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Ask an Exercise Physiologist: Type 2 Diabetes and stand up desks

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Wonderful questions this week about ergonomic work setups and arthritis management.

I’ll get to the other questions over the next month on osteoporosis, perimenopause, a safe beginner running program, yoga scheduling and Saturday morning exercise for “single chicks”.

Ask an EP is here to help with all your health and wellness questions and challenges—lifestyle, wellness, pain and health.

Do you have a burning health and wellness question? Now is your chance to ask.

Every fortnight we will pick a couple of questions, and help you solve your burning query. If we share our problems, we are more likely to solve them.

I have my wonderful work colleague, Kayla answering a question this week. Let’s get started:

Hi Kirra,

After decades of office work (sedentary), I have now been using a stand-up desk for about a year.

I find that I stand up almost all day (at least eight hours) without too much trouble but have now heard the stand-up desks are not so good for you.

I find that sitting actually causes me more pain and stiffness now. What is the right balance for desk/computer work and what are the consequences of prolonged standing? Thanks

– Sara, 51

Hello Sara!

Thanks for reaching out. It is easy to get confused when there are lots of mixed messages out there about the correct ergonomic setup.

There are pros and cons for each position, and something will work better for each person. We always go with the motto—‘your best posture is your next posture’; meaning it is important to move regularly to avoid any compensatory stiffness or pain.

Some considerations I would have for your workplace set up:

  • Have you had a workplace assessment before? This allows your equipment to be set up in the most optimal way for you in regard to height, distances and positions for best injury and overuse prevention.
  • Wearing appropriate footwear to avoid any pain in the feet from prolonged standing with a particular focus on the arch position (flat vs lifted).
  • Being aware of how you are standing, making sure you are upright without kyphosis of the upper back (hunching) or prolonged leaning on one side putting extra pressure on the joints of one side.
  • Whichever option you choose; I would recommend adding in a set of stretches throughout your day or regular walks (even up and down the hallway) so the body isn’t in one position for too long. You can find some of our favourite desk-based stretches here.

Ultimately, I think you need to take the option that suits your body best. It sounds like you tolerate the full day in standing better than sitting so that is what I would recommend (unless you have the option to interchange between both positions).

Your best posture IS your next posture!

Take care,


Dear Kirra,

I have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My doctor told me to lose weight, however, after over 40 years of being overweight, it’s hard to start.

What are your lifestyle tips to manage my condition?

– Elle, 58

Hi Elle,

My first thought is to start constructing a team of allied health professionals to support you, which will help encourage you to take responsibility of your care.

A Dietician, Exercise Physiologist, or Physiotherapist who specialises in exercise prescription is a great start. Have you asked your GP for a Chronic Disease GP Management Plan (CDGPMP) or Team Care Arrangement (TCA)?

My other tip:

Be active on most, preferably all, days every week. Doing any physical activity is better than doing none.

Do you have a walking program in place? Walking is gentle on the joints, and free! If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build-up to the recommended amount.

Here is Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years):

Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.

Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week. Remember—this doesn’t mean you need to join a gym.

Strengthening exercises can be bodyweight exercises, small dumbbells, or resistance bands (all very accessible to anyone). Work up to 30mins per session (but start with 15-20mins if you’ve never done strength training before!)

Let’s start with the CDGPMP and TCA and focus on increasing your walking and two strengthening sessions per week. Start small and work your way up!

– Kirra

Hope this information helps you find the right person to help you on your wellness journey.

Great questions everyone. I’ll answer more next week. Submit your question now to have it answered!

Want to ask your own question?

We are all better together! Do you have a burning health and wellness question?

Fill out our Google Form, or email us your health and wellbeing questions, to either: editor@hercanberra.com.au or kirra@capitalhydrotherapy.com.au.

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