A detailed description of the short-term musculoskeletal and cognitive effects of prolonged standing for office computer work

Richelle Baker, Pieter Coenen, Erin Howie, Jeremy Lee, Ann Williamson, Leon Straker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Due to concerns about excessive sedentary exposure for office workers, alternate work positions such as standing are being trialled. However, prolonged standing may have health and productivity impacts, which this study assessed. Twenty adult participants undertook two hours of laboratory-based standing computer work to investigate changes in discomfort and cognitive function, along with muscle fatigue, movement, lower limb swelling and mental state. Over time, discomfort increased in all body areas (total body IRR [95% confidence interval]: 1.47[1.36–1.59]). Sustained attention reaction time (β = 18.25[8.00–28.51]) deteriorated, while creative problem solving improved (β = 0.89[0.29–1.49]). There was no change in erector spinae, rectus femoris, biceps femoris or tibialis anterior muscle fatigue; low back angle changed towards less lordosis, pelvis movement increased, lower limb swelling increased and mental state decreased. Body discomfort was positively correlated with mental state. The observed changes suggest replacing office work sitting with standing should be done with caution. Practitioner Summary: Standing is being used to replace sitting by office workers; however, there are health risks associated with prolonged standing. In a laboratory study involving 2 h prolonged standing discomfort increased (all body areas), reaction time and mental state deteriorated while creative problem-solving improved. Prolonged standing should be undertaken with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-890
Number of pages14
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • Human-computer interaction
  • biomechanics
  • mental work capacity
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • office ergonomics

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