Swap Happy Hour for Healthy Hour

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

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

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

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

Keep the festive feeling going all year!

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[Movie] Rethinking Workspaces: Design for Movement & Flexibility

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

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

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How to choose the right standing desk

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Ergotron WorkFit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MoveMore 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Zombie attack!: fighting Halloween weight gain horrors 

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mm_blog_main_halloween

You, a Halloween sugar zombie? Yes, you! The dead giveaway?  Any time of day, at home or at work, your inner ghoul slips into attack mode, devouring every treat in sight.

It’s never easy to stay resolved to live and eat healthy, but Halloween is an especially scary holiday. And it’s the start of the holiday weight gain season that includes Thanksgiving feasts and concludes with New Year’s Eve revelry. (Then on January 1st the diet detox begins…)

So, how much candy craving temptation will you face this Halloween? Ergotron’s own Bob Hill crunches the numbers.

“I went to Cub Foods last night and got distracted by the approximate 40 feet of shelf space dedicated to Halloween candy.  I like a Twix and Kit-Kat as much as the next guy, but …

Curious, I couldn’t resist doing some in-store math:

The average bag of pre-packaged Halloween candy has 15 servings per big bag x 125 calories per serving = 1,875 calories per big bag of Halloween candy, as a guesstimate.

Now, how many big bags of packaged trick-or-treat goodies were in this Halloween display?  These are approximate numbers:

  • 40 feet of shelf length x 7 shelves high
  • 40 different “columns” of bagged candy stacked about 20 bags deep = 800 bags of candy per shelf
  • 800 bags per shelf x 7 shelves = 5,600 bags total
  • 5,600 big bags of individually wrapped Halloween candy x 1,875 calories per big bag = 10,500,000 calories of Halloween candy in that aisle.”

Good to know – big box stores hold enough Halloween candy to outlast the wildest cravings. But before you let your food monster feast on all that candy, check out this chart showing how to work off the calories in those bite-size indulgences:

Charleston Chew bar (10 minutes of trick-or-treating)

Hershey’s bar (15 minutes of dancing the Monster Mash)

100 Grand  bar (5 minutes of running from villagers with pitchforks)

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (3 hours of standing versus sitting)

Our Calorie-Burn Calculator shows how adding more standing to your day can help you come back to the living after a feeding frenzy.

Beyond calories, health-conscious parents with trick-or-treating little goblins dread the sugar shock. One pillowcase can hold many pounds of loot and grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that children consume less than 25 grams of added sugar daily. Those fun-size candies add up quickly! An Almond Joy clocks in at 8 grams, Baby Ruth at 10 grams, Dots at 11 grams, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans at 7 grams, Milk Duds at 6.3 grams, SweeTarts (are a bargain) at 2.4 grams, Skittles at 14.5, and Whoppers at 13 grams.

But even endocrinologists specializing in diabetes and child obesity experts warn parents against demonizing sugar. That just makes it more irresistible. You can set limits, though, to keep Halloween candy consumption from getting out of control. For instance, nix the trick-or-treat pillowcase in favor of a small plastic pumpkin. Or ration the candy: give out one piece for every year of age on the holiday, and then one piece each day after.

For a look at how the inner candyfreak comes unleashed on Halloween, watch this hilarious prank video from the Jimmy Kimmel show. For five years, they have asked parents to pretend they annihilated  their children’s candy stash. Some kids are surprisingly forgiving, while others throw monstrous fits. And who can really blame them?

#HeyJimmyKimmelIToldMyKidsIAteAllTheirHalloweenCandy

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

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Shadow_WorkFit_leap (1)

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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Sit-Stand-Switch_Animation-Final_2016
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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Sit-Stand-Champion_B

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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