Light Exercise at the Office: Organizing for Workplace Health

standing desk for office health

Organizing the office for better health only requires some initiative and open communication with your fellow office associates. May is Global and Health and Fitness Month­­—the perfect excuse to get everyone at work standing and walking for better health. It all starts with education.

Spreading the News about Sitting Too Much

Informing your colleagues about the many ways a sedentary office day can impact health is the first step toward motivating them to wellness actions.  Send out emails to colleagues letting them know about the detriment of sitting all day  at your desk including how prolonged sitting is associated with a significantly higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Muscle and joint problems

Some have gone on to say that the office chair is worse for your health than smoking!

Informing the Office About the Benefits of Walking

Now that you have educated them on the bad stuff, let them know about the good stuff.

Walking for about 20 minutes a day can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent.

Get Everyone Involved in an Office Walking Group

  1. Send out office email notifications regarding time and day so everyone can get involved easily walking together outside on nice days
  2. Have a set schedule with a destination in mind. Plan a walk at a local forest preserve during lunch hour or a walk around the office park before work starts in the morning
  3. Suggest walking apps. App pedometers ( many are free to download) have been found to encourage physical activity by offering real-time information on calories burned and walking distances achieved. You can also get competitive and make it fun. See who burns the most calories in half an hour!

Give Insight on the Benefits of Standing at Your Desk

Standing is another low impact approach for improving health at the office.  Along with informing the office staff about standing desks, also inform HR on the health benefits that sit-stand workstations can bring to the workplace.

Share the research: Employees who have used standing desks regularly report an 88% increase in productivity and a 69% reduction in discomfort at their workstation.

Learn more about the 7 health benefits of a Standing Desk 

Three Ways to Reduce Back Pain at Work

Reduce Back Pain with Standing Desks

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.

Excluding more obvious causes of pain, such as traumatic injury and heavy lifting, most long-term back pain is attributed to our office workstations. Poor posture, poorly positioned equipment, such as the placement of our keyboard and mouse, and the excessive periods which we sit during the work day all contribute to chronic back pain. Here are simple solutions to help reduce back pain at the office.

Moving Throughout the Day

Maintaining flexibility versus continuous sitting is a remedy for most office-related backaches. Long periods of sitting exert pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs, which you may not feel until you get up. Then the sharp pain sets in. Take periodic breaks throughout the day. Walk around the office and stretch. Sit-Stand Workstations also encourage regular movement, maintain blood flow, and offer all the benefits of low-impact flexible movement without exertion.  Learn more about how sit-stands help back pain and provide other health benefits. 

Proper Workstation Arrangement

The impact of poorly arranged computer equipment is subtle and seems completely unrelated to back pain. However, you will begin to feel the difference by using these ergonomic tips:

Monitor placement-Position your monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level. Use a monitor stand if necessary. Place the monitor about arm’s length away.

Keyboard placement-Keep your keyboard directly in front of you when typing.  Keep your arms bent in an L-shape and elbows at your sides. Use a keyboard tray to position your keyboard correctly if needed.

Keep your mouse close to you- When you place your mouse on a desk, the tendency is to reach for it, causing pains in our arm, which can lead to pain in your back as your body tries to compensate for the difficult position in which you are working. The shorter the reach the better when mousing.

Improving Your Posture

Sitting correctly is one of the most important actions you can take against office-related back pain. Make sure your office chair is at the correct height. Ideally, your forearms should be straight and level with the floor as you type at your keyboard. Here are other tips for posture:

  • Don’t cross your legs
  • Don’t slouch
  • Either keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest
  • If you find yourself frequently changing your position in the chair, use a backrest to keep a consistently secure and comfortable sitting posture

 

Should Kids Be Using Standing Desks?

Standing desks in classrooms

As standing desks become a part of offices and home offices for promoting wellness, their application for classrooms to benefit the health of students has also become a growing trend.  Combined with a push to offer healthier school lunches and increase the opportunity for fitness at school, sit-stand desks have been viewed as an additional benefit for classrooms. Here are just a few of the advantages.

Boosting Focus

Standing increases blood flow to the brain without the intense rigor of physical exercise, which means enhanced focus in the classroom. By simply standing while learning, this moderate fitness for a one week period is equal to a child walking five miles. The use of stand up desks was also associated with significant improvements (7-14%) in executive function and working memory capabilities.

Improving Classroom Behavior

In a recent study by Texas A&N University, standing while learning increased classroom attention and engagement by 12%. That translates into seven more minutes per hour of engaged learning, which is otherwise lost in disruptive behavior by students and teachers managing that behavior.

Improving Overall Health and Fitness

The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.*  Research shows that standing helps burn 17-35% more calories than sitting. Standing also helps prevent Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and improve BMI—all critical factors in combating an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Advocating for Standing Desks at Your School

Speak to your child’s teacher about supporting a sit-stand initiative. Approach parent/teacher organizations and any administrators or committees involved in supporting health at school.

Do Your Homework

Be prepared to present all the health benefits of standing desks in the classroom. Learn more here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4929187/

Get Students Involved

Engaging student councils at school gets kids actively involved in the health of their fellow students and helps support your arguments for standing desks in school.

Launch a Fund-Raising Initiative

Schools will always be supportive when it comes to improving student health, but budgets will inevitably be a roadblock. If your plan is approved by administrative committees, creative fund-raising efforts can help generate the money necessary to bring sit-stands into the classroom without impacting school budget constraints.

Learn more about flexible and easy to use standing desk technology: Standing Desks Options

 

 

* https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

 

Programmers and Sit-Stand Workstations

programmers and sit-stand desks

As a programmer, you can spend 7-10 hours a day focused on coding, which also means all that time seated at a traditional computer workstation. The unhealthy impact of chronic sitting can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Standing is an ideal solution for healthier work at a computer. However, if you decide to stand at work, what equipment should you consider that specifically fits your profession?

Sit-Stand Workstations That Adjust Easily

A static sit-stand desk forces you to either stand entirely while working or take a break, while some adjustable sit-stands may require interrupting your task to make the manual changes to height. When as a programmer you are engaged with a piece of intense code, that may not be an option. Select a sit-stand workstation that easily adjusts from sitting to standing positions, so no focus on a task is lost. Smooth Lift Technology sit-stands feature that intuitive adjustability, so you need only rise while grasping the lift adjustment lever, then grasping the adjustment lever once again to lower the desk back to a seated position. Make sure your sit-stand also has a good spectrum of height adjustment options, which is especially important for tall programmers.

The Flexibility of Multiple Monitors

As a coder you definitely need more than one monitor, so converting to a sit-stand desk shouldn’t mean a compromise.  Make sure your standing desk offers the option for multiple-monitor arms.

Storage Space

Changing over to a standing desk also shouldn’t mean giving up on other advantages of a standard computer workstation, like storage space. Storage space and work surfaces are still essential, so having a standing desk designed with added work and storage spaces allows you to incorporate a hot cup of coffee, notepads, pens and your smartphone into your standing workspace.

standing desk with workspace

Cord Management

One of the big advantages of a static workstation is that all the wires running to your electronics stay still. With a standing desk, continual movement up and down can lead to stress on power cables, tangled cords, and sometimes accidental unplugged peripherals as you change position. Check your sit-stand for cord management design features so that wires move seamlessly with your changing position.

How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

standing desk usage

You’re already aware of the benefits that a standing desk can offer. Your question now is, how should you use it?

How long you should stand is open for debate. However, some ergonomic and health experts generally agree on 20-minute intervals. Briefly standing for 5-20 minutes every hour causes muscle contractions in your back and legs. These contractions stimulate enzyme production that breaks down the fat in your bloodstream.  Starting out you may find that standing that period of time may be tiring. Listen to your body and sit down as needed.

Using Your Standing Desk For Fitness

Developing a routine around standing and sitting is one way to help improve your standing stamina. Start out standing for five-minute intervals, if that is all you can take. Then gradually increase the length of time standing. Having the right equipment helps transitioning from sitting to standing and back again much easier. Your standing desk should effortlessly rise and fall to accommodate changing positions without you having to strain.  Setting an egg timer to help you regulate your sitting and standing sessions is also helpful for developing a disciplined regimen.

standing desk fitness

Get a Sit-Stand Desk with Smooth Lift Technology for effortless transitioning.

Learning How to Sit

Learning how to sit properly, once you sit, is also an important part of a sit-stand regimen. Slumping forward, also know as “vulture neck” can put a strain on neck and back muscles and cause pain. Poorly positioning your legs and feet under your desk can also lead to painful cramping.

When sitting, be sure to sit up straight (your mother was right after all). Keep your shoulders back and balance your body weight so it is evenly distributed on both your hips. In other words, be aware if you are unconsciously leaning to one side in your office chair and make the correction. For additional support, you can add an ergonomic backrest to your chair. Lumbar backrests maintain the normal curves in your back while sitting and help train your body on proper posture.  For your legs, be sure to bend your knees at a right angle, with feet flat on the floor. You can also invest in a footrest to offer additional support.

Adding Micro-Movements to Your Work Day

 

sit stand desk solutions

Micro-movements are incremental movements we make throughout the day that can benefit our overall health. Think of how many times you could take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park a little farther from the office to add steps to your day. These simple micro-movements, including fidgeting, actually contribute to everyday activity, combating the sedentary lifestyle that comes with office work.

Joining the NEAT movement

NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, suggests that it takes energy to move even the smallest muscle. Polly de Mille, RN, an exercise physiologist with the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City gives an example: “you burn about 1.5 calories per minute just lying still while your body performs its most basic functions.” Go from lying down to sitting in a chair and answering email, and you’ll burn 25 percent more calories.” Combining micro-movements with a regular exercise routine helps transforms the calorie-burning process into a day-long event.

Micro-Movement Activities You Can Perform at Your Workstation

Use a Sit-Stand Desk

Begin using a sit-stand desk at your workstation. Regular transitions from sitting to standing and back again maintain flexibility and improve circulation. On average standing can increase your heart rate by about 10 beats per minute higher than sitting and that makes a difference of about 0.7 of a calorie per minute. That adds up to about 50 calories an hour. If you stand for three hours a day for five days that’s around 750 calories!

Pace and Fidget

Taking time to think about a project can include taking few extra steps around the office. Fidgeting also helps, tapping a foot, wiggling in your office chair may seem odd, but Iowa State University researchers found that those who frequently fidgeted, stood up and walked around were burning an additional 300 calories per day compared to those who remained seated and still.

Workouts at Your Desk

Lean back and lift your feet with legs straight, then bend your knees toward your chest, then straighten again. Do three sets of 20 reps and burn up 75 calories.

Stomach Exercises At Your Workstation

Working your stomach muscles at your desk is easy to do. Simply clench your stomach muscles for about 8 seconds Two sets of this activity for 8 reps will burn 100 calories.

Don’t Abandon Your Exercise Routine

Though micro-movements help, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. Thirty minutes of vigorous activity such as jogging or walking is still recommended for a healthy lifestyle. Micro movements are just a perk for office workers who want to include extra calorie-burning to their lifestyle.

Learn more about micro-movements: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/stay-active-office-top-tips

 

 

 

Adding a Sit-Stand Desk to Your Home Office

home office sit stand desk

The daily office grind, doesn’t change if you are managing a small business out of your home or working full-time from a home office. Much like a desk job in a corporate setting, sitting down all day can compromise your health.  In fact, as Marc Hamilton a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. indicates: “a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.”

Making the Change to a Sit Stand Workstation

Sit-stand desks are a healthy option to the traditional workstation in that regular standing and sitting throughout the day provides the flexibility and movement that can encourage calorie burn and minimize the weight gain that comes with a excessive sitting, and the great benefit of having one in your home office is that you don’t need to make a request to HR. Newer sit stand designs come fully assembled so they are easy to set up. Most importantly new Smooth Lift Technology makes it easier to transition from sitting and standing and back again throughout the day.

Customizing Your Home Office with Sit-Stand Workstations

Personalizing your home office to fit you is one of the great benefits of working from home.  Select a Sit-Stand that has full adjustability. The Lotus Sit-Stand features 22 different height settings and 17″ of vertical adjustment so that you can position your workstation for personal comfort.

So Many Computer Cords to Manage!

The high-tech nature of the modern home office may mean tangles of computer cables. Choose a sit-stand with cable management options so your home office looks uncluttered. The Lotus also features a device charging slot which allows your entire workspace to move freely with you-no cable strain or tangles.

Working with More Than One Monitor

If your home office profession requires multiple monitors, you will need to find a sit-stand workstation that accommodates that need. The Lotus offers the option of a dual monitor arm kit that transforms your sit-stand into a multi-screen workstation-perfect for programmers!

Learn more about Lotus Sit-Stand Desks.

 

The Best Lunchtime Workouts for the Business Professional

tehrene-firman

Guest Post by Tehrene Firman. A health & fitness freelance writer, formerly of Dr. Oz

Making sit stand workstations part of your workout

Making time to work out sounds easy enough, but sometimes it can feel like another job — aka something no one wants on top of their typical 9 to 5 workday. You’ve tried morning workouts to no avail, and exercising after a long day makes you laugh just thinking about it. So what’s a business professional to do when they want to squeeze in some gym time?

 

It’s easy to forget about the actual “break” part of a lunch break, but it’s time to take advantage of that unused time. Instead of spending your golden hour chowing down some food while typing away at the computer, lace up your sneakers: Early afternoons are primetime for workouts. Your energy levels are at a high, and you’re probably getting a little antsy in your seat anyway. Wave goodbye to your desk and take up one of these lunchtime workouts that will have you feeling like a million bucks the rest of your day.

 

  1. Hop on a Treadmill or Elliptical

If you have a gym nearby, head over for a quick session on the treadmill or elliptical. As long as there’s no wait time for a machine, you can be in and out as fast as you need to be. Perfect for those days you only have 30 minutes, you’ll still feel the burn and reap the cardio benefits in a short amount of time.

 

  1. Sign Up for an Express Class

Many fitness studios have jumped on the lunchtime workout bandwagon, putting classes on the schedule that are 45 minutes or less. Depending on your area, it’s easy to find something worthy of your break — from a high-intensity boot camp class to some relaxing yoga on particularly stressful workdays.

 

  1. Hit Up a Rowing Machine

The treadmill and elliptical are great and all, but the rowing machine is often overlooked at the gym. Not only does rowing burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, but it also gives you a 2-in-1 cardio and muscle-building workout. Plus, unlike running, it’s low-impact and won’t put any unnecessary pressure on your knees.

 

  1. Give the Stair Climber a Shot

Yeah, yeah, we know. But hear us out: Climbing a set of revolving stationary stairs isn’t as awful as it sounds. Anytime you step foot on a stair climber, you’ll get your bang for your buck: It’s almost impossible to be lazy on this machine, and you can burn hundreds of calories in just 30 minutes.

 

  1. Challenge Yourself to Some Real Stairs

If you don’t have a gym nearby, turn your office into your playground. Whether it’s stairs inside your building or outdoor stairs nearby, you’ll definitely work up a sweat in no time if you decide to lace up your sneakers and give this idea a shot. Want to really take things up a notch? Do some jumping jacks every time you get to the top.

 

  1. Go for an Outdoor Run

If you love running, you’re in luck: Hitting the pavement is probably the easiest way to squeeze in a workout over your lunch break. It’s quick, you have total control over how long you go and the intensity level, and you get to breathe in some fresh air. Not a runner? Go for a walk instead.

 

  1. Sign Up for a Cycling Class

If you’re the type who wants to avoid getting sweaty during lunchtime workouts, you might as well skip ahead now. Cycling classes are a great way to get your heart rate up midday, but you’ll definitely need to take some time to shower afterward. Luckily, getting that natural high from spinning to some of the best pump-up jams makes it all worth it.

  1. Try a Standing Desk

On those days it’s nearly impossible to take a break, there’s a solution that will help you move around without all the fuss: a standing desk. (And no, not the kind you have to tear your entire office area apart for.) You can upgrade your set-up in seconds by topping your current desk with Fellowes’ new Lotus™ Sit-Stand Workstation, which easily rises and lowers depending on your needs. Alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day is the perfect way to stay active, and having a healthy workspace that moves with you is the best way to do it.

New Government-Backed Rating System Promotes Sit-Stand Desks for Healthier Workplaces

Developed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fitwel, a new workplace design standard seeks to improve office health and productivity through improvements in design and policy. The government certification analyzes and assesses facilities designed for work for well-being and health benefits including indoor air quality, well-being enhancements for employees, such as implementing sit stand workstations,  and even evaluating the overall design of the building itself. Fitwel will be used as a standard for new federal government construction projects.

The Reason for the Sit Stand Focus: Office Workers Spend 5 Hours a Day at Their Desks

New evidence shows that alternating between standing and sitting at your desk throughout the work day improves circulation and energy.  The design of the Lotus Sit-Stand allows for easier transition from sitting to standing positions.

Lotus Sit Stand Workstation  sit

In a recent poll by American City & County, 53% of government office workers agreed that standing desks boost productivity.

How Experts View the Value of Sit Stand Desks

Workplace Trends expert Jonathan Webb sees sit-stand technology as a practical and healthy part of the new standard.  “The cost of sit-stand desks continues to drop as the product becomes more popular worldwide. The cost delta between sit-stand and static desks has dropped over 50 percent in recent years. Secondly, organizations see the benefits of allowing workers the ability to sit and stand throughout the day. For one, keeping knowledge workers at their most productive place – their computer – makes for a more productive employee. In addition, there are significant health benefits to altering postures throughout the day, including improved metabolism and heart rates, and reduced blood pressure.” Fitwel hopes to provide a definitive outline of the essential characteristics of a healthy workplace more clearly for business owners, human resource departments and facility managers.

Learn more about the Fitwel standard.

Sources: http://americancityandcounty.com/office-equipment/expert-expect-see-more-standing-desks-workplace-2017