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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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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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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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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Calling all sit-stand champions! New resources for you

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We’ve added a new Resources Center on Juststand.org with even more information to equip employees asking for movement-friendly workstations — and to educate employers on the many organizational benefits of creating a culture of movement. Visit Juststand.org/toolkit to learn more.

Our downloadable WorkFit Champion Toolkit includes:

*  “Ask Your Boss” templates for employees to download and customize to their situation and management structure with annotated research citations help support the request.

*  Checklist and talking points for wellness champions, plus our e-books, white papers, Infographics and tip sheet.

The Resources Center also links to other information throughout JustStand.org, making it a great starting point for people when looking to gather information to share with their stakeholders.

 

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On-demand Webinar! Build a business case for sit-stand

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ON-DEMAND WEBINAR NOW AVAILABLE

With so many organizations looking for ways to reduce employee absenteeism and presenteeism, improve productivity, and lower healthcare costs, this complimentary 30-minute on-demand webinar followed by Q&A, helps HR and wellness professionals learn why standing at work is gaining popularity and how to make a business case for sit-stand solutions. Attendees who work in the fields of health, safety, wellness or ergonomics will benefit most from this webinar.

This webinar will help you address such questions as:

* Why is standing at work such a focus all of a sudden?

* What research has been done on sit-stand interventions?

* How can I build a business case for investing in sit-stand?

Ergotron_BCFSS_CTA

 

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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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Top 10 tips for boosting your workplace wellness

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The first annual Higher Health Symposium at Northwestern Health Sciences University, in Bloomington, MN, was a fast-paced event that shed light on new research on workplace wellness. Hundreds of attendees and two Twin Cities television stations turned out to learn about the innovative solutions to health challenges in the workplace.

Carrie Schmitz, Marketing Research Manager at Ergotron, and Betsey Banker, Ergotron Vertical Market Manager for Wellness, were among the panel of industry experts. Here are the top 10 takeaways from their popular presentation, Worksite Wellness: Embracing a culture of movement for greater health and productivity:

  1. We’ve known for a long time that physical activity promotes wellness, but it’s in the last 20 years or so that the research has really started to accumulate about physical inactivity, in part because of the increase in sedentary jobs.
     
  2. In a recent survey of 1,000 knowledge workers, people reported spending only three hours standing or being active during the day, which is already not much, but might even be an overstatement.
     
  3. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and is responsible for nearly one in 10 deaths in the U.S. alone.
     
  4. For the first time in history, our own lifestyle choices turn out to be more deadly than infectious diseases. What we eat and how much we move are the crucial factors that will determine both the quality and length of our lives.
     
  5. For employers, the cost associated with physically inactive employees is 15.3% more than those who are physically active.
     
  6. High-intensity physical activity doesn’t keep these effects from occurring. As one study concluded, “an hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting.”
     
  7. Sitting 6+ hours at work increases risks of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
     
  8. There are costs associated with all of these things. Stress – something many of us are familiar with – is estimated to cost $200-$300 billion a year in lost productivity.
     
  9. Low intensity, “non-exercise” activities like standing and walking are much more important than we realized. In fact, low-level activities play a crucial metabolic role and account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate- to high-intensity activity like running. We’re just scratching the surface of this incredibly important public health issue.
     
  10. Hundreds of researchers are currently actively collecting data that will inform recommendations on how often we need to move, how long we need to engage in that movement, and at what intensity. Here are just a few results from the research on the science of sedentary behavior.
     

Take a look at pdf’s of slides from this presentation, posted on the Higher Health Symposium website.

 

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