behaviour,’ says Dr Clemes. ‘But the biggest promising effect was the improvement it had on reading scores.’
‘We know from studies that children who sit a lot are likely to become adults who sit a lot and our thinking is if we can get in early and change their mindset these children will be less likely to be so sedentary’
If your school wants to trial standing desks for kids you can visit our trial page and sign up in just 60 seconds.
You may also want to read: Sitting Is Deadly For Students & Guidance from the NHS: Health matters: obesity and the food environment
It seems the government is backing up its claims that preventative medicine and mental health are now a priority. Following pressure to vastly improve our country’s safeguarding of vulnerable groups now by September 2020 school children as young as 4 years old will be taught compulsory lessons about the importance of sleep, looking after their own mental health, relationships and going outside. The new lessons will be part of the broader revised curriculum which will also cover for secondary school pupils, the dangers of sexting, spotting anxiety amongst their friends and the importance of staying safe on the internet.
They will be taught about nutrition, staying active and the link between mental and physical health. And that online time shouldn’t replace playing outside.
"So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate...Almost 20 years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on."
"It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally.”
Education Secretary Damian Hinds
The is a notable rise in sleep disorders often attributed to night time screen time which has recently been advised against by the UK’s chief medical officers to be curtailed.
Researchers announced in a British Medical Journal study that sleep deprivation is a serious issue likely to cause more impact on a child’s well-being than bullying, physical activity and screen time. You can read about the study here.
In the meantime for teachers who want to get ahead of the game, in January the PSHE published sleep factor lesson plans which are available to download here: The free to download lesson plans teach children to;
• recognise what good quality sleep is and why it is important
• identify habits and routines that promote good quality sleep
• understand how sleep patterns change during adolescence
The new plans for sex and lifestyle based education has however received some criticism and after a 106,000 signatures have been gathered the issue of parents wanting the right to opt out their children will now be debated in parliament next Monday. It is worth noting that Parents will still have the right to withdraw their child up to age 15 although headteachers will be encouraged to discuss with parents the potential negatives of withdrawing their child, so it seems there will be pressure imposed to include your child.
“We believe that these changes are absolutely essential in creating an educated and self-aware generation next. In schools the teaching of physical literacy is malnourished and needs improvement …this is certainly a welcome step in letting children take some ownership through understanding their own health and it's importance.
"I know that Education Secretary Hinds said £6 million would be made available to cover training and resources, hopefully the initiative and the funding allowance will be built upon if the government genuinely expects any sweeping changes in outcomes.
"We work with over a hundred schools on improving their flexible seating options to enhance their pupils development from this we know first hand that even small changes can have a tremendous impact.”
Nick White, Eiger Standing Desks / iwantastandingdesk.com
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JAMA Paediatrics has published a study which explains that half the population of USA children have a mental health disorder and only half of those get treatment.
In 2016 a US wide survey was given to parents of children and teens of 46.6 million children aged 6 to 18, 7.7 million had at least one mental condition such as depression, anxiety or ADHD and only half of these were receiving treatment within the last 12 months.
Interestingly the numbers from state to state across the broad US varied wildly suggesting external factors have an influence over mental health in young people. The children of Hawaii for example only 7.6% had one of the conditions compared to Maine where over a quarter of the kids had one or more.
The Author of the study Mark Peterson professor at University of Michigan Medicine said the high numbers of mental illness and how many go untreated was unexpected.
The low treatment numbers are attributed to a lack of mental health services, poor insurance coverage and a stigma attached to mental health conditions meaning that parents were averse to putting their children into support services.
"Untreated mental illness in children pose grave consequences to our communities, including high rates of suicide, academic decline and unemployment" - Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio
Our Take on This…
Physical literacy is a malnourished area of our children’s care. More needs to be done to ensure that our children are in the best possible state with their mental health as we wrote earlier in the week, getting exercise and vitamin D is a hugely important aspect to that.
The UK is just starting to raise how we tackle mental health in children. 9 local authorities in the UK have this week each received a share of £650,000 to pilot a program designed to improve the way children and young people’s mental health needs are met as they enter care.
Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for the Children and Young People’s Service, said: "We listened to young people when they asked us to help support their mental health needs. Being part of this project is a great opportunity to ensure each child gets help that is right for them, at the right time. As we roll out this pilot, we will continue to listen to young people every step of the way.”
This week UK doctors have also urged parents to reduce the amount of screen time we allow our children as this is directly linked to the growth of adverse mental health conditions noted in the survey.
More screens mean less movement. Our children lifespans are 5 years shorter than our own because we have allowed a landscape of inactivity to develop and this needs to be countered at the earliest ages. It has been proven that active children become active adults and physical activity leads to better educational results and children with less mental and physical health disorders. We work with schools to implement flexible seating plans integrating standing desks into schools and the feedback we receive reinforces our belief that standing desks in schools are an essential part of an overall solution.
If your school wishes to trial standing desks then you can request a trial here.
The Telegraph are campaigning to create a 'duty of care' campaign which suggests that government enforce a rule-set for social media and gaming / internet companies to ensure the web is a safe place for our children in the face of the booming tech landscape they are growing up within.
They reported on Thursday that all four medical officers in the UK have made recommendations that screen time be monitored and reduced following a study that links screen time with depression in young people. The study has failed to prove a causal link however it shows a doubling in depressive symptoms for heavy social media users.
Chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies has warned social media companies to reduce addictive technology or face new laws to ensure they do so with costly fines for failing to meet the targets. Davies spoke as she made the first official announcement of proposed guidelines for parents to ensure their children don't overuse tech in a harmful way. She suggests tracking features within devices should be used by parents to ensure there are limits set on screen time.
Dame Sally said: “Technology is an unavoidable aspect of modern life and technology companies have a duty of care. They must make more effort to keep their users safe from harm, particularly children and young people.”
Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary has met with leaders from Facebook, Instagram and Google to urge them to remove harmful images which might glorify self-harm or bullying.
“We are masters of our own fate as a nation and we can and must legislate to make sure this amazing technology is used for good if social media companies won’t work with us,” wrote Hancock.
Guidance suggests limiting children’s screen time to 2 hours, screen free mealtimes and bedtimes. The last point being reinforced by the fact that the light from screens stops the production of the hormone melatonin, which is vital for getting to sleep.
The advice suggests these 7 pointers;
- Leave phones outside the bedroom when it is bedtime.
- Talk about sharing photos and information online and how photos and words are sometimes manipulated. Parents and carers should never assume that children are happy for their photos to be shared. For everyone - when in doubt, don’t upload.
- Make sure you and your children are aware of, and abide by, their school’s policy on screen time.
- Keep moving! Everyone should take a break after a couple of hours sitting or lying down using a screen. It’s good to get up and move about a bit.
- Advise children to put their screens away while crossing the road or doing an activity that needs their full attention.
- Talk with your children about using screens and what they are watching. A change in behaviour can be a sign they are distressed - make sure they know they can always speak to you or another responsible adult if they feel uncomfortable with screen or social media use.
- Screen-free meal times are a good idea - you can enjoy face-to-face conversation, with adults giving their full attention to children.
What's Our Take On This?
It seems obvious to me as a parent that we shouldn't let our children spend their lives with their heads inside phone iPad and computer screens however it’s a habit we can all easily allow our family’s to slip into. The digital babysitter has rescued my sanity on more than one occasion and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
But the facts about depressive symptoms genuinely worry me as a parent. The telegraph wrote quite a moving account of a young girl who took her own life and the last thing she did was log into Instagram. Whatever was the last straw for her was on social media and this alone is enough to make me start to consider the content my kids are engaging with (and for how long) and more importantly to get off their bottoms and move more instead of sitting down and playing video games or with phones and devices.
There’s no getting away from the fact that we are rarely moving when we are on social media which might be a contributing factor to the high depressive symptoms with heavy social media users as their bodies aren’t getting the natural positive chemicals associated with exercise and sunlight such as serotonin, oxygen and vitamin D known as 'the sunshine vitamin'. I’ve said it before and I'll say it again. We are designed to move. Standing desks whilst they will rarely get us outside they do allow us to get busy with what we want to orientate on but also encourage us to move and stay physical...and the thing about moving is it's habit forming. Get used to moving and you wont want to sit down which will lead to a more active, happier lifestyle overall.
The guidelines above suggest regular breaks from sitting but many people say it feels more natural to get up and get moving than slouching all day which only makes us feel tired and lethargic.
Our standing desks are designed to work for all age groups and can be with you through your life with different desks in our range being for different age groups. We have Eiger Pro Desks for adults and Classroom Standing Desks such as the Eiger Student for kids as young as primary school age.
If you want to talk to us about the best solution for your school or home then get in touch through the site or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter but don't stay on there for too long ...obviously.
The Last Word
The new guidelines seem like a a long overdue measure. Tech companies proactively hire addiction consultants to make their games and experiences more addictive and our children are growing up with phones glued to their hands and are now being officially diagnosed as addicts. The personal gadget landscape could well have damaging long term affects and its important that we combat this now. Its essential that corporate's are held accountable for the long term affects of their nefarious tactics and that our government finally demonstrate they consider our children's mental health a priority.
You may also want to read: Health Report Links Children's Screen-Time To 12 Major Cancers
SUMMARY: MacDonalds are being delivered to schools despite the anti-obesity ban amid the backdrop of a Birmingham Child Type 2 Diabetes epidemic undermining headmasters efforts to inject healthy culture into schools. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Three Doctors have been quoted in the media this week. Here's why.
Do you own a standing desk ? Do you run? if you answered yes to both of these questions then using time at your desk practising balancing on one leg is just what the doctor ordered.
Dr Mark Cucuzzella is a running expert and a professor of family medicine in West Virginia. Amongst the myriad of "new year, new you" articles hitting the internet this January sits a nice little tip from the good doctor. He suggests runners should concern themselves with establishing and improving their balance and if you run and use a standing desk, you can use specific times in the day as a prompt for you to stand on one foot to develop and improve your centre of balance. This could be when you answer your emails or some other habitual moment that’s memorable and suitable for you.
Now why does this matter? well balance plays a huge role in running and — “because running is a series of jumps where you have to land on one foot, stick that landing and get off the ground,” Cucuzzella says it’s all about staying safe and injury free on the road or track. His article has a series of tips for runners to get active and stay healthy in world where technology is increasingly designed to keep us in chairs.
“Just spend as much time as you can on one foot trying to master that balance and never lose it,”
The act of balancing on one foot takes stress off each leg and initiates a degree of movement as anyone who follows this blog already knows we actively encourage this in order to get benefit from your standing desk. We feel this tip can work for all you standing desk users to keep those micro movements up which will help maintain good circulation and better calorie burning benefits from standing. Remember standing still all day is almost as bad for you as sitting still all day.
Secondly a well written article on the Independent also includes another UK medical practitioner, TV Doctor Mark Rowe providing a series of life changing tips including investing in a standing desk as part of a new year healthy regime to keep movement up and vary your working position - read their piece on getting active in 2019 here on their Life Health and Well-being blog.
Lastly Dr Vegar Rangu a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has had some disconcerting results to their study of cancer rates among 38,000 adults over a 16 year period, and found that those who reported sitting for long periods each day were 20% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who spend more of the day on their feet. You read more about their research here on the Metro.
Studies have previously linked long sitting periods with increased rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer and premature death but this one specifically shows a link to an increase in prostate cancer.
‘The main findings were that prolonged sitting time is independently associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer while moderate to high leisure-time physical activity may reduce the risk of specific cancer types, particularly colorectal and lung cancer,’ says Dr Rangul.
‘we noted that moderate physical activity significantly decreased the risk – the findings emphasising the importance of reducing sitting time and increasing physical activity.’
With 2019 barrelling down upon us and those post-Christmas dinner waistlines stretching it’s that time of year when many of us start to think about how we might tackle our healthy habits for the upcoming year. Now as research illustrates Gyms aren't cutting it, as 9 out of 10 people who buy into a yearly gym membership will quit after only 6 weeks and with new NHS guidelines recommending standing meetings to tackle the growing obesity problem affecting our nation its time to consider working up those new year’s resolutions.
If you are making some firm plans to integrate standing and movement into next year’s plan for a healthier body then you might want to bookmark the 26th April.
“On your feet day” which is a national day when workers across Britain participate in a variety of fun activities to sit less and move more. Is free to sign up (which you can do here.) and offers suggestions getting everyone involved in fun and simple ways;
• Stand during phone calls
• Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes
• Use the stairs
• Have standing or walking meetings
• Eat your lunch away from your desk
• Walk to your colleague's desk instead of phoning or emailing them
• Stand at the back of the room during presentations
The national standing challenge day website offers a challenge page with ideas on how to take part, including the creation of teams and fun challenges. Once signed up you can download posters, guidelines and information from March 2019.
We urge you to get involved, sign up, book the day in your diary and join 2 million other people championing standing in the workplace this New Year. Official website is www.onyourfeetday.com
A video released three days ago by YouTube channel 'Med School Insiders' titled - "Standing Desks More Harm Than Good?" Asks the question does the research on standing desks stack up.
The video author reviews over two dozen research papers in his research and offers a balanced an objective opinion weighing up the pro's and cons of using a standing desk versus sitting. He has used a standing desk for 5 years and speaks excellently on the subject.
The reality is that research is wildly under nourished on the subject, most research studies are retrospective and it's hard to determine exact physiological benefits to just using a standing desk alone. However as the video producer finds there are very real, demonstrable benefits to including a standing desk in your overall health plan and suggests integrating movement into your day to offset the negative side-effects of prolonged standing or sitting. Watch the video. it's fair, easy to watch and could help you decide if standing desks are for you.
The Guardian have published a lengthy first person account of one writer’s lifetime struggle with back pain. The editorial in their ongoing “the long read” blog details writer Maggie O’Farrell’s reflections on living with chronic pain from spinal injury for many years.
An excerpt on Maggie’s life changing back pain;
“Don’t get me wrong: I consider myself to be an extremely lucky person. The doctors first said that I would die; when I didn’t, they said I wouldn’t walk again. To have recovered, to have found a loophole out of one of these destinies, let alone both, strikes me as the very best fortune a person could ever have.”
You can read Maggie's full editorial here.
Now we understand Maggie’s back pain is a result of injury and her telling of it brings to light one primary fact for us here at I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog. That fact is that back pain IS HORRIFIC to live with. Readers of Spine-Health.com voted back pain as being more painful that childbirth.
Now we can’t make every floor not slippery and we can’t wave a magic want to eliminate back pain from injury in fact the elderly have shown us that most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. However we can suggest to you that some of you are getting back pain from sitting way too much. We know many of you sit for 9 and half hours a day. In the UK alone back pain is the single most common cause of lost working days, with the costs running into billions of pounds. Each year 2 million people attend their General Practitioners with spinal problems and over 300,000 are referred for specialist care.
Lee Barker who is the principal physiotherapist at Alderbank Physiotherapy, in Grimsargh, near Preston, and was a member of the Olympic Physiotherapy Team 2012 explains here that standing up isn’t just good for your general health it is great for your back. He writes that the body was not designed to sit for such lengthy periods but we need to take the pressure off our vertebrae and reduce strain by standing more.
MD of iwantastandingdesk.com Nick White said “back problems are life stoppers (short and long term). Why wait to start looking after your lower back until you have a problem? People need to spend less time in the chair and more time stood correctly to feel the benefits immediately.”
Business insider writer Mathew DeBord this week has written about his change to a standing desk after a lifetime of sitting. He fashioned a home-made standing desk to test the process before he opts for a better more rigid solution. Now we see these all the time on social media, these are the modern equivalent of the breeze block bookshelf. However even with a modest setup the benefits were convincing for Mathew.
Mathews make-shift standing desk. Read Mathews full account here.
He writes about how using an Apple watch he is able to keep ahead of his standing reminders which new research has shown can add two years to your life expectancy.
“It's been a few months and I haven't looked back.”
Abraham The Pharmacist has created a video after using the Eiger standing desk
If you see an interesting account of someone talking, writing about or solving their problems with a standing desk please tweet it to us at @standingdeskuk
Sport England has called for a focus on children’s health after they conducted a world leading 130,000 participant survey into the activity levels of children and young people. The survey is the largest ever of its kind and contains results that detail how 2.3 million children do less than 30 minutes of activity each day.
The chief medical officer recommends at least 60 minutes of exercise a day for young people, the World Health Organisations recommends that at least 3 days a week that activity should be aerobic.
Chief Executive of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth said
“I am calling for a national focus on the health and wellbeing of our nation’s children and for the whole system to be united in delivering change. Our children deserve better and Sport England is determined to play its part,”
“Parents, schools, the sport and leisure industry and government all have a role to play in addressing and increasing childhood activity. This research is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a big wake-up call for all of us."
Meanwhile another survey of 2000 parents has demonstrated that mobile phones are edging out bikes, skateboards and roller-blades on children’s Christmas lists. Staggeringly 1 in 10 of the parents admit their children don’t even leave the house for a week at Christmas.
Whilse 3 in 10 youngsters get less than 30 minutes or less of fresh air daily, they get 3 hours of television and two and half hours on iPad, phones and computer games.
Tech is anchoring our children down and too many of them are not doing enough exercise or activity to keep them healthy. The World Cancer Research Fund recently detailed how their report demonstrated a link to 12 major cancers from increased screen time in children.
Jack Shakespeare of UKactive Kids said "movement has stripped out of our children’s lives with 'generation inactive' fed a staple diet of sofa play and screen time...It is vital for the health and happiness of this generation that we find ways to get children active."
Public Health England's head of diet, obesity and physical activity, Dr Alison Tedstone, added: “Physical activity is crucial for good physical and mental health of children and young people - this work is a timely reminder for everyone to do more to help them be more active.”
Nick White, MD of UK Standing Desk Manufacturer iwantastandingdesk.com said "Kids are becoming ever more sedentary and inactive, it makes sense to get them more active in the classroom and create a positive behaviour pattern to take into adulthood...entire schools in the US are becoming all standing with a view to seeding a culture of good health. This can only lead to happier, healthier children."
Given the recent reports that children’s lifespans are estimated to be 5 years shorter due to sedentary habits. The Sport England Survey encouragingly does demonstrate that 3 million children are getting enough activity, exceeding 60 mins a day but the Sports Minister Mims Davies says "the number of young people who are not doing enough is simply unacceptable...we must build a comprehensive and cross Government offer to create a truly active nation."
The biggest takeaway from the survey available here is that children benefit from activity. Their general happiness increases. Their mental health improves and as our recent report detailed they outperform inactive children. We owe it to all our children to raise the bar and get the UK up to speed when it comes to activity at home and in the class room.
Eiger Standing Desk School Trials Are Available Here
Participants for whom the watch was paired with a reward scheme were measured against those on a reward scheme with no watch and results showed the volunteers who wore the watch had 4.8 extra days of activity per month, which they said translates into two extra years of life.
Rand Europe who undertook the largest ever behavioural technology study found that at risk overweight and inactive groups were more likely to demonstrate greater improvements from the process and the average participant would increase their activity by a whopping 34% when using the watch.
Participants who used the watch would pay £12.50 a month if activity targets were not met. Recent research has suggested that losing something is a stronger incentive than gaining a reward and this psychology may also have influenced the study’s findings.
Standing Desk user and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who we recently reported has called upon the NHS to embrace tech as a preventative measure, said "We must stay at the forefront of emerging technologies like digital medicines because their potential is so huge”
Simon Stevens, head of the NHS has urged employers to encourage staff to lose weight with financial bonuses after he lost three stone on such a scheme in the USA. However critics of this have argued that employers are not responsible for subsiding fighting the decline in public health.
The Apple Watch has a stand meter in the activity app that shows hours in which you've stood and moved for at least a minute. Complete your daily Stand goal by standing up and moving around for at least 1 minute during 12 different hours in the day.
Standing Desk UK Blog reported on Matt Hancock’s new tech led health initiatives Last month.
Brace yourselves. Standing Desks are not a miracle elixir with magical cure-all benefits.
The New York Times Aaron Carroll has published an article slating the growing culture of standing desks. Carroll writes that “standing desks have become trendy…research suggests that warnings about sitting at work are overblown, and that standing desks are overrated” This has resulted in a number of spin off articles from lesser known sites extrapolating that standing desks are unnecessary.
In the NYT online, Carroll quickly cites several studies to support his opinion piece including Rempel and Krause (University of California) published work in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from July 2018 which states that there is little evidence to support the notion that standing desks improve cardiovascular health.
The NYT article has a grandiose title and by-line designed to grab you by the collar, pull you close and challenge your preconceptions. The NYT article throws out words such as “over rated.” Whilst Carroll proposes that standing desks are “not cures” and that “standing is not exercise.” Carefully worded statements designed to decimate the growing belief that standing desks are a good thing that benefit your health.
The article is written by a medical professor of Paediatrics. The author Carroll has constructed his argument based on several studies from specialists in occupational health that explain the correlation between long sitting periods and ill health only being bad when it relates to people who are doing that outside of the work environment and there are very few links between workplace sitting and increased mortality. Suggesting rather that the sitting stats are a marker for social influences to ill health such as unemployment.
Interestingly the New York Times would probably like you to forget that in June they produced a less polarising article on the matter of "exercise versus standing" which cited research that illustrated standing is part of the solution rather than a replacement for exercise. They write "you probably need to do both."
MD of iwantastandingdesk.com Nick White explains that common sense, moderation and breaking the sedentary habit is at the core of the health benefit of a standing desk culture.
"You need to take responsibility for yourself, your health and well-being. Nobody is saying that standing desks are a cure for anything. They are however an important part of the solution. If you sit on your bottom all day, eat poorly and don’t exercise your standing desks isn’t going to magically fix that. Take responsibility for your own lifestyle. A standing desk is a part of the solve. Take the stairs. Park your car a little further away from work and walk. Using a standing desk isn’t a cure but it’ll help you rid yourself of an unhealthy mentality. Legitimate research exists that proves standing desks used in moderation and with sitting breaks will benefit your health and productivity in numerous ways as part of an overall solution"
So White doesn’t believe standing desks are a magical cure-all elixir either. Does this mean they are overrated as Carroll writes or as some spin off articles extrapolated …”unnecessary”?
Perhaps the evidence of cardiovascular benefit has yet to be successfully empirically measured however this absolutely does not negate that a huge 800,000 participant study by the UK’s National Health Service found that, compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had a 112 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a 147 per cent increase in cardiovascular problems and a 90 per cent increase in death from heart attack and stroke.
Resultingly the NHS in the UK now promotes standing as being part of an overall prescription for healthier living in order to reduce one of the biggest threats to our national health which is the populations growing sedentary habit.
Writing that standing desks are “not a cure” and “standing isn’t exercise” uses a straw-man notion that argues against a point that no one was making. It is unhealthy thinking, that whilst it might garner traffic like click-bait content it doesn’t contribute to the conversation everyone else is having.
Abram Falk commented “This is a strange and unnecessary attack on a device that many find helpful. Nobody was claiming that standing desks were a miracle health device”
Mike from New York wrote “No one argued that standing was exercise. This entire article is addressing a straw man argument. Standing -- for short periods mixed in with walks and sitting -- engages muscles that otherwise go dormant, improves blood flow, improves focus”
Another upvoted comment reads “I have not found anyone, anywhere who suggested that standing was exercise.”
The world’s greatest athletes advocate for healthy mentality. They believe in the power of positivity. Standing desks encourage that mentality. This can’t be empirically proven but it is broadly recognised as an essential element of success.
“small, positive changes, consistently made are a winning combination in life and in business” - Sally Gunnel the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles. Speaking at a health and well-being seminar she was delivering to businesses.
We live in an age where written pieces must be polarised and there is little room left for common sense. As such we believe impactful influencers such as The New York Times have a responsibility to foster ideas that contribute positively to society. Inactivity is a major health issue. It is the reason our children’s expected lifespans are 5 years shorter now. Taking a position that standing desks are bad because science hasn’t proven the cardiovascular benefits as emphatically as they would like whilst ignoring the myriad of proven health benefits and pro-standing research isn’t offering a balanced take on the movement. It’s getting traffic with controversy. Omitting the pro standing desk research because it doesn’t suit the narrative is unfair to the reader. We felt it was time that someone stood up for standing up. If carrots are suddenly proven not to give you night sight, do you stop eating them as part of a healthy diet? No. We say don’t jack in your jack desks just yet. Include them amongst all your healthy choices.
We all need to change poor habitual stationary behaviour. Standing desks are not a fix-all but they are part of the solution toolkit for combating a sedentary lifestyle.
Want me to prove it? Bookmark the blog. Then stand up. Listen to your body. It’s telling you that this is better. Keep at it and this writer believes you’ll find the results are irrefutable.
Standing desks are available throughout this website. Carrots are available elsewhere.