Are You Less Active Than Your Grandpa? You might be if you work in an office.

standing desks keep you young

We think of our grandparents to be at a stage of life where a sedentary afternoon spent sitting down is understandable and acceptable. Yet with the growth of digital technology at the workplace, sitting still for long hours is no longer reserved for the elderly.

Recent research from Edinburgh shows that many desk jobs lead office workers to spend up to thirty minutes more sitting down each day than members of our  retired population. That means most of us with desk-bound careers are more sedentary than those over 75.

The study revealed that middle-age men especially vulnerable to senior-level immobility, spending close to half an hour longer in their desk chairs every day of the work week. Working women under 45 are not far behind their male cohorts, spending only six minutes less than seniors sitting away the work day.

Don’t Let Your Body Take an Early Retirement

Take short, active breaks. Go for a walk. That pedometer app on your smartphone comes in handy for helping you realize how little you move. Use it to motivate extra steps throughout the day.

Engage with a standing desk workstation all day long. Standing up gets the blood flowing and keeps the body stimulated. When you feel that two PM slump coming on after lunch, stand up and work. The body intuitively associates stillness with sleep. Standing up with a sit-stand desk prevents you from nodding off like grandpa.

Stretch, bend, and move in place. You don’t have to run a marathon around the office to stay active. Use micro-movements like stretching exercises to stay flexible and keep feeling productive.

 

Adjustable vs. Static Standing Desks

adjustable standing desk

Many static standing desks seem to be a simple and economical fix for those who want to stand and work. However, a lack of adjustability can do more harm than good. Here’s why:

Pain Points of Static Standing Desks

  1. Static standing desks cannot adjust to your height, leading to a stooping posture if you are to tall or an unnatural positioning of the arms to reach “up” to the keyboard if you are of shorter stature. In both instances, back pain, neck pain and arm pain may be the result.
  2. Ergonomists recommend that when at a standing desk, elbows should be at a 90 degree angle, virtually impossible if your standing desk does not adjust. Eventually incidents of elbow, wrist and arm strain may start to occur.
  3. Your fingers should be gently touching the keyboard for optimal comfort. Without the freedom to adjust your keyboard tray at a static standing desk, you will be adjusting to your keyboard’s rigid position, leading you down the path of carpal tunnel issues.
  4. Even with standard workstations, monitors should be adjusted so that your eyes look across the top third of the screen. Most likely, with static standing desks, you will be raising or drooping your head and neck to see your computer screen, which may explain persistent neck pains and headaches you experience when using your desk.

Adjustability Should Be Effortless

Standing desks that effortlessly adjust to any position allow you to position your work surface to you, not you to it.  The Lotus Sit-Stand Workstation features Smooth Lift Technology, which allows you to easily and effortlessly adjust to 22 different heights and 17″ of vertical height adjustment. Perfectly match your height and stature so you can avoid the pain of a fixed work surface.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Micro Breaks

micro breaks with standing desks

What are micro breaks? Rather than take a long lunch or 15 minutes during the day, imagine a short five-minute rest from work that could involve a variety of activities. It’s like the joke: “I told my doctor it hurts when I do this. My doctor said, then don’t do that.” It’s actually that simple. Stopping what ails you helps your body bounce back. You can also apply micro breaks to specific deskwork related issues.

A Break from Wrist Pain Relief

Typing and data entry tasks 8 hours a day can inflict long-term pain on wrists, including the lasting effects of carpal tunnel. Take 5-second micro breaks every 30 minutes. If you use extra padded wrist supports for your keyboard and mouse, you may extend your typing periods to 45 minutes before taking a micro break.

Simply Stand Up

Sitting glued to your computer terminal eventually leads to back pain and leg pain. Standing up for 5 to 10 seconds every 30 minutes keeps your muscles from becoming frozen in their sitting positions. If you feel that 5-10 seconds is an absolute loss of productivity, incorporate a standing desk into your routine. Recent Smooth Lift standing desk technology makes it easy to rise and sit easily throughout your day, making micro breaks effortless.

Take a Break and Stare

Long periods staring at your computer monitor means your eyes are probably adjusting too much to the screen’s illumination and possible glare. Most likely you will feel eye strain and headaches later and not relate it to your long day engaged with your flat screen.  Take micro breaks to literally stare off into space for 5-10 seconds every 30 minutes to help your eyes adjust to something more than digital two-dimensional space. Do you notice dry eye? Working at a computer actually reduces how much we blink, which can lead to eye dryness.  Your eye refresh micro break will do wonders.

Need More Micro Break Ideas?

Creating A Corporate Wellness Strategy: Six Key Points to a Healthier Employee

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Research has revealed that healthy employees are not only more productive but also save a company money in healthcare costs.  A study by Harvard University researchers who reviewed 36 studies of corporate wellness programs found that for every dollar spent on wellness programs, the company’s absenteeism-related costs fell about $2.73. One meta-analysis of 42 corporate wellness studies also found a 25% reduction in sick leave and absenteeism, a 25% reduction in health costs, and a 32% reduction in worker’s disability costs and compensation. These significant findings have led many HR specialists searching for the ideal wellness program to fit their company.1

Selecting a Wellness Program Provider Who Customizes

Whatever program you choose, it is important that the wellness provider has the flexibility to adapt to your company’s needs. Health guidelines and motivational wellness objectives have to fit workers within every specific company. Goals that are set too high can discourage employee engagement and expectations set too low can fail to inspire. All wellness program parameters, however, should include some form of these six key points which have produced some of the most successful wellness outcomes for corporations.

Redesigning the Workplace for Wellness

Incorporating sit-stand workstations and ergonomic upgrades into the office contributes to greater productivity and comfort–all of which improves mood and energy levels. Adding healthy snacks to workplace cafeterias and break rooms can also help transform a  grazing mentality to greater awareness about nutrition. Offering performance incentives such as a FitBits and pedometers and organizing company sponsored “group walks” also integrates wellness into the corporate culture.

standing desk usage

Seeing the World in a Healthy Light

Much of wellness is helping employees become enlightened about their personal health. By offering cholesterol screenings and BMI evaluations, employees can learn where they are falling short in terms of healthy choices. Many may not even visit a doctor regularly. Educating staff on healthy guidelines in terms of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar is the first step toward a healthier life for a company’s workforce.

The Perks of Prevention

Helping employees take preventative steps for better health may include offering free seasonal flu shots, recommending certain age-based tests like colonoscopies or gender-based tests like breast exams. Defining how often they should consult with a physician for regular exams makes healthy living a year-round goal that not only benefits them but also reduces absenteeism and keeps healthcare costs low for a company.

Stamping Out Smoking

Though smoking has drastically declined over the years, there are still many who remain shackled by the unhealthy habit. Punishing them with higher health insurance costs only keeps them on the fringe of wellness. Instead, offer free cessation programs with counseling and incentives to help them embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Ending Obesity

Obesity continues to be one of the leading causes of many serious diseases in the US. Many employees struggling with a weight problem may wish to lose weight but may not know where to begin. Weight loss programs including Zumba classes, nutrition consultation and even discounts to weight loss clinics and fitness centers can help motivate employees towards a fitter life.

Diffusing Unhealthy Stress

Extreme stress can offset all the efforts of even the healthiest individual. Providing methods of stress management including meditation, yoga, or professional assistance with personal matters outside the workplace all contribute to the well-being and loyalty of your employees.

 

  1. https://www.bcidaho.com/_assets/Employer/2010-Harvard-Wellness-Program-Meta-Study-Health-Affairs.pdf

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

 

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

 

 

 

WHY MSD’s are Costing Companies Billions in Worker’s Comp

Neck pain

While safety and health managers do their best to eliminate accident risks in the workplace, from minimizing the potential for falls and other mishaps, the less conspicuous costs incurred from MDS’s, or muscular-skeletal disorders, are causing a significant impact—and employees may not even realize it. Many workers may assume that pains in their shoulder, wrists, neck, back and elbows may be “part of the job” until the increasing severity of these conditions leads to debilitating results. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA,  MDS’s account for more $15 billion a year in worker’s compensation costs.

Training Managers to Become Ergonomic Watchdogs

Identifying pending MSD situations, even when an employee isn’t complaining, can avoid costly consequences for the business and painful consequences for the employee.  Look out for these red flags:

  • Employees holding their backs or straining when they get up out of their office chairs
  • Employees stopping work to massage or shake their wrists
  •  Employees rubbing their neck or shoulders frequently
  • Look for vulture neck-the drooping of the head and neck forward due to improper monitor height

Recommended Solutions to MSD’s

Ergonomic office chair back rests are specifically designed for use with desk chairs and provide the added support to the lumbar, minimizing back strain.

Wrist supports position the hands properly and protect the wrists to prevent strain from repetitive motions like mousing.

Ergonomic keyboard trays position the arms and wrists at the proper angle and distance to prevent strain from the repetitious actions from daily typing.

Monitor risers elevate the computer screen to the proper height to prevent “vulture neck.”  Vulture neck may eventually lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain.

Get more information on implementing ergonomic practices that reduce MSD’s and keep employees happy and your office productive.  Workplace Well-Being Guidelines.

Santa’s Workshop Increases Productivity for Holiday Season

 

Santa's management strategy

As the Christmas season grows more demanding each year, Santa’s Workshop strives to continually improve efficiency and productivity. New products have been introduced to minimize fatigue and injury in the workshop, as well as streamline the operation overall.

Elves Turn to Ergonomics for Admin Duties

“With a lot of toys, comes a lot of data,” says Santa. “All that information has to be processed.”  In the administrative offices of the workshop, elves complained of back pain, wrist pain and neck strain, leading to lost productivity and days out of the workshop recovering. Santa implemented company-wide back rests for all admin elves as well as the latest in office keyboard managers to reduce incidents of wrist pain.  Also the latest and greatest monitor arms put screens at the proper height and distance from elves to make computing duties easier.

Improving Workshop Air Quality Concerns

“Elves aren’t immune to colds and flu, and being at the North Pole doesn’t help,” Santa indicated. He implemented a commercial air purification system to keep the workshop free of airborne germs. The system features a true HEPA filter, which  captures 99.97% of airborne contaminants including viruses and allergens. The activated carbon filter also reduces odors, which is helpful for those elves stationed near the reindeer stables.

Archiving Past Holidays-Storing Records On-Site at North Pole

As a global one-night only distributor, Santa found reviewing past performance crucial for future productivity. Storing all past archives off-site led to long delays in records retrieval, “especially when you are headquartered at the North Pole,” indicates Santa. “It got to the point where we were just stuffing records in stockings and toy chests. That’s no good.” Converting to on-site archiving reduced costs and made records readily available for review.

Naughty List Record Destruction

Santa’s Naughty & Nice spreadsheet is an ever-changing dynamic.  “Those who were once naughty and now are nice don’t deserve that bad record following them around.” Santa explains.  “We keep auto feed shredders at every list review station for maximum identity theft protection. Because they are automatic, productivity is increased as the elves spend less time shredding and more time making toys.”

Holiday Home Office Buying Guide: Four Unique Gifts

For those on your gift list who take their home office seriously, here are some great ideas to provide comfort and productivity.

Home office

Upgrade to an Automatic Shredder

automatic shredder for home office

Enhance productivity in the home office by automating  everyday shredding needs. The AutoMax 200C Auto Feed Shredder gives that special someone on your gift list  versatile shredding performance with 200 sheet automatic shredding and 10 sheet manual shredding. The AccuFeed Technology lets them shred hands free with a 12 minute run time. They can also shred paper clips, staples, credit cards and junk mail. A great gift for anyone who needs a better shredder.

Add Professionalism and Save Money with Personal Laminating

versatile home office laminator

End the days of expensive laminated projects at the local office center. The Saturn 3i 125 Laminator is a simple DIY laminating machine that makes durable handouts, laminated business cards and dry erase charts that bring productivity to the home office for less money. This home office laminator is the ideal gift for someone who needs occasional laminating projects and also needs to save money for their home business. The Saturn 3i 125 provides rapid one minute warm-up and  a 12/1/2″ entry for versatile document size, as well as a supply kit to get them started.

 

Improve the Air of the Home Office

home-office-air-purifier

With the winter months, the home office can get stuffy and with cold and flu season, germs circulate throughout the heating system. Time spent in the home office can make anyone sick, even when they try to sanitize surfaces and wash hands. After all, cold and flu germs linger in the air for a long time, making a home office air purifier a thoughtful gift. The AeraMax DX95 Air Purifier provides hospital type filtration, effectively cleaning the air in large rooms 300-600 square feet. Also the AeraSmart™ Sensor monitors the air quality and automatically adjusts the fan speed to keep air purified all the time. Look for the certified asthma and allergy friendly™ by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America stamp of approval if someone on your Christmas list needs extra protection from allergies and asthma.

 

Toast Toes in a Chilly Home Office

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Sometimes a home office can be too warm or too cold, or both depending on the weather. If you have someone on your Christmas list with complaints of cold feet, this Climate Control Footrest will be deeply appreciated. This comfy footrest fits easily under the desk and features three temperature settings: cool fan, low heat, and high heat-so it also works great on sultry summer afternoons. The fan lets you adjust workspace airflow to suit your preference and the auto-off feature prevents overheating. They will also enjoy the surface massage bumps to help soothe their feet while they work.

When A Laptop is Too Hot To Handle

hot laptops

All laptops get hot while you are working on them. But when is your laptop too hot? Have you been noticing unexpected self shutdowns? This may indicate a bigger problem. Laptops are designed with preventive sensors to stop overheating from causing damage. Frequent shutdowns may indicate technical problems.

Check Your Laptop Fan.

All laptops have a ventilating fan to release the excess heat they produce. Find the fan and place your hand near it. You should feel warm hot coming out. This means your heat management system is working properly. If the air coming out doesn’t seem that warm, this may mean a buildup of dust is limiting the fan’s capacity. If you are okay with opening up your laptop, you can find the fan inside. Blow on it  or use compressed air to get it clean. If you are not comfortable with this maintanence, find a reputable computer repair service to take care of the problem. (Make sure you let them know you think it just needs a thorough cleaning).

A LapDesk Can Help Your Lap Stay Cool & Comfortable.

Because working laptops can still be uncomfortably hot, use lap desks to help manage the heat and keep you comfortable. Portable laptop desks are good for business travelers as they make working in airports and in hotels easier. The GoRiser also has cooling vents to help ventilate the laptop, as well as SoftShock technology which provides a softer cushion for your lap.

Laptop Lap Desk

GoRiser Laptop Lap Desk

 

Other designs like I Spire Series Laptop Desk are ideal for home users with features like bumpers to keep the laptop securely in place making them more comfortable for those who use laptops while on the couch or in reclining positions.

Comfortable Laptop Lap Desk

I-Spire Laptop Lap Desk