Health Benefits and Ergonomics
Millions of sedentary workers who were sentenced to the chair have adopted a standing desk or treadmill desk, and the adoption rate is only increasing every day. Standing desks and treadmill desks make you healthier first and foremost simply by curbing your sedentary lifestyle. With the average American now spending 9.3 hours sitting, the incidence of metabolic syndrome (diabetes), certain cancers, and all sorts of other health problems continues to increase every year.
That’s just the beginning. A host of health benefits comes from using the office fitness equipment we feature on this site. In fact, each product category (e.g., treadmill desks, desk cycles, etc.) keeps you active and healthy in unique ways.
Want to learn more about which products address your health concerns? Want to set up the most pain-free and productivity-boosting ergonomic workstation? We’ve got you covered. Check out our advice articles (broken down by product category below) so you can evaluate which products are ideal for your office fitness goals.
It is a well-established scientific fact the human body was simply not designed to sit for many hours at a time. Our ancestors walked an average of eleven miles per day while hunting, gathering, and recreating. Ironically, the very technology we use today to make our lives easier—so we can press buttons to perform our work, communicate, order food, or play games—is also killing us.What Are the Effects of Sitting Disease?
The advent of computing tools, cellphones, modern transportation, and an overabundance of enticing television programming is having significant detrimental effects on our society’s health as a whole, as now evidenced in the explosive rise of sitting disease. [...]
Sitting disease, in a nutshell, is a wind-down of the body’s metabolism that occurs when we sit for too long at one time. The most direct effect is a lowering of the body’s “resting rate,” called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Think of it as your heart rate when you’re just sitting still. We burn a few calories just keeping the vital organs working, digesting our last meal, pumping blood through the veins, exercising the brain cells, etc.
Merely standing raises the body’s BMR significantly, as the heart has to work harder to keep the body erect. Walking at a slow pace of 1 to 2 mph raises the BMR further still, and with it, our background calorie burn. The Mayo [...]
The Huffington Post recently raised awareness of sitting disease with their video, “The Truth About the Sitting Disease.” In it, Physiatrist Dr. Alice Chen explains what a sedentary lifestyle looks like and offers some facts that will make you want to leap out of your chair: 1) Americans sit 7.7 hours per day, 2) we should get up and move every thirty minutes, and 3) five hours or more of sitting negates the benefits of working out.
To conclude, Dr. Chen offers some basic solutions on how to get your body moving throughout the day: going out to get lunch, taking the long way to the restroom, and not parking so close. While doing these activities can be helpful, those applying [...]
You’ve finally done it: after years of back-breaking, hunched-over desk work, you’ve made the switch to an adjustable-height treadmill desk and are ready to start walking your way to better health. But before you step on that treadmill, you ask yourself: how high should my desk be?
A common answer for this has been to raise your desk so that your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle when you type. This is a partial solution: a 90-degree angle keeps your wrists straight when you type (assuming your keyboard is level with your desk top) and helps prevent the wrist strain and injuries that come from improper wrist posture. However, maintaining this right angle for long [...]
Much of the work in today’s offices is conducted on a computer. Indeed, a majority of our working lives, as well as a good deal of our personal lives, is spent staring at a screen. But, if improperly positioned, monitors can spell trouble for office workers by subjecting them to agonizing neck and shoulder pain.
Thankfully, these posture-related pains are easy to fix, and it begins with the right equipment. An adjustable monitor arm should be a staple in any ergonomic workstation. The Ergotron LX Monitor arm offers a wide range of adjustability in both height, depth, and angle, to really customize your monitor setup. It is a very bad idea to use a laptop without an [...]
Each year the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the roster of “The Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States.” It takes a few years to compile this data, so the most recent report, just released, discloses that in 2013 only 4,585 workers died on the job, representing 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers, per year. The good news is that the trend is improving, as are most safety trends such as aviation and automobile accidents.
If you scan the report there’s some interesting data about who is at greatest risk. Perhaps not terribly surprising, the statistics are highly skewed towards male workers, over the age of 45, [...]
“No two humans are exactly alike.” That’s a common saying in the field of anthropometry, the study of the measurements and proportions of the human body. We all have different ratios of torso to legs, forearms to upper arms, index fingers to thumbs, etc. When designing office products, it is important to remember that people come in many sizes and shapes. Anthropometric data varies considerably between regional populations. For example, Scandinavian populations tend to be taller, while Asian and Italian populations tend to be shorter.Then, How Does this Relate to Ergonomics?
When typewriters [...]
We get this question often from employers who are looking for cost-effective ways for reducing foot pain, absenteeism and medical costs for employees who have to stand on their feet all day. After all, there are about as many workers who don’t sit at a desk all day than the sedentary office workers we usually write about.
Large-format 100% polyurethane mats like the EcoLast Premium Anti-Fatigue Mats in sizes that are four to six feet long have become very popular in environments as diverse as machining and welding shops, assembly factories, restaurants and grocery markets, bank teller and ticket sales windows, retail sales counters, pharmacies, hospitals, [...]
When Running Magazine ran their story Sitting is the New Smoking- Even for Runners two years ago it was the first time a mainstream publication reported on the mounting evidence that just because you run, bike, or go to the gym, sitting for too many hours a day can still wreak havoc with your body. In other words, exercise is not a cure for sitting disease. The only solution? Sitting less.
Now a new, very large, cross-sectional study just announced in Medscape Medical News has linked prolonged sitting and decreased physical activity with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), even in physically active people of normal weight. The results, published this month in the Journal [...]
There is an ever-growing mountain of research papers being published on the benefits on standing desks and treadmill desks. Following is just a small subset:List of Scientific Studies on Standing Desks and Treadmill Desks “The Delayed Effect of Treadmill Desk Usage on Recall and Attention.” Computers in Human Behavior 46 (May 2015): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.054. Labonté-LeMoyne, Élise, Radhika Santhanam, Pierre-Majorique Léger, François Courtemanche, Marc Fredette, and Sylvain Sénécal. “Evaluation of a Workplace Treadmill Desk Intervention: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 56, no. 12 (December 2014): 1266–76. [...]
It seems virtually guaranteed that every six months or so some university will publish a study negating some aspect of the health and productivity benefits of treadmill desk usage, despite there already existing a mountain of actual scientific research concluding just the opposite.
Earlier this year Larry Swanson blogged about the incredibly irresponsible paper published by Oregon State University, intended to “evaluate the effectiveness of a three-month-long treadmill desk intervention in eliciting changes in objectively monitored physical activity and sedentary behavior among overweight/obese office workers.” This article rapidly became fodder for internet sites pumping out [...]
If you’ve been considering starting a “ketogenic” diet then this may be the ideal time to adopt a treadmill desk into your lifestyle. The aim of this type of low-carb diet (e.g.Atkins, Ideal Protein, Medifast) is to try and burn off unwanted fat by forcing the body to rely on burning fat for energy, instead of getting the energy from carbohydrate intake. But being on a ketogenic diet requires that you significantly reduce your exercise regimen during the dieting period, to ensure success. This can be quite a challenge for physically active individuals.
Dieters following this protocol are on a low caloric diet (we’re talking 800 calories), yet their body is actually [...]
You need only glance at your Facebook feed or your local newspaper to know that “sitting is the new smoking.” To this point, coverage of the extensive science behind “sitting disease” has focused mostly on the the hazards of the sedentary behavior of sitting.
One obvious solution to the problem of sitting is to work standing up. But – as a new infographic (included below) from the Nursing Department at Georgetown University shows – standing carries its own risks, including low-back pain, leg and foot pain, flat feet (pronation), and plantar fasciitis, as well as more serious conditions like chronic venous insufficiency and stroke. These issues are well-known in the industrial, [...]
This guest post is written by Michael Sliter, a workplace fitness researcher at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Why Research Active Workstations?
I first became interested in active workstations when, after five years of graduate school, I realized that I had gained around 25 pounds. As someone who always prided myself on my physical fitness (I played football, softball, racquetball, etc.), the recognition of this slow, insidious weight gain hit me pretty hard.
Around the same time that I had my weight-gain realization, my wife (fiancée at the time) showed me a blog article about a man who created a walking workstation out of a piece of plywood [...]
A common question we get here at WorkWhileWalking is how much weight can a person lose using a treadmill desk? Results vary wildly because a treadmill desk is not a substitute for getting cardio exercise or a proper diet, and everyone’s body is a little different. The key to successfully losing weight using a treadmill desk is to keep a healthy diet, and work aerobic exercise into your weekly routines (that means breaking a real sweat at least once a day), while substituting what used to be sitting time with slow walking time.
The more walking time, the better, naturally, but you don’t have to do it for more than 2-3 hours per day to see significant results in a [...]
As the longest-time sufferer of plantar fasciitis (8 years) and longest time user of treadmill desks (6 years) on the WorkWhileWalking staff, I end up fielding most of the questions we get from readers who suffer from some degree of fasciitis. In this blog post I’ll sum up my personal anecdotal experience as well as input we’ve received from numerous podiatrists, orthopedists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists with extensive experience treating plantar fasciitis patients.
For most sufferers, symptoms tend to wax and wane, usually worsening after a trigger event such as overuse, or from walking barefoot or without their prescribed [...]
Depending on your age and current level of fitness, a proper fitness goal would be to take somewhere in the range of 5,000 (nominal) to 10,000 (optimal) steps per day. But the body will adjust best to a new regimen if this number is attained incrementally, not all at once. Shoot for increasing your activity by 50 to 100 steps per day and you’ll get there soon enough, without risking injury or pain.
The great thing about increasing your daily movement at this moderate yet eminently achievable pace is that you’re practically guaranteed to get positively psyched about addressing your health goals each and every day. Your overall stamina will improve, and you’ll [...]
Unless this is the very first thing you’ve read from us, you already know that we at WorkWhileWalking think that while technology is great, we sit down to use it way too much. Above is an infographic put together by Lumo Body Tech illustrating the consequences of poor posture and practices. Just more info on how sitting disease manifests and why you need to use a treadmill desk, or at the very least, to be more mindful of how you use your devices.
Pop Quiz: What is the single most prevalent health issue among computer users?
A) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome B) Back Pain C) Weight Gain D) Computer Vision Syndrome E) Physical Addiction to Cat Pictures
If you chose A, B, C, or E, bad news – you’re wrong (though you could make a case for E). If you chose D, then you’re correct. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is shockingly widespread. Some studies have termed it the next office epidemic of the 21st century, and yet very few people have even heard the term. We’re willing to bet you’ve heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, and may have even taken steps to protect yourself against it. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a scary prospect, but [...]
It’s a good thing when fads are questioned. Give some thought to any 2013 pop phenomenon, and you’ll probably agree. Skepticism is even more important in the workplace. Jump on the bandwagon out of the office, and you may find yourself going home with today’s equivalent of the Furby. Do it in the office, and you could be endangering more than your dignity.
So it’s not necessarily a bad thing that we’ve been seeing some backlash against standing and treadmill desks. There’s no denying that standing and treadmill workstations have been enjoying a boom in American workplaces of late, and some people have begun to question whether or not they hold water as an office [...]
This is a departure from our normal blogging topics but we thought it might be fun to share with you what the WorkWhileWalking staffers have adopted as our drink of choice for optimal health, since like you, we’re all into treadmill desking as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
We promise you, if you take a daily dose of this detoxifying concoction instead of that third cup of coffee or can of soda you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your energy level and “digestive tract regularity,” and gain significant long-term benefit to your overall health. Plus it feels good to just know you’re taking better care of yourself.
This recipe [...]
In a fascinating SmartPlanet interview with Linda Stone the 16-year veteran executive formerly of Apple and Microsoft fame shared very keen insights on her research into the effects of technology on modern-day workers.
“I observed people using technologies –- a computer, iPhone –- and looked at what was happening to their pulse and heart rate variability and what that indicated about their breathing. By early 2008 I came up with the phrases ’email apnea’ and ‘screen apnea’ [which are interchangeable]” says Stone.
“We tend to breath-hold or shallow breathe when we sit at a laptop. The computer becomes animated and we become less [...]
Many people hear or read about the concept of a standing desk and are instantly sold on the idea, often purchasing one on the very same day. No one can fault them for wanting to ditch the chair as soon as humanly possible. But what we often find is that even people who’ve been working at a standing desk for many years are unable to use their desk in standing mode for very long—sometimes as little as a half hour per day, max—because their feet, legs, or low back start to hurt.
We’ve collected our five best strategies for getting the most benefit out of your sit-stand desk than you might have ever imagined. These simple life hacks can dramatically reduce your sitting [...]