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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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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Warning: your co-workers will be so jealous

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With the rise (literally) of the standing desk, you may be one of the 67% that would jump at the chance to grab one if it was offered at your workplace. After all, the health benefits of moving more throughout the day will enhance your life, and maybe even lengthen it. It can improve your mood, energy output, and yes, moving your desk up and down looks really cool!

If you do install one, get ready for a lot of questions and general curiosity from your work mates. “What’s that?,” everyone will ask when they first see you popping up above the cube wall. Don’t be surprised if interest turns to envy when you start showing off your relaxed posture, enhanced productivity and laser-point focus.

People can’t help talking about it. Like Jared S., who told us: “Still keep getting funny looks from people in the office. Well worth it!” Or Moses E., who said concisely: “Why sit when you can stand?” People’s reasons for standing and moving more are as varied as can be.

Want to join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Here are a few hashtags to get started: #SitLess #MoveMore #JustStand #StandingDesk.

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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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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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Up & Moving: The 2016 JustStand Index

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Since launching the first JustStand® Index in 2013, more attention has been given to the dangerous metabolic effects of sedentary lifestyles, or sitting disease as it is more commonly known. Although awareness is growing, there has been little focus on how sitting all day affects the overall health of an organization. We’ve seen the workplace change drastically – with a new generation of workers and innovations in technology – but, for the most part, employees still remain in office chairs. And many of them aren’t happy about it.

In the second JustStand Index, which launched today, we aimed to uncover how sedentary lifestyles are impacting the productivity, engagement and well-being of employees. The report analyzes how sitting impacts key aspects of the workplace – here are the key findings:

  • Company productivity: When feeling restless, employees are more likely to get up and move around (61 percent) than browse the internet or social media, also known as cyberloafing (39 percent). While taking regular breaks is important, the data suggests that employees are spending excessive time away from their desks due to restlessness and physical discomfort from prolonged sitting.
  • Office culture: Over 60 percent of employees dislike or even hate sitting, yet nearly 70 percent do it all day, every day.
  • Employee health: Considering the influx of wearable technology, people are presumably more health-conscious than ever before, but may have been lulled into a false sense of fitness and health. Sixty-two percent of employees indicated that they get the recommended 2.5 hours a week of exercise. However, sitting too much at work, despite physical activity undertaken throughout the week, is detrimental to the human body.
  • Wellness programs: Despite health and wellness programs in corporations being a stated priority, only 23 percent of employees are aware of a wellness program at their company and of that population, only 35 percent of these programs offer alternative workstation as a benefit options to help avoid prolonged sitting.

The JustStand Index also measured the change in awareness from the initial report in 2013. While awareness of sitting disease has doubled (15 percent), it has yet to achieve widespread understanding. And while 86 percent of people believe that prolonged sitting increases the risk of early mortality, only 48 percent of people believe they are personally at risk. This demonstrates the need for further education and conversation throughout the business community.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be exploring these key findings in more detail. In the meantime, visit here to download the full eBook.

 

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Q&A: Standing desks require training, like a marathon?

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Q-A_purpleQ: I’ve seen news reports that say standing at a desk for long stretches can be a health hazard if you don’t build up to it gradually. Do I need to train to use my standing desk, like for a marathon? – Michael M., Graphic Designer

A: In light of recent warnings by the media on the risks of using standing desks for prolonged periods, I’d like to provide my perspective, which is based on years of experience and observation in ergonomics research.

The sad fact is that employees have traditionally had to stand — or sit — for prolonged periods, with no training in proper body mechanics. Early in my own career, I worked in the publishing industry as a photographer, production artist, technical illustrator, and so on. In those roles, I spent a lot of time on my feet. While stools were available, it turned out that sitting didn’t give me the mobility I needed to run back and forth between tasks.

No one suggested I get training on how to work standing up. In fact, now that I think about it, I wasn’t given training on standing before becoming a waitress, factory worker, or amusement park mascot either – and I spent most of one pregnancy hoofing it as a department store clerk. I didn’t suffer from all that standing, but I would certainly have benefited from training, during an employee safety orientation, say.

In contrast, when I had jobs that kept me sedentary, I was miserable with back pain. It was so bad for so long that I considered applying for disability if I couldn’t stay at my job. Can you guess if anyone trained me on the safe way to sit? Afraid not. I had to find the answers on my own, a process that led me into a career as a researcher in human factors and ergonomics.

As a responsible desk manufacturer, Ergotron is at the forefront of scientific research on workplace wellness. In future blog posts we will detail our guidelines for establishing a work routine that helps mitigate the risks of either sitting or standing for long periods.

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

 

 

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

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Q&A: How much should I stand?   

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“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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Which direction are you headed?

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Welcome to the MoveMore blog!

Which direction will you go? This way, that way, or somewhere else? One way leads to sedentary behavior, a silent killer, but the other way leads to physical activity, a life-giver. Exercise and N.E.A.T (non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise) offer a parallel path to health. We need both.

Moving more throughout your whole day, sometimes vigorously, sometimes lightly, is what will help you stay on the positive road to better health.

We have a vision of where the Wellness Uprising is heading, based on our continuing support of scientific research in the classroom and the cubicle. So we’ll be responding to your questions, offering up perspectives on the latest research into reducing sedentary behavior, illustrating some of the science behind the importance of sit-stand movement, and poking some fun at our fundamental human resistance to change.

Plus, this blog will introduce a new way for you to connect with like-minded seekers. After all, we’re on the road together, and it’s an active bunch to travel with.

You are here. It doesn’t matter where you entered. It doesn’t matter how you begin. Just jump in with us!

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