Standing room only

A pilot scheme led by Loughborough University will see GPs being given convertible standing desks and asked to wear activity trackers to monitor their movements to showcase how leading a sedentary lifestyle can be bad for one’s health.

According to the researchers, getting rid of seats could make GPs an example of good practice for patients and prompt conversations about the risks of being inactive. Another outcome of the study may be that standing could shorten the average consultation time, which would allow GPs to see more patients in one day.

As one of the University’s professors pointed out, historically, GPs and patients sit down during consultations to facilitate a rapport between doctors and patients. However, this leads to GPs sitting down for hours during the day, which can contribute to poor health outcomes.

The professor added that standing consultations could help GPs to be more active, and highlight to patients the importance of reducing and breaking up sitting time. The standing appointments will be for adults only and patients will be able to sit down if they prefer.

The trial will start next Spring with a group of GPs in the Midlands, who will use £2,000 convertible standing desks and wear activity trackers on their thighs to provide objective data about their movements during and after the working day.

They will be asked to track their wellbeing, productivity and activity levels before and after they have used the desks, and patients will also be asked for their reaction to the standing appointments when they leave. The GPs will be able to use their discretion as to whether they stay standing throughout their consultations, as this may not always be appropriate, and can switch the desk from standing to sitting at the push of a button.