Swap Happy Hour for Healthy Hour

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How are your new resolutions to get back into (or start building) habits of health coming? The holidays were a glorious excuse to indulge in frequently unhealthy food and drink and party-going. Come February, it’s hard to put aside the camaraderie of those festive gatherings in favor of a solitary grind on a treadmill.

But what if you could merge the team-building and social aspects of office Happy Hours with the benefits of regular exercise? Here’s an idea: invite coworkers to a “Healthy Hour.”

Instead of the local watering hole, invite your cube-mate as a guest to your gym. Or organize an introductory yoga class for your team. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the more traditional active office endeavors: sign up for a company volleyball, softball or bowling league (that last one usually involves adult beverages, too; just don’t forget what you’re trying to accomplish).

If you use fitness trackers (or apps), connect with your coworkers, and encourage each other to reach goals, with group celebrations when they’re achieved. That way, your Happy Hour celebrations are just incorporated into your Healthy Hour gatherings.

Keep the festive feeling going all year!

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[Movie] Rethinking Workspaces: Design for Movement & Flexibility

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Technology allows us to be more mobile than ever before. So why do we keep sitting around? Ergotron is rethinking the way we design environments to allow more flexibility, greater collaboration and opportunities to move more. Sit back and enjoy this informative video on how sitting creeps into every area of our lives. It’s time to stand up for ourselves and a healthier workplace.

The workspace transformation is here: check out http://www.juststand.org.

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How to choose the right standing desk

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Ergotron WorkFit

After reading the mountain of evidence that shows how terrible prolonged sitting is for your health, you’ve officially jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. So now what? There are dozens of different standing desks on the market. We developed this guide to choosing the right one for your unique situation. It breaks out the most important questions to ask yourself before investing in any sit-stand desk.

Adjustability
Questions to consider:
1-Do you want a desk that adjusts to both sitting and standing positions?
We follow the rule of “everything in moderation,” and encourage people to sit and stand during the day. After about 30 minutes seated, switch to standing for 30 minutes, and so on. If you choose a fixed-height standing desk, though, it may be difficult to switch it up while remaining at your workstation. An extra-tall stool or chair is necessary.

2-Is the desk easy to adjust up and down?
Choose the right solution for you: A powered standing desk with an electric motor can move a lot of weight on the desktop, whereas a standing desk with manual adjustment can move more quickly, meaning you’ll be better inclined to change your position as you desire. Check that the design doesn’t include a ton of cranks, buttons or locks that can slow you down. Or sharp, exposed mechanics that could pinch fingers.

3-Will you share the desk with multiple people?
If your office uses a hot-desk system or runs multiple shifts necessitating shared workspaces, it’s essential to have a height-adjustable desk with a broad range of adjustment points from low to high. That way, a person who is 6’1” can use the same desk as a person who is 5 feet. (Use this ergonomic assessment tool to check the fitness of your workstation.)

Look and Feel
Questions to consider:
1-Do you want to convert a traditional desk to a standing desk?
When you don’t want to buy a full standing workstation, or completely rearrange your space, consider an attachment that goes on top of an existing desk. An adjustable add-on unit is flexible and portable, so you can move it from desk to desk, or office to office. If you invest in one yourself, you can even move it from job to job.

2-How large of a desk do you want?
Do you like to spread out when you work, or are you more of a minimalist with little extra stuff? Standing desks come in all sizes and shapes, so pick the one that best fits you, your equipment, workflow, and space.

3-What kind of environment do you work in?
If you work in an office, you’ll probably prefer your desk to have a sleek, professional look that matches your décor. If you work in a lab or industrial environment, you’ll probably need something more rugged that holds more weight.

4-Do you need your desk to be mobile?
If your work environment tends to move around often, or you need to frequently access cords and cables in the back of your desk, think about investing in a desk with casters, to make movement quick and painless.

Cost
Questions to consider:
1-What’s your budget?
2-What level of quality do you expect?
3-Does the desk come with a warranty? If so, how long is it?

Of course, some standing desks are less expensive than others, but don’t be too quick to choose the low-cost option. When you invest in a standing desk, you’re investing in your health and well-being. Consider the level of quality you’re looking for, and how long you want the desk to last. Also, a robust warranty and service package are nice to have in your back pocket, in case an issue comes up.

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Resolve to rock your 2017!

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We just kissed 2016 goodbye, and now begin anew in 2017, often with New Year’s resolutions. As you’d probably guess, the most common resolutions are related to health: lose weight, eat better, and get more exercise.

We all know that sticking with a New Year’s resolution is difficult – in fact, January 17th has come to be called “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.” (An informal survey of team members about past resolutions confirmed that most of us do indeed fall off the wagon then.) But the good news is that the act of setting a goal already makes you much more likely to reach it.

One trick that helps assure success is to start small and let momentum build slowly over time. Setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is tempting, but that’s what causes most resolvers to crash and burn. Focusing on a tiny behavior makes taking action so easy that it’s embarrassing not to do it. (An example is stepping in place during one TV commercial.) With repetition that behavior becomes automatic so it’s easy to expand and enlarge it. Soon enough you could be stepping during the entire show.

How long will that take? Scientists at University College London found that it takes on average 66 days to make habits “second nature,” so you don’t have to exercise any willpower. In fact, it feels uncomfortable when you don’t carry out a “super-habit” such as brushing your teeth before bed.

If you’re coming up short on ideas for 2017 New Year’s resolutions, here are a few from some of our healthy, happy Ergotron employees:

Calorie Burn

“It’s way easier to avoid that slice of leftover birthday cake if you know it’s a whopping 350 calories. This year, I’ll be tracking on MyFitnessPal to see how many calories I’m consuming in each sugary treat – and how much I need to exercise (or stand up!) to burn it off.”

Daylight

“In 2017, I’m going to go outside or stand near a window to get some daylight whenever I can. A study by Swiss scientists showed that people exposed to daylight were way more alert at the beginning of the evening versus those exposed to artificial light, who were sleepier. Plus, it relaxes my eyes to look out into the distance and take in the view.”

Email Control

“I’ve resolved to stop checking my email obsessively. I figure that if I’m checking for messages or refreshing my social stream every five minutes during the day, that means I’m checking in at least 24,000 times a year. No wonder it’s so hard for me to concentrate.”

Mind Refresh

“I promise to set the timer on my smartphone to three minutes, and then close my eyes for that time and focus only on my breathing without trying to change it. I always feel a lot more clear-headed afterwards, but I feel guilty taking a break during really busy days. Not in 2017!”

Stand Up!

“I haven’t made it a habit to stand more while working. Sure, it may take some getting used to, but it’s a relatively painless way to make a small, yet significant, difference in my health. When I remember to do it, I do feel the results (more productive, more alert) almost immediately.”

Avoid Aches

“In the new year, I’d like to go back to more of an emphasis on good ergonomics. That’s still an important way to avoid wrist, back, and neck pain that can be a red flag for serious injuries and diseases.”

Tell us about your New Year’s resolutions and how you’ll make them stick in the comments!

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MoveMore 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

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To make it easy for you to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, we’ve assembled this guide to popular sit-stand products and related gear! And as always, if you need help, please reach out.

WorkFit-T, Sit-Stand Desktop Workstation
Give the priceless gift of wellness. Quickly convert an existing surface into a sit-stand workstation with the WorkFit-T. It’s the simple solution for making a sit-stand routine as natural as pouring a cup of coffee. Watch the video!

ErgotronHome™ Lift24
Perfect for the college student in a cramped dorm room, or the busy professional on the go, the Lift24 portable desk is a space-saving way to sit or stand while using a laptop or other device.

ErgotronHome™ Hub27
And for the multitasking family member, the Hub27 corrals and charges devices, plus doubles as a wall-mounted standing desk. Sort mail, make notes or do some computing, then close and lock it. The glass door acts as a dry erase message board.

Elliptical Trainer
With the ultra-popular elliptical trainer, your loved ones can work out while they work or watch TV, which means less time at the gym and more time to spend with you! Other options: Floor mat, stretchy bands, hand weights, mini-stepper and balance board.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones
We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. These headphones will help you escape the crazy sleigh ride, and find your own peace on earth.

Happy holidays!

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Prevent eye strain with the 20-20-20 rule

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After or during a long day of working at a computer, have you experienced any of the following problems?

  • sore, tired or burning eyes
  • blurred or double vision
  • watery, itchy or dry eyes
  • headaches

If you have, it’s likely the result of eye strain, which happens when your eyes get tired from intense use. Fortunately, it can be remedied with a helpful trick called the 20-20-20 rule:

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

The 20/20/20 rule was popularized by Dr. Jeff Anshell, a specialist in “vision ergonomics.” Watch him in this TV news segment explain how to combat computer eye strain.

Want to take it to the next level?
If you’re willing, and your schedule allows, challenge yourself to not only look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes, but to actually get up and move around. Stand to make a phone call. Stretch to file paperwork. Stroll to grab a cup of coffee.

The point is: just get moving! Not only will moving around reduce eye strain, but it keeps you active during an otherwise sedentary period, increasing alertness and leading to higher productivity.

We challenged our readers to try out the 20-20-20 rule and here’s what they said:

Nell:
“Wow this really works! Don’t usually have eye strain but this certainly works to lighten your mood and concentrate better! :)”

Brian:
“Thank you for this great tip for preventing eyestrain. As I get older, I was thinking strain was due to age. Nice to know it is associated with intense use and can be remedied.”

Georgia:
“I have wonderful picture windows in front of me where I work so this is a rule that is easy to follow – as long as I stop to do it.”

Computer usage is likely to cause only temporary eye irritation, and no permanent damage, but consult an eye care professional anyway. Eye drops or artificial tear lubricants may take care of symptoms. Or for maximum viewing comfort, you may need computer glasses with a special prescription, or lens coating and tint.

Have you tried the 20-20-20 rule? Does it work for you?

 

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Q&A: Follow up on Building a Business Case webinar

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Q-A_purpleIt’s been a month since we presented our Building a Business Case for Sit-Stand at Work webinar (available on-demand). There was a lot of interest in the topic and we received several questions after the Q&A segment, so let’s address them here.

Q: When did Ergotron become involved with the sit-stand workstyle concept?

A:  In 1994 we introduced our first sit-stand monitor arms – back then for CRTs! But really the sit-stand concept started with healthcare. Nurses were spending too many hours on their feet, so Ergotron designed carts that would allow them to sit while charting. In 2009 we launched our first WorkFit® sit-stand desk and in 2010 we launched JustStand.org, as a hub and community for the latest research, tools and ideas about moving more. And we’re still innovating with products like the LearnFit® student standing desk for classrooms.

Q: I’d like to make a business case to my boss for a sit-stand desk. I’m not an HR professional. Where do I even start?

A: First of all, bravo! You’re not alone in being hesitant to request a workstation upgrade – only 16 percent of employees surveyed have asked for one. Begin with our “Ask Your Boss” letter template (part of a downloadable WorkFit Champion Toolkit). Then customize it based on your unique circumstances. If you have special health concerns that are exacerbated by sitting, talk to your doctor about using a sit-stand workstation. Most companies will try to accommodate an employee with a medical condition.

Or, if your boss will only be convinced by fiscal facts and figures, add an ROI angle to your letter, such as what this employee wrote to her manager:

“Outfitting our workplace with ergonomic sit-stand desks will affect the bottom line in a positive way. Let’s say every workplace injury costs the company $5,000, taking into account lost productivity, increased healthcare costs, etc. If an employee approaches you before becoming injured at the workplace from a chronic disease or repetitive strain injury, you save $5,000 (minus the cost of the desk). The return on investment is substantial. Not to mention all the other benefits: employees who sit and stand up during the workday are more comfortable and more alert, and as a result, more productive.”

Q: Do you recommend any small tools or gadgets to help me add more movement to my sit-stand routine?

A: Sure! Many of us have tried a variety of active-office gear with positive results. Your experience may vary, so listen to your body and have fun experimenting. Carrie, a certified ergonomic assessor, says her anti-fatigue mat gets a lot of use. When standing, it not only cushions her feet, but it encourages her to move. (One bonus: the cushioning in any one spot of a mat compresses and provides less padding after a while, so you naturally step to another spot.) Denise, a designer, uses a stand-up task stool with her sit-stand desk. She likes to adjust it to different heights, depending on her fatigue level, and “perch” on it throughout the day. When on a long phone call, for instance, she raises it high and rocks back and forth, which keeps her legs moving and engaged. Colette, a product manager, likes to use a footstool so she can alternate putting a leg up when standing, or a balance board when movement helps her stay more engaged and alert.

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Got a case of “text neck”? Heads up!

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Have you been using a smartphone or tablet more often, instead of a desktop computer? Working on the go may lead to certain types of injuries due to a mismatch between mobile technology and our interface with it.

Case in point: Text messaging has been common for years and initially medical clinicians saw an uptick in repetitive strain injuries of the hand. Pain related to handheld devices was amusingly named “BlackBerry thumb” or “teen texting tendinitis.” But it was no joke. Patients suffered weakness, throbbing, and “popping” from inflamed muscles and tendons of the thumb and wrist, requiring cortisone injections or even surgery. We quickly learned to lighten up, write short, and take breaks.

Now there’s a new scourge associated with the use of a smartphone, tablet, or other small devices: “Text neck.” Caretakers and physical therapists say patients complain of headaches, muscle strain and pinched nerves. Frequently bending your neck for long periods to look at a device can even lead to spinal degeneration.

Technology usage rates are skyrocketing across the globe, according to Pew Research Center. In addition to texting, other favorite activities include social networking, watching videos, and listening to music/podcasts. In fact, two-thirds of Americans now own mobile devices, spending an average of 3-5 hours a day on them.

The ergonomic remedy?

1.-Use good posture, keeping your head upright. The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, which equals the weight of a bowling ball. When you tilt your head forward 60 degrees, the weight your neck must support surges to 60 pounds, about the weight of an 8-year-old child!

2.-Adjust the screen height and angle of your device for optimal viewing. When a desk is available, attach an external keyboard and/or monitor for prolonged use.

3.-Switch up between sitting and standing throughout the day. If it’s not possible to alternate positions, limit leisure screen time, especially if your work is computer-intensive.

To discover more ways to use smart devices safely, download The Ergonomic Equation for Comfortable Computing which explains, in illustrations, the core principles of comfortable computing.

Or for an engaging take on the basics, watch this Ted-Ed video, The Benefits of Good Posture, and learn how to support your body in adapting to the stresses put on it.

Heads up!

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Walking meetings vs. standing desks: Why do I have to choose? Think like a millennial.

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The uncompromising approach of the new generation of workers both shocks and inspires me. They dare to suggest solutions that sound impossible to my jaded ear. And they don’t always easily tolerate a choice between this or that. Maybe we can learn something from their openness to breaking the rules so to speak.

A case in point: recent articles like the one by Jill Margo, a baby-boomer like me, in the Financial Review, “Forget standing desks, take a ‘walking meeting’ instead.” She (and others) report that walking meetings are feasible for many workers, and offers some good advice on how to engage in them. But why does she suggest walking meetings as an alternative to standing desks?

The new generation of workers will be sure asking for this and that. And a feasible response to them would be, “Of course we can – in fact, we should!” We, as workers, will benefit from both.

While both walking meetings and standing desks serve the cause for worksite wellness, they do not function physiologically in the same way. Placing them in opposition to each other reflects a basic misunderstanding of the importance of the different types of movement in the workplace. This could mislead readers into thinking walking meetings and standing desks are more similar than they really are, and ultimately to some ill-informed decisions around their workplace activity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing the article’s promotion of walking meetings. I only want to emphasize that adjustable sit-stand desks are designed to reduce the periods of uninterrupted sitting so prevalent in office environments. Even if a person engaged in four 30-minute walking meetings every day, they would still be at risk of “sitting disease” if they also sat for more than 30 minutes at a time. This is true because physical activity like walking does not compensate for time spent being sedentary.

There is quite a bit of research being done to establish a dose-response relationship between movement and sedentary time. Some experts even suggest that too much physical activity during the work day can cause longer uninterrupted bouts of sitting later as a compensation. The balance between too much sitting and too much exercise is still to be determined.

In the meantime, moderation is recommended.

You don’t have to be a millennial to want both worlds. Maybe I learned it from my millennial children, or maybe I’ve just come to experience the benefits of both in my own work day. You could easily interchange walking meetings with yoga at work, or taking a run at lunch. The argument remains the same. Both are better for you. Sit-Stand desks have a place in your work world, whether you work in a corporate center or have converted your back bedroom for a home office.

Let’s all start thinking like the next generation of workers. They don’t accept unreasonable choices sitting down, and neither do I.

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

 

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Switch it up, with a regular sit-stand routine

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Are you a deskbound worker? Chances are that for some of you, your health may be compromised and your fitness de-conditioned due to prolonged sedentary time. Most ergonomics and human factors experts agree that the human body is designed to move and cycle through a balance of postures.

In other words? You need to periodically sit down, stand up and move around throughout the day. How much may depend on your life and workstyle.

Research suggests that sitting for extended periods slows your metabolism and raises your risk for obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and early death. But as any retail worker or waiter can tell you, being on your feet all day can be hard on your circulatory system, legs, feet and back too. The idea is balance. By switching from one posture to another frequently, you automatically mitigate the risks associated with either one on its own.

So how should you begin to switch it up?

This is where the sit-stand switch comes into play. As a benchmark, we recommend changing your position every 30 minutes.

Start slowly. No need to overdo it and suffer additional physical stress and strain. Stand for short periods – 5 minutes per hour, then 10 minutes, and so on until you work up to longer intervals throughout the workday.

Need a little more guidance? Here are some examples of an hourly sit-stand routine, which could be repeated during your workday:

  • Do 30 minutes of sitting while computing, then 30 minutes of standing in a meeting or reviewing mail
  • Do 20 minutes of sitting working on a report, and then 10 minutes of standing reading email and 30 minutes of doing some coding or editing
  • Do 30 minutes of sitting while writing an article, then 20 minutes of standing on the phone and 10 minutes of stretching or filing.

There are endless formulas for creating a mix of sitting and standing postures that accommodate many environments, occupations and workflows. Use these as guidelines only, meant to simply encourage you to sit less and stand more. It is worth noting that even small changes can make a big improvement in your biochemical and biomechanical picture.

There may be a few other areas that you need to switch.

Whether sitting or standing, good posture and proper body mechanics are necessary. While sitting, avoid slumping forward, craning your neck out or dropping it down. While standing, keep the knee joint relaxed, not locked. Wear supportive shoes and cushion feet with a mat. Fidgeting is good, and if possible, make bigger movements such as light stretches at your desk.

To prevent falling back into sedentary bad habits, you might want to consider giving yourself regular reminders to change posture. For instance:

  • Set a digital alarm or kitchen timer to ring at 20-30 minute intervals.
  • Use a Fitbit or other wearable device that tracks activities and reminds wearers to move.
  • Try an app such as SitStandCOACH or Rise & Recharge, that messages you to stand or to sit at intervals you’ve set.
  • Consider creating or buying a sit-stand desk that allows you to easily switch between sitting and standing without interfering with work activity and productivity.

If you can train yourself to cycle through the sit-stand switch, you will gain the benefits of both postures. Plus, you’ll minimize the risks of metabolic, mental, and musculoskeletal strain. That’s a double-win, for your mind and body.

 

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