Q&A: Comfy standing meetings



Question: Our company has meetings for five to 100 people, and just got high-top tables so that you can stand. An employee expressed concerns about not feeling comfortable standing for 90 minutes straight. I figured you’d have some kind of guidelines. I’d like to provide these to our leadership staff.

Jessica D.

Answer: Terrific question! We have a few ideas. One place to start would be to consider having seating for only about one-half of the staff, up in front of the room. This is useful for anyone who may have any medical issues, hearing issues, wants to sit, or just likes to be near the action. Our experience finds that all the seats don’t tend to fill up, so this even gives the standers a chance to sit if they tire over the 90 minutes. Here are a few other ideas:

· Consider some kind of stand-up tables, grouped along the side or in back, or in the space behind the chairs. This gives people the chance to lean against something if they need a little rest, just as staff around the edges of the room will lean against the walls as needed. Chairs are a perfect alternate to tables along the edges of the room, as people are sometimes more likely to sit if the chair is close by versus having to walk in front of everyone to get there.

· Maybe you might want to break it up a little. At a 45 minute break, invite everyone who wants to change postures to switch: the sitters are probably getting tired at this point too.

· As your staff gets used to the idea of standing meetings they will develop a preference for sitting or standing the whole meeting. It may take time to build the muscle endurance, so perhaps weaning them off the chairs for several meetings will help you in this effort. Ramp-up time will vary, depending on overall fitness and whether the staff is already standing during the workday. How to best accommodate the smaller portion that want choice will be clearer over time.

· Place a large display cart at the front of the room and mid-way to effectively deliver your messages to the whole group, whether seated or standing.

There is no doubt that giving people permission to decide for themselves is really important in this process. Have other ideas to share?

Michelle Judd
Director of Global Communications at Ergotron

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Halloween sedentary horrors


Giant spiders, flying bats, mummies, and witches; as a kid I celebrated Halloween with the comforting knowledge that there were no monsters hiding under my bed. Unfortunately, with adulthood came the awareness that real-life horrors do exist. In fact, our own behaviors can lead to some pretty gruesome, if not life-threatening, conditions.

Non-Communicable, Life-style diseases
Throughout human history Infectious diseases have been the major cause of non-accidental mortality. For example, the Black Death, which swept across whole continents in the 14th century, resulted in an estimated 75 to 200 million fatalities.

Fast forward seven hundred years. These days non-communicable, lifestyle-related diseases are the leading cause of death globally. Every year, at least 5 million people die because of tobacco use and about 2.8 million die from being overweight. High cholesterol accounts for roughly 2.6 million deaths and 7.5 million die because of high blood pressure.

Some point out that lifestyle diseases are the unintended consequence of a longer lifespan, but with children as young as three years being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it’s clear that something else is going on: industrialization.

As societies modernize, their populations fall prey to a litany of maladies: Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, cancer, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression and obesity . What do they have in common? The answer is physical inactivity and sedentary behavior.

Of the diseases mentioned, let’s examine the one which is possibly the hardest to disguise since it has been correlated to body type. Your risk for metabolic syndrome is greater if you have the “apple” or “pear” body shape, as seen below.

metabolic syndrome

Metabolic (met-ah-BOL-ik) syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors for heart disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and stroke.

The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH reports that the risk of having metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight and obesity and a lack of physical activity.

If you feel that you share the symptoms of metabolic syndrome listed above, see your health care professional. And remember, it’s okay to dress like an apple or pear on Halloween, but if your shape remains that way after you take after your costume, you could be making your own real-life horror story!

Happy Halloween, folks.

For more information about the risks associated with sedentary behavior, check out JustStand.org.

metabolic syndrome.jpg

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Quick-start your treadmill workstyle


Picture 209

Treadmill desks have been around for over a decade, and still hold allure for the fitness-minded who want to combine work with more consistent movement throughout the day. And while the workstation concept has endured over the years, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when creating an active workstyle around the treadmill desk, whether as your primary desk or just once in a while during your work day. Here are five simple steps to help you go “the extra mile” at work, safely:

1. Exercise caution at all times. To avoid possible injury, if using a computer at a treadmill, set up your computer first before pushing the “start” button. If this is your first time walking on a treadmill, familiarize yourself with it by reading the instruction manual first. Remember, this is a moving floor so keep your wits about you at all times. Check beforehand to see if there’s a contact person in case the treadmill malfunctions. Be prepared in case of a power outage or emergency drill.

2. Choose a walking speed. Start slow at around 1 to 1.5 miles per hour then later ratchet it up to a speed that’s right for your body. Note: it would be difficult to work while walking at a speed over 2 miles per hour, and you should never set the speed at over 3 miles per hour. You’ll want to vary the speed, depending on the type of work you’re doing: While listening to a teleseminar, you could mute your phone and walk at a vigorous speed. When reviewing a proposal, you’d probably want to slow down so it’s easier to concentrate.

3. Break up walk time with rest time. Walk for about 15 minutes, then take a short break (get off the platform and stretch), before continuing for another 15 minutes. Even if you’d like to walk for longer segments, resist the temptation to overdo and possibly injure yourself. If using a laptop, consider undocking periodically and working elsewhere at a seated workstation. Keep in mind that standing all day is not healthy. Switching between seated and standing positions is ideal.

4. Be respectful of co-workers. While walking on a treadmill, you will be towering over everyone, and your voice will carry differently when on the phone. The treadmill may be noisy — the faster you walk, the louder it is. In addition to sounds from the machine, your footfalls also make noise. Show consideration for those around you by being aware of your activity.

5. Create a ramp up plan. Slowly acclimate yourself to standing and walking more than you have been doing — the important thing is to switch things up. If this is your primary workstation, it may take some time to develop a routine that’s healthful and productive. If you’re using a “time-share” treadmill, schedule in times to walk and work in the office so when that weekly conference call rolls around you’ve got a reservation.

Stay tuned for more posts about treadmill workstyles, including tips for advanced and full-time treadmill users committed to reducing sedentary time in the office.

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White House requests $700k for standing desks



America: Stand Beside Her and Guide Her
If the recent White House requisition for standing desks proves anything, it’s that the quest for a healthier lifestyle is not divided along partisan lines. Prominent public figures known to use standing desks include Donald Rumsfeld, Winston Churchill, Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr., and Benjamin Franklin. Notable writers who stood include Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Predictably, the US government support of sit-stand desks has come in the form of modeling best practices rather than by mandate by law. Our safety standards for office workers tend to be conservative when compared to the European Union, which considers height adjustable standing desks an ergonomic necessity.

The Thousand Dollar Toilet Seat
It should come as no surprise that some citizens are crying out that the expense is too great and the money better spent on other necessities. An outlay of $700,000 over 5 years does sound excessive; even when broken down over 60 months it comes to $11,666.666, which apart from anything else is not an auspicious series of digits.

How will government workers benefit from this expenditure? Is the standing desk just another symptom of government running off with our collective check book? Are we figuratively flushing good money after bad? I don’t think so. Several independent researchers have found that an effective sit-stand desk such as Ergotron’s WorkFit line can reduce sedentary time by 50% per day among average knowledge workers. Given the documented harmful effects of sitting too much, this translates as a reduced risk for muscular skeletal and cardio metabolic risks for employees.

Fig. 1 Harmful effects of sitting

Disclaimer: Ergotron devices are not intended to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease.

Let Freedom Ring
While reducing risks associated with sedentary time promotes health and wellbeing, there is a less concrete benefit that was first verified in the land of our forefathers: Great Britain. The Whitehall study was originally designed to prove that people in higher levels of management were more stressed than those they managed. As it turns out, the lower you are on the company ladder, the more stress you’re liable to experience.

What accounts for fewer health concerns among executives? One explanation is autonomy. People who have no choice in the tasks they do, and when they do them, suffer from a lack of decision latitude that can severely limit their performance and productivity.

On the other hand, people in offices who were given sit-stand desks were able to exercise some control over the way they worked with the simple choice to change postures at will. It came as some surprise to researchers that something as simple as this could elevate mood, energy and concentration!

Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood
With evidence-based data showing adjustable standing desks can help mitigate sitting-related diseases AND enhance performance and productivity, the American government, indeed any government, is exactly the place where you want this investment made. Can’t you just picture it? A sit-stand attachment on the President’s desk in the Oval Office? History in the making…

carrie s_a-hr
Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)

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The importance of pilot studies in research, part 2



See part 1 here

When Ergotron chose to support the ATTAIN pilot study about the impact of using LearnFit adjustable standing desks in a computer lab for special needs students, we didn’t know what to expect. Would we get clear results? Would they be transfer to other populations? And mostly, would they be dismissed because of the small sample size?

For this Sit-Stand Action Research Project, researchers randomly assigned 13 ATTAIN Technology Lab students to intervention and comparison groups or a 40-day period. The intervention group received sit‐to‐stand units which enabled them to easily alternate between sitting and standing. Students were encouraged to stand for at least five minutes every 30 minutes, but could opt to stand longer. The comparison group of two students continued to work at traditional sit-only desks.

Here’s what the research discovered:
> Students in the intervention group showed notable improvement in their quality of work over the course of the project, unlike the comparison group.
> Additionally, their behavior improved over the course of the project. (For the comparison group, behavior either remained the same or worsened.)

My primary concern was that the students’ learning challenges were far too variable to provide clear results. I was uncertain that the students, even with guidance from their instructors, would be able to maintain a sit-stand cycle sufficient to impact behavior and performance. My fears were unfounded.

I was further encouraged when the study was published in 2014 by the American College of Sports Medicine in their HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNAL, VOL. 19/ NO. 1.

In that article, Sit, Stand, Learn Using Workplace Wellness Sit-Stand Results to Improve Student Behavior and Learning the authors Nicolaas P. Pronk, PhD, and Abigail S. Katz, PhD, identified prolonged sitting time as a risk factor for various negative health outcomes including metabolic syndrome and obesity. They propose breaking up extended periods of sitting with intermittent standing as a promising solution and point to an emerging body of research suggesting that doing so improves emotional health, such as mood, as well.

This simple pilot study elegantly demonstrates that our bodies and minds are not separate entities that function independently of each other — something we’ll examine more closely in a later post.

Knowing that “sitting disease” is a growing public health issue, Ergotron has supported independent researchers around the world. They represent many disciplines, from ergonomics to epidemiology, sports medicine to psychology and all are united in a single goal: to reduce the harmful effects of sedentary behavior and by improving health, to optimize performance. In the last five years Ergotron has supported this research with donations of sit-stand desks.

In every one of those studies, breaking up sitting time has proven to be beneficial in every one of the completed sit-stand studies. How is that possible?

In part 3 of this series, I will detail how Ergotron’s research delves into sedentary living and its effect on human health and performance.

carrie s_a-hr

– Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)

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Healthy workplace? ADA recognizes you!



Does your company, non-profit, or community organization inspire and champion a culture of wellness? If yes, the American Diabetes Association wants to know about it!

The ADA will recognize your organization’s efforts to engage employees or members in healthy living with its new workplace Health Champion Designation. Think of it as a wellness “seal of approval,” awarded for meeting certain criteria in nutrition, weight management, physical activity, and wellbeing.

The Health Champion Designation application is now open and will remain open until October 31, 2015.

Learn more

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How sitting all day is like living in space



In January 2014, the New York Times published a spectacular article about the effect space has on human bodies, aptly titled “Beings Not Made for Space”. The opening sentence was a stunner: “In space, heads swell.” Apparently these kinds of transformations don’t necessarily stop once astronauts return to Earth. Eyeballs can become slightly squashed, sleep and eating can become difficult, and radiation may damage vital organs.

You’re probably wondering what gravity and astronauts have to do with sitting down all day. As it turns out, quite a lot. The way space affects astronauts is hugely indicative of why a sedentary lifestyle is so damaging to your health. The science seems to show us:

Our bodies are designed to work against gravity every moment of the day. Walking, sitting, sleeping, standing, running… at all times, gravity is pressing its forces against our bodies, making our muscles and our bones strong. We are designed to move: nearly 60% of our skeletal muscles are dedicated to opposing gravity.

So when gravity is removed from the equation, our bodies change. We float effortlessly and move with the tiniest of motions, leaving our muscles and bones useless, and eventually leading to frailty. The same effect happens in bedridden and immobile persons; without gravity weighing on their bodies, their bones weaken and they quickly become unhealthy.

Likewise, when astronauts spend a significant amount of time in space, their bodies change. Astronauts have been known to grow up to 3% taller while in space because without gravity, the spine is free to lengthen. Muscle mass and bone density is lost in space because without gravity, there’s no force insisting they remain strong. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station exercise at least two hours a day to maintain their normal body composition. Luckily, if their health does happen to deteriorate in space, it’s restored when they return to an active lifestyle on Earth.

Which is good news for those living a sedentary life, too; adopting an active lifestyle will return the body to normal. As Joan Vernikos, Ph.D. and former Director of NASA’s Life Scientist Division, says in her book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: “The more your body is working against gravity, the better your chances of staying in good health.”

Vernikos recommends moving from a sitting position to standing position as frequently as possible.“Standing up often is what matters,” she writes, “not how long you remain standing.” Every time you stand up, nearly every nerve in your body is stimulated. Standing regulates the body’s blood pressure and blood volume, but the real value is in stimulating your entire body.

For example, if you stand once and stay standing for an hour, then you’ve only stimulated your body once that hour. But, if you stand up five times in one hour, you’ve stimulated your body five different times. Vernikos goes so far as to suggest changing positions every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day.

That number of sit-to-stand transitions may seem a bit on the excessive side, but the key takeaway here is to move around as much as possible during the day. Human bodies weren’t designed to sit all day long; modern life has simply evolved in a way that now, many of us do. In reality, we were designed to walk, to run, to hunt, to move.

Gravity is good; let it do its job. Keep moving, and stay healthy.

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Q&A: How much should I stand?   



“Obviously there should be a slow ramp up from 100% sitting to a ratio between sitting and standing. What is the optimal ratio? How long should the ramp up be (days, weeks, months)?” ~ Maurico C. 



Great question, Maurico, and an important one. No one has come up with the hard and fast rule yet, but many of the world’s leading researchers are weighing into the debate. From our perspective, part of this answer depends on how comfortable you are making changes and how hunched and crunched from prolonged sitting you are right now.

Good rule of thumb?

Change postures every 30 minutes. This seems to be an optimal length of time to stand before your body becomes too static, or to sit before your body overloads. This doesn’t work for everyone and some of it depends on the approach you are taking to standing and moving more in the first place. A first step might be to set some goals. If you did the calculations, you may discover you are sitting more than 14 hours during your day. It is an unrealistic goal to cut that number in half in the first week. It is more realistic to start sitting one hour less per day. This gives you some choice about where you begin and helps you achieve success over time as well.

Break up that sedentary slump.

Focus on the most sedentary times of your day. If you are tuning into your internal radio station, more than likely you’ve been hearing some grumbling from that hour of the show…Man, my back feels stiff right now…or…wait a minute, where did that pain come from?  If you haven’t been hearing anything, turn the volume up. Your body will tell you how much it can handle. Do you feel achy or fatigued? Is there any pain? Is it telling you that you feel good, maybe even energized and focused when standing? These are your clues about when to change your position.

You may experience some discomfort at the beginning when switching to sit-stand computing. Maybe after 10 minutes of standing, maybe after an hour. The key is to listen to the message and change postures when you hear it. You will hear it, whether seated or standing. Your body is that good.

One person’s experience – yours may be similar.

In the beginning, I could only stand for about 15 minute increments. I began to notice when I started feeling uncomfortable sitting, and then I would stand for a while. I did this for about a month. As I began to stand for longer periods, I started to do the same thing when I was standing. Were my legs feeling fatigued? Was I shifting around more? Feeling distracted? That was my sign it was time to sit for a while.”  ~ Rose J.

It will be different for everybody, and every body. Of course, consult a doctor if you have other health issues, too. It is important to take a safe approach to any physical change you make.

How long is it going to take to “feel” right?

It might happen as quick as a week, or it might take a few months. We have seen it vary a hundred different ways. The important thing is to maintain healthy posture and follow these sit-stand tips to help make the transition. Don’t give up if you don’t feel terrific right from the start. Over time you will.

In other words, be creative. Decide which activities you prefer doing sitting versus standing. Talking on the phone? Stand up. Write out a proposal? Sit down. Proof reading? Stand up. Filing? Stand up. You decide.

One note for anyone creating a standing only desk set up…be sure to build in rest periods, either by adding a tall stool to your workstation so you can sit periodically, or by exploring other chances to sit and rest, like in meetings or at lunch.

It is a balance that we are trying to reach. A balance personal to our workflow and how our body responds.

Thanks for the question, Mauricio! Anyone else? What’s on your mind?

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Save an intern. Get a standing desk.


It looks like the secret is out: standing desks make you healthier, happier, and more productive. Sounds pretty great, right? The only problem is if you don’t have one.

While there are many ways to“hack” your regular desk into a standing one, none are better than this guy’s attempt. Watch how he thought way outside the box to fashion his very own standing desk.
Watch this video for a laugh, then read our blog posts for ideas and inspiration to activate your life. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to MoveMore during the day, so go ahead and get started!


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Importance of pilot studies in research, part 1


Data gathered in the course of scientific studies can be a powerful influence on businesses and individuals seeking objective expertise. In general, the more robust a study is, the greater its credibility. But in some cases, even very small and relatively short-term projects can be impactful.

The role of a pilot study can be to test an uncertain hypothesis or to uncover problems that might compromise the data on a large scale. If the research is written up and published in a scientific journal, it serves to confer additional status to the project. Maybe most importantly, a successful pilot program can result in funding for future research. So in effect, a pilot study fulfills a similar function to the dress rehearsal that precedes opening night of a Broadway play.

For example, Ergotron was approached by researchers to support a study involving students of the ATTAIN Technology Lab in Minnesota. ATTAIN is a work experience teaching lab where students with special needs receive training in computer skills that could be used on-the-job after graduation. Initially, I was skeptical. My primary concern was that the students’ learning challenges were far too variable to provide clear results. I was also uncertain that the students, even with guidance from their instructors, would be able to maintain a sit-stand cycle sufficient to impact behavior and performance.

For their study the researchers planned to randomly assign 13 ATTAIN lab students into intervention and comparison groups. The intervention group was to receive sit‐to‐stand units which enable them to easily alternate between sitting and standing. Students were to be encouraged to stand for at least five minutes every 30 minutes but could opt to stand longer.

How could something as simple as breaking up sitting time with bouts of standing change a student’s learning experience? And if we knew the answer to that, what would be the implications for mainstream students? And what about working adults and retirees?

These two questions are at the heart of Ergotron’s sit-stand research initiative. Knowing that prolonged sitting is a growing public health hazard, Ergotron has supported independent researchers around the world in order to find out more.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, when I will elaborate on the published results of this case in point, the ATTAIN pilot study.
carrie s_a-hr

– Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)

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