Do you sit too much?
Why is sitting less, better for your health?
Reversing the effects of sitting
It may be that you’ve just had a nice break from work and miraculously, those aches and pains that you had before the holidays have all but disappeared. Okay, how did that happen? And now that you’re back at work again, the back ache, the tight neck and shoulders, or the pain in your wrist is beginning to make itself known again. What to do?
Well a new year has just begun and perhaps as you get ready for the work that is ahead, it is a very opportune time to be thinking about what adjustments you can make to your work set-up that will improve your work experience; especially in the realm of your health and wellbeing.
Now, there are a lot of options to look at in this area but one of the first you could consider, is a height adjustable desk.
For example, over the last 12 months I have been using a height adjustable desk at my work place and as I alternate between sitting and standing I’ve become more and more aware of the benefits of this type of work station set-up. My experience led me to do some research on this subject and I would like to share some of this with you.
First of all, have you ever calculated the number of hours that you sit during the day? Here’s an example of a typical day for many people.
|You get up in the morning and you sit down for breakfast||30 mins|
|You commute to work by car or public transport||45 min|
|You sit in your office working on a computer or sit in meetings||7.00 hours|
|You sit for lunch||30 min|
|You commute back home||45 min|
|You sit down for dinner||45 min|
|You watch TV or surf the web||2.00 hours|
|Total number of hours sitting||12.25 hours|
The total number of hours in this scenario is relatively conservative—many people sit for much longer. Now, once you have worked out how many hours you sit during the day and then look at recent studies that show the negative health effects that come from prolonged periods of sitting—you may be quite shocked. I know I was.
We have become a society of sitters!
Recent scientific studies from very reputable organisations show that sitting for long periods of time can cause serious health issues.
To quote from an article on the Heart Foundation’s website
Adults who sit less throughout the day have a lower risk of early death particularly from cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Most research so far has been on how watching television affects health, because watching television is the most common leisure activity among adults. Adults who watch less than two hours of television a day are less likely to have type 2 diabetes or be obese, and have a lower risk of developing CVD.
The reverse is also true the more time an adult spends watching television, the higher their risk of health problems.
You can read the full article here.
Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre says that with the inactivity of sitting, “Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.
Read full article here.
I could go on and on quoting researchers and scientists that give evidence on the ill-effects of sitting for extended periods of time—there is just so much of it.
One of the ways to reverse the effects of sitting is to simply stand up. This is why Height Adjustable Desks or Sit/Stand Desks are becoming more and more popular. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo clinic says,
"Step one is get up. Step two is learn to get up more often. Step three is, once you're up, move," he says. "And what we've discovered is that once you're up, you do tend to move."
This has certainly been my experience since I started using a height adjustable desk. I work in an office setting where I sit for 50% of the time and stand for the other 50%. I find that when I am standing I tend to move around much more. I move my arms and legs and twist my torso and do side bends every now and then because I am in a position (standing) that encourages this kind of activity.
I find when I am feeling tired during work or I have the beginnings of a back or shoulder ache it is always associated with a prolonged period of sitting. I know this because when I raise my desk to standing height and stand up, the aches mysteriously disappear and the feeling of tiredness starts to dissipate.
As a result, my productivity and creativity increases because my mind is not occupied by aches and pains or numbed by tiredness.
There are so many benefits associated with less time sitting and more time standing and moving—the above lists just a few.
To find out more about the options for height adjustable desks visit our website or visit our showroom here in Surrey Hills, Melbourne, or call and speak to one of our very knowledgeable staff.
Just the simple act of getting out of your chair more often could not only improve the quality of your health and wellbeing, but literally add years to your life!
As more and more studies are done in regard to the health benefits of sit-stand desks or height adjustable desks it's good to see the news media reporting on this research. On Monday, the 6th of August, The Age, The Guardian and the ABC published the results of a recent study carried out by Deakin University in an article written by Matilda Boseley.
"After decades of sitting behind a desk, office workers are being encouraged to take a stand.
Standing desks, sometimes regarded as a health fad, could play a key role in finding an affordable way to reduce obesity rates across Australia.
If one in five office workers reduced their time stuck in a chair by using standing desks and scheduled walking breaks, they could reduce their chances of obesity and increase their life-spans by a collective 7492 years, or four days a year per individual, according to the results of a study from Deakin University.
The study, based on evaluation of a program trialled with Victorian public servants, estimated this could be done for a cost of just $185.2 million in equipment and management."
You can read the full article here...
The goal of ergonomics is to make work more comfortable and improve both health and wellbeing, ultimately resulting in a happier and more productive workplace. Sometimes, when ergonomic issues develop, they can be remedied by rearranging, adjusting or modifying existing furniture and tools. On the other hand, if you find yourself developing hand, back or shoulder injuries at work no matter how you configure your set-up, it may be time to consider upgrading to more ergonomic friendly office equipment. .
TIP SHEET: Back care and Chair setup
We know that sitting for long periods can have negative consequences for our health, and that regular breaks along with standing for part of your day can help to prevent and relieve aches and pains when they occur. However, often sitting cannot be avoided, at which times it is important to ensure that your office chair is set-up to provide optimal support for your back.
To set-up your office chair correctly, follow these simple steps:
Adjusting the Chair Height
Sit up straight on your chair, roll your shoulders up and back and allow your arms to hang loosely by your sides. Make a right angle at your elbow and keep your wrist straight. The underside of your hand should now sit naturally on top of your keyboard. If it is not then adjust your chair up or down to enable your hand to rest on the keyboard. (do not adjust your arms or hands!)
Other Chair Adjustments
Adjust the back-rest of your chair in or out and up and down until you experience the optimum lumbar support. It should be both firm and comfortable, while providing support for the natural curve of your back. And if your chair has a sliding seat mechanism, slide it in or out so that the depth of the seat feels just right for you. Ensure the angle of base of the seat is either neutral or tilting slightly forward so as to make sure the front of the chair is not pushing into your thighs and cutting off blood circulation.
Remember, no chair, no matter how well it’s set up can prevent you from slouching unless you proactively sit with correct posture. The key is to be mindful of your posture at all times, making sure that your spine remains lifted, with your shoulders rounded back.
Steps for setting up your workspace
First, take a moment and roll your shoulders back and relax. Adjust the chair height so that your elbows are approximately at the same level as your desk.
If your feet don't comfortably reach the floor, or if there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest to elevate your legs so that your upper legs are approximately at right angles with you lower legs.
If your chair seat has a tilt feature, experiment with adjusting the tilt to see if sitting at a slightly forward angle improves your sitting posture.
Position your monitor so the top third of the viewing area is at or below eye level. Use a monitor arm to help facilitate the correct positioning of your monitor. As long as you can clearly view the screen contents there is no specific distance that you need to be from the monitor.
Ensure that your wrists are straight. Use wrist rest if required, and if you have armrests try to adjust them so they support your arms without beings too high or too low.
Position the mouse as close as is practical to the keyboard, so that both elbows are directly under the shoulders while working. If this is not possible you may need to consider purchasing a mini keyboard. A mini keyboard still has full size keys but is much more compact than conventional keyboards and this feature enables your arms to be in alignment with your shoulders.
Reduce stress on your neck and shoulders when working from paper documents by using a document holder that can be placed between the keyboard and monitor or on the monitor itself.
Use a phone headset if you need to use the computer while talking on the phone, this will help avoid neck and shoulder strain.
Use your mouse pad or a wrist rest to pad the edge of your desk to avoid pressing your hands or forearms against any desk edge.
Adjust screen brightness and contrast for clear comfortable viewing, and clean the screen regularly. Also remember the 20-20-20 rule: look away from the monitor every 20 minutes to a distance of 20 metres for 20 seconds. This helps avoid eye strain.
Consider purchasing a height adjustable desk so that you can stand while working, thus breaking the unhealthy habit of sitting in one position for lengthy periods of time.
Invest in a quality ergonomic chair if your chair does not give you the support that you need. Think about it, when you total the number of hours the average office worker spends sitting in a chair at work, it adds up to around ten years of their life.
Finally and very importantly remember to take breaks regularly preferably every 45 minutes to an hour for 1 or 2 minutes. Go get a glass of water talk to a colleague etc.
We regularly receive enquiries about computer screen generated eye strain especially in regard to what can be done about it. For many of us our work consists of staring at a computer monitor eight plus hours a day. When you throw in the amount of time we look at our phones, tablets and TV’s in addition to our computers, then we can be looking at our screens 10 to 12 hours per day or even more—it’s no wonder our eyes protest!
What is Eyestrain? Eye strain usually manifests as: Problems reading - Pain or ache in the eyes - Blurred vision - Headaches - Dizziness - Dry eyes - Watery eyes - Tired Eyes. Unless steps are taken to correct problems that cause eyestrain, it can progress and cause neck and shoulder pain, colour perception change, decreased vision, work errors and reduced efficiency.
1. Primary or direct glare. Primary glare is direct glare and can be caused by facing a window or a ceiling light shining directly into your eyes. Your eyes look at the monitor but are constantly compensating for the bright light coming through the window or from the light in front of you.
Suggested solutions to cut glare:
It seems obvious but place light filtering shades, blinds or curtains on your windows.
Try as much as possible not to sit directly in front of a bright light.
To eliminate glare, move your desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not shining into your eyes.
2. Secondary or reflected glare. Secondary glare is reflective glare and is most often caused by having a window behind you or a ceiling light reflected off the screen into the eyes. The eyes look at the monitor but have to compensate for the reflected light while looking at the normal screen brightness.
Suggested Solutions to cut glare:
Again, windows need to have filtering shades, blinds or curtains.
Install an antiglare screen filter on your monitor; this will considerably reduce the amount of reflection.
If possible, move the desk position so that window brightness or lighting is not reflected from the monitor into your eyes.
3. Ergonomic set up. The most common ergonomic monitor problems are related to sitting too close to the monitor, setting the monitor too high or too low, or viewing the monitor placed too far to one side of the desk.
The recommended distance from the monitor to the eyes is 45cm to 75cm. Setting your monitor within this range will also keep dust particles (which get attracted to monitors) from your eyes.
Clean the monitor each day as it attracts dust which can irritate the eyes.
Adjust your monitor so that the top of the monitor is level with your eyes, this will ensure that for most work your eyes will look slightly down without straining your neck and help keep your eyes relaxed.
When the eyes look down they blink more and produce more lubrication.
Use an easily adjustable monitor arm that allows you to lower or raise your monitor to the correct level.
Use a document holder to enable you to work from documents at an equal distance to your eyes as the screen so that you don't have to keep readjusting your focus.
Ensure that you position your monitor squarely in front of you.
How readable is your screen – consider the size of font, background vs foreground colour, adjust them to make it easy to read.
4. Not Taking Breaks
Without doubt, gazing at your monitor for long periods of time without a break tires your eyes.
Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by focussing on something at a distance.
Follow the 20/20 rule - every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
Rub your hands together until they are warm. Close your eyes and cup your warm palms over your eyes.
5. Blue Light
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and reaches deeper into the eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to the retina. Furthermore, in certain wavelengths, blue light is implicated in the development of age-related macular degeneration(AMD). Blue light is emitted from all devices with LED screems, including computer monitors, phones, tablets, gaming devices and TV’s.
Install an anti-blue light filter on your monitor, phone or TV, etc
Benefits: Like any other part of the body, the eye muscles need exercise. Eye exercises help keep the eye muscles strong and active. They also help relieve eye strain from looking at a computer screen for extended periods.
As with all exercise, you need to listen to your body, keep the back of the neck and spine lengthened and the rib cage lifted. Remember to breathe as you work with the different exercises.
Step 1: Keeping the back and neck straight and the head still, look as high as possible, and look down. Repeat this movement 10 times. Close and rest the eyes for about 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise.
Step 2: Keeping the eyes wide open, look as far to the right as possible, and then to the left. Repeat this movement 10 times, close and rest the eyes for 30 seconds.
Step 3: Make wide circles with your eyes by rolling them clockwise. Perform at least 10 circles. Repeat the exercise counter-clockwise. Close and relax the eyes.
Glasses specifically designed for computer use can ease eye strain.
Contact lenses and laser eye surgery can also dry your eyes out and make them more fatigued. You may need to use eye drops/liquid tears. Remember to have regular eye checks to ensure you are wearing the correct prescription.
Also check out Anti-glare glasses. These glasses will reduce amount of glare from your computer monitor thereby reducing eye strain.
Our eyes are truly precious and obviously we want to keep them healthy for as long as possible. Whatever we can do to protect and look after them is a top priority. Our eyes are truly precious and obviously we want to keep them healthy for as long as possible. Whatever we can do to protect and look after them is a top priority.