Work in an office? Sit too much? Get into the movement mindset!
Maybe you’re wondering “What’s a ‘movement mindset,’ anyhow?” It’s an online resource, at themovementmindset.com, featuring discrete yoga poses to do at your desk.
A movement mindset seeks to counteract the harms of sedentary office life – stiff neck, back pain, headaches, lack of focus, and more – by alternating between sitting, standing, and moving throughout the day. Any company can give its employees the freedom to move more in the workplace. Ergotron delivers the sit-stand workstations that make it possible to do so while at a desk.
Discover a better way to work, and a happier, healthier you!
Now in its third year of existence, Active Working Summit, held last week in London, UK, was attended by public health experts, opinion leaders, researchers and decision makers responsible for wellness, productivity and engagement of office workers. The event speakers were both engaging and informative, with a clear message ringing consistently throughout the day: we have a ticking time bomb of health issues being created by the way that office workers carry out their work each day. Yet, worryingly, as the speakers at the Active Working Summit explained, the issue is not gaining the attention it requires and therefore the right actions are not being taken. Here are the five key takeaways from the event.
Health and wellbeing remains on the periphery of company priorities when it should be at the heart of business strategy
Dame Carol Black, adviser on Health and Work to Public Health England and NHS England, argued that organisations are failing to take the issue of health and wellbeing in the workplace seriously enough. Her view was that it cannot be regarded an ‘add-on’ and there must be a ‘total worker’ health approach by moving health and wellbeing into the very fabric of the organisation. Her message was a strategic one for businesses therefore: ‘embedment, not add-on’. So, attitudes need to change and senior executives need to show leadership in facilitating this change.
Investment in health and wellbeing at work makes business sense and can be measured
But if Dame Black argued that not enough is being done for workplace wellbeing, Dr Michael Brannan, Deputy National lead for adult health and wellbeing, Public Health England, emphasised the commercial common sense of investing in health and wellbeing at work. He explained that as the UK has some of the longest working hours in Europe with 60% of waking hours spent at work, it isn’t an option to not focus on health at work. But more importantly, from a commercial perspective, he told the audience that for every £2 spent on the health and wellbeing of employees, there’s a return of £34.
Simple solutions can drive quick results
The average UK office worker sits 10 hours each day, with almost 70% of sitting taking place at work and 73 per cent only leaving their desk for toilet or tea breaks, per a shocking new study. Growing scientific evidence continues to draw our attention to multiple health risks (including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and mental health) associated with excessive and prolonged sitting. All the speakers verified that the simple process of standing more often could therefore yield dramatic improvements in the health of the average office worker. The goal for an average day was to accumulate two hours of standing throughout day with the goal, eventually of four hours.
Wearable technology is not the only answer
Dr Dunstan also discussed the benefits that the huge expansion in wearable technology usage has brought; in particular, the awareness of need to be more active and better understanding of how to measure activity. But he was also quick to add a note of caution stressing that such devices tend to drive users towards focusing on the vigorous activity side, but don’t help break up long periods of sitting. This conclusion is what led Dr Dunstan to play a part in the development of the ‘Rise and Recharge’ app which is aimed at solving the issue of interrupting prolonged sitting, which is both the real danger but also a simple thing to fix.
Culture is all important in driving change
Time and again during the day the speakers referenced the pernicious culture that exists in offices where a person’s productivity is linked to the time they are at their desk. The point was made that we need to turn the tables and rather than ask ‘why aren’t you at your desk?’ to ‘why are you always at your desk?’ Breaking this culture is hard though. As Dr. James Levine pointed out; while it’s okay to be seen to be going to the gym, if you stand up at work (perhaps with a sit-stand workstation), you are seen as ‘just a bit weird!’
In short, change needs to start at the proverbial top. Business leaders need to take a stand here themselves—by providing tools and products that will change the habit of sitting for so long and encourage attitudes to change by changing their own behaviours.
How are your new resolutions to get back into (or start building) habits of health coming? The holidays were a glorious excuse to indulge in frequently unhealthy food and drink and party-going. Come February, it’s hard to put aside the camaraderie of those festive gatherings in favor of a solitary grind on a treadmill.
But what if you could merge the team-building and social aspects of office Happy Hours with the benefits of regular exercise? Here’s an idea: invite coworkers to a “Healthy Hour.”
Instead of the local watering hole, invite your cube-mate as a guest to your gym. Or organize an introductory yoga class for your team. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the more traditional active office endeavors: sign up for a company volleyball, softball or bowling league (that last one usually involves adult beverages, too; just don’t forget what you’re trying to accomplish).
If you use fitness trackers (or apps), connect with your coworkers, and encourage each other to reach goals, with group celebrations when they’re achieved. That way, your Happy Hour celebrations are just incorporated into your Healthy Hour gatherings.
Technology allows us to be more mobile than ever before. So why do we keep sitting around? Ergotron is rethinking the way we design environments to allow more flexibility, greater collaboration and opportunities to move more. Sit back and enjoy this informative video on how sitting creeps into every area of our lives. It’s time to stand up for ourselves and a healthier workplace.
After reading the mountain of evidence that shows how terrible prolonged sitting is for your health, you’ve officially jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. So now what? There are dozens of different standing desks on the market. We developed this guide to choosing the right one for your unique situation. It breaks out the most important questions to ask yourself before investing in any sit-stand desk.
Questions to consider:
1-Do you want a desk that adjusts to both sitting and standing positions?
We follow the rule of “everything in moderation,” and encourage people to sit and stand during the day. After about 30 minutes seated, switch to standing for 30 minutes, and so on. If you choose a fixed-height standing desk, though, it may be difficult to switch it up while remaining at your workstation. An extra-tall stool or chair is necessary.
2-Is the desk easy to adjust up and down?
Choose the right solution for you: A powered standing desk with an electric motor can move a lot of weight on the desktop, whereas a standing desk with manual adjustment can move more quickly, meaning you’ll be better inclined to change your position as you desire. Check that the design doesn’t include a ton of cranks, buttons or locks that can slow you down. Or sharp, exposed mechanics that could pinch fingers.
3-Will you share the desk with multiple people?
If your office uses a hot-desk system or runs multiple shifts necessitating shared workspaces, it’s essential to have a height-adjustable desk with a broad range of adjustment points from low to high. That way, a person who is 6’1” can use the same desk as a person who is 5 feet. (Use this ergonomic assessment tool to check the fitness of your workstation.)
Look and Feel
Questions to consider:
1-Do you want to convert a traditional desk to a standing desk?
When you don’t want to buy a full standing workstation, or completely rearrange your space, consider an attachment that goes on top of an existing desk. An adjustable add-on unit is flexible and portable, so you can move it from desk to desk, or office to office. If you invest in one yourself, you can even move it from job to job.
2-How large of a desk do you want?
Do you like to spread out when you work, or are you more of a minimalist with little extra stuff? Standing desks come in all sizes and shapes, so pick the one that best fits you, your equipment, workflow, and space.
3-What kind of environment do you work in?
If you work in an office, you’ll probably prefer your desk to have a sleek, professional look that matches your décor. If you work in a lab or industrial environment, you’ll probably need something more rugged that holds more weight.
4-Do you need your desk to be mobile?
If your work environment tends to move around often, or you need to frequently access cords and cables in the back of your desk, think about investing in a desk with casters, to make movement quick and painless.
Questions to consider:
1-What’s your budget?
2-What level of quality do you expect?
3-Does the desk come with a warranty? If so, how long is it?
Of course, some standing desks are less expensive than others, but don’t be too quick to choose the low-cost option. When you invest in a standing desk, you’re investing in your health and well-being. Consider the level of quality you’re looking for, and how long you want the desk to last. Also, a robust warranty and service package are nice to have in your back pocket, in case an issue comes up.
To make it easy for you to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, we’ve assembled this guide to popular sit-stand products and related gear! And as always, if you need help, please reach out.
Perfect for the college student in a cramped dorm room, or the busy professional on the go, the Lift24 portable desk is a space-saving way to sit or stand while using a laptop or other device.
And for the multitasking family member, the Hub27 corrals and charges devices, plus doubles as a wall-mounted standing desk. Sort mail, make notes or do some computing, then close and lock it. The glass door acts as a dry erase message board.
With the ultra-popular elliptical trainer, your loved ones can work out while they work or watch TV, which means less time at the gym and more time to spend with you! Other options: Floor mat, stretchy bands, hand weights, mini-stepper and balance board.
We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. These headphones will help you escape the crazy sleigh ride, and find your own peace on earth.
It’s been a month since we presented our Building a Business Case for Sit-Stand at Work webinar (available on-demand). There was a lot of interest in the topic and we received several questions after the Q&A segment, so let’s address them here.
Q: When did Ergotron become involved with the sit-stand workstyle concept?
A: In 1994 we introduced our first sit-stand monitor arms – back then for CRTs! But really the sit-stand concept started with healthcare. Nurses were spending too many hours on their feet, so Ergotron designed carts that would allow them to sit while charting. In 2009 we launched our first WorkFit® sit-stand desk and in 2010 we launched JustStand.org, as a hub and community for the latest research, tools and ideas about moving more. And we’re still innovating with products like the LearnFit® student standing desk for classrooms.
Q: I’d like to make a business case to my boss for a sit-stand desk. I’m not an HR professional. Where do I even start?
A: First of all, bravo! You’re not alone in being hesitant to request a workstation upgrade – only 16 percent of employees surveyed have asked for one. Begin with our “Ask Your Boss” letter template (part of a downloadable WorkFit Champion Toolkit). Then customize it based on your unique circumstances. If you have special health concerns that are exacerbated by sitting, talk to your doctor about using a sit-stand workstation. Most companies will try to accommodate an employee with a medical condition.
Or, if your boss will only be convinced by fiscal facts and figures, add an ROI angle to your letter, such as what this employee wrote to her manager:
“Outfitting our workplace with ergonomic sit-stand desks will affect the bottom line in a positive way. Let’s say every workplace injury costs the company $5,000, taking into account lost productivity, increased healthcare costs, etc. If an employee approaches you before becoming injured at the workplace from a chronic disease or repetitive strain injury, you save $5,000 (minus the cost of the desk). The return on investment is substantial. Not to mention all the other benefits: employees who sit and stand up during the workday are more comfortable and more alert, and as a result, more productive.”
Q: Do you recommend any small tools or gadgets to help me add more movement to my sit-stand routine?
A: Sure! Many of us have tried a variety of active-office gear with positive results. Your experience may vary, so listen to your body and have fun experimenting. Carrie, a certified ergonomic assessor, says her anti-fatigue mat gets a lot of use. When standing, it not only cushions her feet, but it encourages her to move. (One bonus: the cushioning in any one spot of a mat compresses and provides less padding after a while, so you naturally step to another spot.) Denise, a designer, uses a stand-up task stool with her sit-stand desk. She likes to adjust it to different heights, depending on her fatigue level, and “perch” on it throughout the day. When on a long phone call, for instance, she raises it high and rocks back and forth, which keeps her legs moving and engaged. Colette, a product manager, likes to use a footstool so she can alternate putting a leg up when standing, or a balance board when movement helps her stay more engaged and alert.
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)
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?
Have 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.
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 Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)