Q&A: Student Standing Desks for SPED

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During the recent live Standing Desks: How and Why Educators Are Using Them webinar, listeners had an opportunity to pose questions about how standing desks can help create a healthy, flexible, and personalized learning environment. (If you missed the webinar, access it online at edWeb and earn a CE credit!)

Here, co-presenter Bob Hill addresses an important question that a number of educators have on their minds.

Q: DO STANDING DESKS WORK FOR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS?

A: Research at the ATTAIN Tech Lab in New Hope, MN, suggests it does. SPED students were encouraged to stand for at least five minutes every half hour. Simple movement may increase focus, concentration, work quality, and overall behavior for students with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum, developmental coordination, emotional and behavioral disorders. Watch a video of an interview with an ATTAIN educator or read the scientific journal article: Sit, Stand, Learn.

While Ergotron desks are not officially ADA-certified, educators find that both the LearnFit and TeachWell® mobile adjustable workstations help level the playing field for many students with physical challenges. For example, students in wheelchairs can wheel right up to the desk and engage more easily with peers while participating in group projects.

You can also access last year’s  School Moves! webinar on-demand – it focuses mainly on the metabolic health and engagement aspects of an active classroom. (CE credit is available.)

Bob Hill,
Education Manager at Ergotron
@LearnFit_Bob#schoolsthatmove

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Scientific concept: Dormant butt syndrome

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active-vs-sedentary-gluteHave you heard about something the media is calling “dormant butt syndrome”? (AKA “gluteal amnesia” or “pancake tush” or “secretarial spread.”) These funny names refer to a serious condition characterized by tight hip flexors and weak gluteal muscles, as a result of sitting for prolonged periods.

A recent study published by Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University suggests dormant butt syndrome may be the surprising cause of pain in the knee, back and hip. How so? When those major muscles are compromised, others must work harder to compensate, which may lead to discomfort or injury in the middle and lower body.

As a remedy, experts recommend unseated activity (such as working at a standing desk), stretches, lunges and other exercises to strengthen glutes.

Find out more about conditions connected to “sitting disease” in the scientific research section of this website.

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Trends emerged from our second JustStand® Index

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Over the past few weeks, we have explored the findings from our second JustStandIndex, highlighting employees’ attitudes towards prolonged sitting. As research continues to prove that sedentary behavior is a threat to our overall health, this issue must be considered each and every day as we strive to #MoveMore.

To conclude, we are rounding up the five key trends that emerged:

#1: Our analysis found that restlessness from sitting is more disruptive to employees than browsing social media. Of the 1,000 working adults who were surveyed, 61 percent of respondents indicated they were more apt to get up and move around than check social media (16%) when feeling restless. When you are feeling restless at your desk, what are you most apt to do?

#2: The bottom line is that employees aren’t happy about sitting all day. Close to 70 percent say they have to sit all day for their jobs – approximately 5.8 hours – and 61 percent strongly dislike or even hate it. Our research underscores the desire among employees for a nontraditional workplace.

#3: There seems to be a false sense of fitness among employees. While 55 percent believe wearables and mobile apps best equip them to improve overall health, most of devices don’t differentiate between when employees sit and stand during the day.

#4: Organizations of all sizes are investing in health and wellness initiatives, however only 23 percent of employees are aware of their company’s wellness program. The Index highlights the continued expansion of wellness programs in modern organizations, and how combating sedentary workstyles is expected to become a mainstream workplace benefit.

#5: Since conducting the first JustStand Index in 2013, awareness of sitting disease has doubled, going from 7 to 15 percent, but is still remains relatively low considering the potential impacts sedentary lifestyles have on health.

It is evident that organizations may be missing an obvious point of employee dissatisfaction: sedentary work environments. In the coming weeks, months and years it is our hope that continued awareness of the dangers of sedentary lifestyles will reach a tipping point, and widespread understanding will influence healthy movement in the corporate workplace.

To download the full e-book visit: www.juststand.org/JSindex

 

 

 

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Increasing awareness of sedentary behavior risks

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In 2013, the first JustStand® Index was released to better understand how sedentary the typical American is each day and to measure the overall awareness of sitting disease and its accompanying risks. In 2016, we revisited the exercise in order to see what changes had taken place over time.

Since the first Index, there has arguably been an increased understanding of the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyles. Several news articles and subsequent expert commentary have been published that highlight the ill effects of too much sitting. It follows then that the latest Index found overall awareness of what is known as “sitting disease” has more than doubled, from 7 percent in 2013 to 15 percent in 2016. In addition, more people believe that prolonged sitting could lead to an early death (from 74 percent to 86 percent).

Interestingly enough, one of the most telling data points is the one that had almost no significant statistical change. When respondents were asked if they personally believe they are at risk for sitting disease, less than half of respondents said yes (48 percent), compared to 47 percent in 2013. While awareness around sitting disease and its effects has risen, people seem to still be unaware that it needs to be addressed now or that they could personally be at risk.

Just-Stand-Index_Changes-Over-Time_640Why is sitting disease such an important issue for employers to consider? Since many employees spend a majority of their time seated at their desks, the workplace is where there is the biggest room for change. Employers should empower their employees to be more active at work and help increase their overall wellness – check out what one expert has to say:

Sedentary behavior is driving up healthcare costs and affecting performance and productivity. One almost shockingly simple solution is to get people moving. There’s so much that an executive or HR professional can’t control when it comes to what impacts employee wellness and productivity – like what people are eating or how much they’re sleeping – so it’s important that they take advantage of their influence in the office and workstation environment. Whether it’s standing meetings, walking paths or sit-stand workstations, employers can embrace movement in a way that has a positive impact on employee health and productivity every day.” – Betsey Banker, CWWPM, CWWS, wellness manager, Ergotron.

Providing a means for increased movement is one ways the employers can help increase their employees overall health.

How you can find ways to MOVE MORE:

As research continues to prove that sedentary behavior is a threat to our overall health, it’s critical to begin taking steps to increase activity throughout the day, beyond the general advice of exercising more. Utilizing tools to create simple lifestyle changes, such as a standing desk at work or a wall mount in a home office are easy ways to incorporate more movement into your day – thus reducing the effects of sitting all day.

To download the full e-book visit: www.juststand.org/JSindex

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Scientific concept: good vs. bad cholesterol

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Many of us are aware that the two basic kinds of cholesterol LDL and HDL can be thought of as the “good” and “bad” type, but do you know which is which?

Maybe this analogy will help you to remember:

LDL are Low density lipids – think of them as dust in a vacuum cleaner hose. LDL are light, fluffy particles that cling to and get stuck in the arteries which results in damage and inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease.

In contrast, HDL are high density lipids – think of them as forming a stiff brush. Since HDL particles are more dense than LDL particles, they dislodge the LDL  when moving through the arteries, just like a brush can clear out the dust from a dirty vacuum cleaner hose.

The optimum number for LDL is less than 100mg/dL and for HDL, it’s 60 mg/dL and higher, according to the National Institutes of Health.

To learn more about movement and heart health, check out research on the science of sitting and standing.

 

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Q&A: Does research prove value of sit-stand desks?

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Q-A_purpleQ: What is your reaction to reports that there isnt good evidence supporting the use of sit-stand desks to reduce sitting time in the workplace? Melissa G., Project Manager

A: Hi Melissa. I think you may be referring to media buzz concerning the recently published  Cochrane review of 20 sit-stand studies. While the authors of this review no doubt meant to supply an objective analysis by which to guide readers, the unfortunate truth is that it has left some employers and workers feeling confused and alarmed by casting doubt on the health benefits of sit-stand interventions in general.

Several pilot investigations have been published indicating that sit-stand desks are both effective and feasible at reducing sitting time (research.juststand.org). And yet the scientific evidence reviewed in this meta-analysis was deemed “uncertain.”

“Based on what we know at the moment, the health benefits of standing at work are not very clear,” says  Jos Verbeek, study author and health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. Indeed, one might suspect that sit-stand desks were meant to substitute the standing posture for sitting, but that is not the case. If one thing has become more obvious in our own research at Ergotron, it is that no single posture should be recommended as the one and only correct posture.

While a strict dose/response ratio is still up to debate, we feel that a postural rotation of 30 minute intervals is both safe and effective. In this case, the goal is not to prove that standing at work is more beneficial than sitting, but that any static posture is to be avoided.

Further, the review concludes that evidence for the health benefits of standing desks is limited, mainly because only a few large,  ongoing studies have been conducted, and more rigorous study is needed. While I support the call for further high-quality research (after all who wouldn’t?), I would hasten to point out that the data already collected is not wholly without value. In fact, it demonstrates  a responsible approach on the part of investigators who use small-scale pilot studies to pave the way for larger, long-term projects.

High caliber longitudinal studies require planning time, dependable funding source(s), and still more time for proper analysis – and all that before publication. All things considered, sedentary behavior research is in its early days as compared to similar research on say, interventions to eradicate tobacco use. Then too, the reviewers in question seem to have underestimated the impact that reductions in sitting time can have on an individual’s health. Consider the results of one study which show that the likelihood of dying from heart disease rises 14% for every hour spent sitting.  According to lead researcher, Dr. Katherine Kulinski, “reducing daily sitting time by even 1 or 2 hours could have a significant and positive impact on future cardiovascular health, and this really should be investigated in future studies,” said

Ergotron continues to support global researchers as they study the effects of sedentary behavior on metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular health, Type II diabetes prevention and so on. It is an exciting time in this research and there is so much more to be learned.

As companies begin to embrace a culture of movement, these reductions, coupled with other activities, like standing or walking meetings, begin to paint a brighter outlook for all.

To avoid established research being taken out of context, it is good to remember the goals of these studies, which often are centered on both reducing sedentary time and studying cumulative impact on health through standing desk use.

For details, read the full review  on the Cochrane Library or listen to a short podcast about updates since publication, or visit our research library on the site (research.juststand.org) for a broader view.

With any behavioral change, modest increases in standing are to be applauded. Employees may not need to stand for hours over the course of the day to enjoy benefits. For instance, a recent study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M  showed that an average decrease of 1.5 hours in workplace sedentariness correlated to impressive gains in employee performance and business results.

With a sit-stand desk, standing and staying active doesn’t have to hamper productivity. Employees can fidget, shift, take a few steps, stretch  –  without getting distracted from work or having to go outside the office to work out.

Keep moving!

carrie s_a-hrCarrie Schmitz, Ergotron Senior Manager,
Human Factors and Ergonomics Research,
@giveafig

 

 

 

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Texas A&M study shows standing boosts productivity

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There is some lively debate going on outside the political campaign trail right now centered around the effectiveness of sit-stand workstations. Sometimes they’re a passing fad, or even a possible health hazard, but currently we’ve seen reports lauding them for significantly improving performance.

Want to Get More Done at the Office? Just Stand,” recommends the Wall Street Journal. And Inc. magazine proclaims: “Your Productivity Will Increase by 46 percent if You Stand at Your Desk, Says Study.”

The reason for the change in reporting? A new study by Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center School of Public Health, which monitored 167 employees at a Texan call center for six months. It showed that employees working at sit-stand desks made 23 to 53 percent more successful calls than co-workers at traditional desks.

The findings were recently published in the Journal IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors.

“We hope this work will show companies that although there might be some costs involved in providing stand-capable workstations, increased employee productivity over time will more than offset these initial expenses,” said Mark Benden, Ph.D., C.P.E., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center and member of the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems, and one of the authors of the study.

Most people who try a sit-stand desk first notice increased productivity, better focus, and less mental fatigue. Next, they notice decreased back pain, body aches, and physical fatigue. Even slight increases in movement throughout the day can lead to significant gains in overall health, personal productivity and organizational results.

The study helps round out the productivity question for business leaders analyzing sit-stand for their organization. Research has already shown the inherent productivity benefits associated with office related ergonomics, even from dual monitor usage. This study moves the productivity dial, and the debate, in a new direction.

Debate is good.

 

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Standing up for office culture

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Office culture is quickly becoming a bigger differentiator when it comes to recruitment and retention of employees versus traditional employee benefits. Whether it’s flexible work hours, limitless snacks, free gym memberships or even a nap room, some companies are going to the extreme to increase employee satisfaction. Yet, despite their willingness to get creative, companies are still missing the mark when it comes to one thing in particular that has a huge influence on employee health and happiness: their working environment.

Results from Ergotron’s JustStand Index show that 68 percent of employees must sit all day for their job, with 61 percent reporting that they dislike or even hate having to do it. Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated that they would prefer the ability to sit and stand at will. The level of dislike for prolonged sitting has reached a level where 17 percent of respondents would prefer to give up a vacation day, 15 percent would rather buy the entire office lunch and more than a third (36 percent) would give up access to social media for an entire month.

Blog 2The ability to get up and move around while still remaining productive can be a win-win scenario for both employees and employers. Mobility and collaboration have become expected perks in today’s corporate world, as younger employees fear being confined to “cube life.” As a result, employees are beginning to demand more flexible work environments. Our research showed that the average respondent spends more than half of the day (12.3 hours) and nearly three quarters of the average work day (5.8 hours) sitting. Using sit-stand workstations to encourage movement can improve culture and health, helping companies attract and retain top talent – all while enhancing productivity.

How Can You Take a Stand?

A quick and easy way to improve workplace culture is to offer sit-stand workstations. These desks are a step in the right direction for creating a work environment that promotes wellness while addressing one of the major reasons cited when discussing employee unrest or unhappiness. In addition to increasing worker satisfaction, studies suggest that sit-stand solutions may provide some health benefits to employees.

To download the full ebook, please visit: www.juststand.org/JSindex

 

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Scientific concept: movement and blood pressure linked

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Your doctor says you have high blood pressure (BP) with a reading of 140/90, but what do those numbers really mean? The larger top number, systolic, measures the pressure when the heart squeezes (beats) and blood moves out along the vessels. The smaller bottom number, diastolic, measures when the heart rests between beats and refills with blood. High BP or hypertension is a warning sign that your heart is overworked and at risk of heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm.

The World Health Organization says high blood pressure threatens more than 1 in 5 adults globally. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent high BP. For one, research suggests moving more may help – think of physical activity as an all-around release valve for your heart. Find answers to your frequently asked questions about hypertension here.

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Raise yourself out of your chair to raise your productivity

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By now, the term “sitting disease” and the effects of prolonged sitting have been well documented. Yet, despite the increased attention regarding the harmful effects, many employers have not made the connection between extended sitting and the physical health of their employees – and in turn, the overall health of their organization.

According to the results of our just released JustStand® Index, restlessness from prolonged sitting is more disruptive to organizational productivity than visiting social media sites. While many employers are worried about cyberloafing – personal use of a company’s internet access while at work – and its impact on productivity, it’s clear that employees are spending more time moving around (61 percent) than cyberloafing (a combined 39 percent).

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A majority (58 percent) of employees admit to taking two to five breaks a day and another 25 percent are taking more than six breaks per day to relieve the discomfort, restlessness and fatigue caused by prolonged sitting. While taking regular breaks is important, these findings indicate that employees are spending excessive time away from their desks due to the discomfort of prolonged sitting.

What’s more, outside research suggests that when interrupted it can take a worker more than 20 minutes to get back on task. This means that time, productivity and ultimately, money, are all unnecessarily lost each day.

How to help your office MOVE MORE:

As organizations look for ways to improve employee productivity and minimize distractions, we believe it’s critical to examine employees’ time spent seated at their desks and find ways to alleviate their discomfort. One potential solution is changing up the traditional workstation composition. Providing employees with height-adjustable sit-stand workstations gives them much more flexibility while working. They can easily move from sitting to standing and stretch every half hour. These workstations are an excellent and popular wellness benefit – you can check out these testimonials to see the difference sit-stand workstations can make.

To download the full e-book visit: www.juststand.org/JSindex

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