Work in an office? Sit too much? Get into the movement mindset!
Maybe you’re wondering “What’s a ‘movement mindset,’ anyhow?” It’s an online resource, at themovementmindset.com, featuring discrete yoga poses to do at your desk.
A movement mindset seeks to counteract the harms of sedentary office life – stiff neck, back pain, headaches, lack of focus, and more – by alternating between sitting, standing, and moving throughout the day. Any company can give its employees the freedom to move more in the workplace. Ergotron delivers the sit-stand workstations that make it possible to do so while at a desk.
Discover a better way to work, and a happier, healthier you!
Now in its third year of existence, Active Working Summit, held last week in London, UK, was attended by public health experts, opinion leaders, researchers and decision makers responsible for wellness, productivity and engagement of office workers. The event speakers were both engaging and informative, with a clear message ringing consistently throughout the day: we have a ticking time bomb of health issues being created by the way that office workers carry out their work each day. Yet, worryingly, as the speakers at the Active Working Summit explained, the issue is not gaining the attention it requires and therefore the right actions are not being taken. Here are the five key takeaways from the event.
Health and wellbeing remains on the periphery of company priorities when it should be at the heart of business strategy
Dame Carol Black, adviser on Health and Work to Public Health England and NHS England, argued that organisations are failing to take the issue of health and wellbeing in the workplace seriously enough. Her view was that it cannot be regarded an ‘add-on’ and there must be a ‘total worker’ health approach by moving health and wellbeing into the very fabric of the organisation. Her message was a strategic one for businesses therefore: ‘embedment, not add-on’. So, attitudes need to change and senior executives need to show leadership in facilitating this change.
Investment in health and wellbeing at work makes business sense and can be measured
But if Dame Black argued that not enough is being done for workplace wellbeing, Dr Michael Brannan, Deputy National lead for adult health and wellbeing, Public Health England, emphasised the commercial common sense of investing in health and wellbeing at work. He explained that as the UK has some of the longest working hours in Europe with 60% of waking hours spent at work, it isn’t an option to not focus on health at work. But more importantly, from a commercial perspective, he told the audience that for every £2 spent on the health and wellbeing of employees, there’s a return of £34.
Simple solutions can drive quick results
The average UK office worker sits 10 hours each day, with almost 70% of sitting taking place at work and 73 per cent only leaving their desk for toilet or tea breaks, per a shocking new study. Growing scientific evidence continues to draw our attention to multiple health risks (including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and mental health) associated with excessive and prolonged sitting. All the speakers verified that the simple process of standing more often could therefore yield dramatic improvements in the health of the average office worker. The goal for an average day was to accumulate two hours of standing throughout day with the goal, eventually of four hours.
Wearable technology is not the only answer
Dr Dunstan also discussed the benefits that the huge expansion in wearable technology usage has brought; in particular, the awareness of need to be more active and better understanding of how to measure activity. But he was also quick to add a note of caution stressing that such devices tend to drive users towards focusing on the vigorous activity side, but don’t help break up long periods of sitting. This conclusion is what led Dr Dunstan to play a part in the development of the ‘Rise and Recharge’ app which is aimed at solving the issue of interrupting prolonged sitting, which is both the real danger but also a simple thing to fix.
Culture is all important in driving change
Time and again during the day the speakers referenced the pernicious culture that exists in offices where a person’s productivity is linked to the time they are at their desk. The point was made that we need to turn the tables and rather than ask ‘why aren’t you at your desk?’ to ‘why are you always at your desk?’ Breaking this culture is hard though. As Dr. James Levine pointed out; while it’s okay to be seen to be going to the gym, if you stand up at work (perhaps with a sit-stand workstation), you are seen as ‘just a bit weird!’
In short, change needs to start at the proverbial top. Business leaders need to take a stand here themselves—by providing tools and products that will change the habit of sitting for so long and encourage attitudes to change by changing their own behaviours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’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.
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.