Posts tagged health
How to Help Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day

imageTo help track and engage in the daily activity that can limit the negative effects of sitting, start by finding your daily baseline with a pedometer. Whether with a pedometer, Fitbit, or even a phone app, take a 30-minute walk and see how many steps you take. This number will vary based on how quickly you walk and how large your steps are.

Next, you want to find a baseline of your daily activity. Start using the pedometer when you first wake up in the morning and keep it in your pocket, on your wrist, or running on your phone until you go to bed. This will give you an estimate of your regular daily activity. For some, this may be frighteningly low on the days without purposeful exercise.

To help meet your daily activity target, all it takes is a slight alteration to your behavior. Here are a few ideas for how to do it without really trying:

  • Park near the back of the parking lot.
  • Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
  • Walk over and talk to a coworker instead of emailing them.
  • Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct.

Meeting your target activity level is just the first step. The second is much simpler and only requires you stand up now and again.

You can reduce the negative effects of sitting all day just by standing up for one or two minutes every hour. Technically, you don’t even have to move, the act of standing alone helps. Since this may be difficult to remember while focused on your work, so it helps to set an hourly reminder. For Mac users, click Settings > Date & Time > Announce the time. Windows users can set up a similar hourly reminder as a task by clicking Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.

If the alarm isn’t enough, you can download dedicated software to remind you. Windows users can use free programs like, Workrave or Breaker to set up automated alerts. For Macs, Time Out seems the best free option. These programs will remind you to stand and dim the desktop to force you out of your chair.

It’s up to you how you use these micro-breaks. You don’t even have to move if you don’t want to, but if you want to squeeze in a little activity, here’s a quick way to do it without leaving your desk area:

  • Stand up.
  • March in place for twenty seconds.
  • Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
  • Wander around and pick up or reorganize for the last twenty seconds (eventually your desk area may even be clean).

Remember: stand up once an hour and get at least 30 minutes of purposeful activity in a day. Those two simple choices will help counteract the negative effects of sitting.

Originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body & How You Can Counteract It

If you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day, then here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent. You’re shaving off seven years of quality life. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting is killing you. That’s the bad news. The good news: It’s easy to counteract.

Our bodies were simply not meant to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time, even with exercise, has a negative effect on our health. What’s worse, many of us sit up to 15 hours a day, which means that some of us spend the bulk of our waking moments on the couch, in an office chair, or in a car. Though sitting all day isn’t hard to counteract, you have to keep your eye on two details: your daily activity and the amount of time you sit.

It is difficult to get an accurate assessment of what sitting all day will do to a person because of the various factors (like diet) that affect health. However, based on a relatively healthy person (who does not drink in excess, smoke, and who isn’t overweight) the following estimates are reflective of what sitting for over six hours a day can do to the body.

1. Immediately after sitting the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. This is about a third of what it does if you’re walking. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes.

2. After a few days of sitting for more than six hours a day, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), and insulin resistance. With a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just two weeks your muscles start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes stairs harder to climb and walks harder to take. Even if you were working out every day the deterioration starts the second you stop moving.

3. After one year of sitting more than six hours a day, the longer term effects of sitting can start to manifest subtly. According to this study by Nature, you might start to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Studies in woman suggest you can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for over six hours a day.

4. After 10-20 years of sitting more than six hours a day, you can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years (the kind you want). It increases your risk of dying of heart disease by 64 percent and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30 percent.

Though this list looks incredibly grim, there are two simple actions which can be performed to counteract the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time:

1. Remember to stand once an hour.
2. Get about 30 minutes of activity per day.

Whether you’re a couch potato watching hours of TV at a time, or an office worker sitting in front of a computer, an Australian study suggests short breaks from sitting once an hour can alleviate most of the problems described above. This isn’t about working out (which is positive, but doesn’t completely counteract the effects of long periods of sitting alone). It’s about creating pockets of moderate activity throughout the day and giving your body a respite from sitting. Moderate activity is equivalent to a brisk walk, which would include yard work or cleaning your house — anything that gets you moving counts. Whether taken in a single 30 minute chunk or broken up throughout the day (in the recommended 10 minute intervals), these bursts of activity can help build up endurance and alleviate the strain of sitting.

Please check back for specific tips to help track and engage in the daily activity that can curb the damage of sitting.

Content originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

Innovant Designs Breakthrough Standing Height Version of FORm_office Benching System

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For collaborative offices concerned with employee health, workplace aesthetic and cost, Innovant’s standing height system is the ideal choice.

The standing height bench bridges the gap between Innovant’s standard FORm_office system and its adjustable height bench by raising the height of the work surface. At this elevation, users have the option to stand or sit at the desk using stool-like task chairs.

“Many clients are challenged both by the cost of adjustable height furniture and the aesthetic it creates.  A sophisticated standing height benching system may be the answer that has been hiding in plain sight for years.” - Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development

The standing desks are a breakthrough for office health concerns. As more studies and news articles convey the ill effects of sitting for extended periods of time, Innovant’s standing height bench provides a comfortable and healthy choice, without the additional cost required for an adjustable height mechanism.

Aesthetically speaking, Innovant’s standing height bench overcomes some of the concerns posed by adjustable height. Unlike adjustable work surfaces, which can compromise the appearance of a workplace landscape when set at different heights, standing height desks produce a clean, uniform look. Additionally, since it can be difficult to hide stray cabling under a moving work surface, Innovant’s standing height bench keeps unsightly cables hidden from view.

“The product has just been deployed in a downtown New York City location for an international media company. Our entire office is buzzing with the health, aesthetic and financial implications of standing height benching. It’s a revelation.” – Deborah Herr, Marketing Designer

For more information about Innovant, its FORm_office line, or any other products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Office Products to Support Posture

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As a follow-up to our first post of the month on office posture, here’s a list of products that will help keep your back straight, your shoulders relaxed, and create an overall sense of comfort while working at your desk.

First, an ergonomic office chair is key for healthy working. If this is not available to you, consider acquiring a backrest to place at your chair. This will provide support by easing some of the pressure of sitting in an uncomfortable office chair.

Another essential item to consider is one that provides support to your wrists. This could be achieved by using a keyboard or mouse-pad wrist rest. Be sure to use these so that your wrists remain as flat and supported as possible.

Finally, a monitor arm is an excellent tool for easily positioning and adjusting a computer screen. By placing the screen at a comfortable height and appropriate distance, you can avoid any neck strain from tilting your head.

Soothing Back Pain by Learning How to Sit Again

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In light of Correct Posture Month, the New York Times published an article, The Posture Guru of Silicon Valley, about instructor Esther Gokhale. She attempts to soothe the back pain of those hard-working Californians plagued with “Silicon Valley syndrome,” by “reintroducing her clients to… the ‘primal posture’.” Gokhale explains that this posture was “common among our ancestors before slouching became a way of life.”

From Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, to one of Google’s senior vice presidents, Susan Wojcicki, Gokhale has trained thousands of workers “chained to their technology… hunched over desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.” Like these Silicon Valley executives and board or staff members, many office workers in the U.S. sit at desks all day, which “goes hand in hand with back, neck and shoulder discomfort.” (Any of this ringing uncomfortable bells?)

Gokhale offers an accessible, non-surgical approach to back pain treatment by reteaching students how to “sit, stand, sleep and walk” in an "upright and relaxed" stance. See below for some of Gokhales tips for elongating and stacking the spine into a tall J-shape:

  • Relax the front of the pelvis downward
  • The belt line should slant forward
  • The rear should angle back so “your behind is behind you, not under you”
  • Hold the rib cage flush with the stomach
  • Roll your shoulders up and gently bring them back and down
  • Re-center your head over you spine

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Correct Office Posture

In honor of Correct Posture Month, we turned to Spine Health for some tips on comfortable work posture. If you spend hours of your workday in front of the computer (don’t we all), read on for ways to avoid the pain and strain that comes along with the job.

Spine Health contributors, John J. Triano, DC, PhD and Nancy C. Selby, BS, suggest the following to help avoid back or neck pain at the office:

  • Adopt a user-friendly workstation by adjusting the position of your office chair, computer, and desk
  • Modify your sitting posture. Many people sit towards the front of their chair and end up hunching forward to look at their screens. The better seated posture is to sit back in your office chair, utilizing the chair’s lumbar support to keep your head and neck erect.
  • Take stretch breaks and walking breaks when sitting in an office chair for long periods.

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In order to ensure your workstation is “user-friendly," consider the following adjustments:

  • Choose the right surface height (standing, sitting, or semi-seated) for your work. Ex: Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing, while traders and other people performing computer-entry work could be seated or standing (depending on the necessary job tools). Finally, work surface height depends on the physical height of the individual worker.
  • Adjust your seat so your work surface is "elbow high.” Also consider the following: A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
  • Adjust the height of your computer screen. Once you have made adjustments to your chair, close your eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where your gaze initially focuses should be the center-point of your screen. If necessary, use books or a stand to raise the height of your screen.

Happy posture fixing! Also, keep an eye out for our next post about specific products that can help with your office posture.

The Benefits of Height Adjustable Desks

Tired of sitting down all day?” This is the opening question posed in a recent Business Insider article, Here’s Why Standing At Your Desk Could Be a Better Way to Work, by Megan Reynolds. Citing studies that show “moving around improves circulation, posture and brain function,” Reynolds states “offices where employees sit down all day are inhibiting staff from working to their full potential.”

In order to counteract the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day, Reynolds offers the height-adjustable desk as an ideal solution “where people can sit or stand without leaving their workstation.” With Innovant’s adjustable FORm_office bench, the simple touch of a button raises and lowers the work surface, allowing users to work at any height.

“Although they are not mainstream yet, height-adjustable desks have become more popular across a broad range of industries over the last 12 months,” Reynolds states. This popularity stems from such factors as the health benefits and productivity-boosting effects of standing while you work.