ergoActive work-space wellness designer Phil Brady

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50 Benefits of Active Sitting

Posted by Phil Brady on March 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are a workplace wellness coordinator you need to be aware of what the increasingly educated employee is growing more aware these days about the dangers of sitting too long at their desks.  The sedentary workforce has their eyes open to the problem Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic calls, The Sitting Disease and the cure is Active Relaxation Computer Workstations.  Workplace wellness can find tremendous success if it is built on a strong foundation of Work Space Wellness.  

Active Sitting:

1. Switches on the body’s metabolic furnace, allowing efficient calorie burning.

2. Stimulate the lymphatic system and wards off disease.

3. Stimulates brain function, improving memory as much as 15% in a 6 month period.

4. Increases blood flow to the brain and increases productivity.

5. Improves mood and wards off mild depression without medication.

6. Promotes significant weight loss and control of appetite.

7. Prevents onset of Type II Diabetes and assists with control.

8. Improves blood circulation throughout the body.

9. Improves lung capacity.

10. Promotes healthy restorative sleep patterns.

11. Bolsters the immune system.

12. Prevent bone loss (osteoporosis).

13. Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

14. Reduce bad cholesterol (LDL).

15. Improves blood lipid profiles.

16. Increases good cholesterol (HDL) levels.

17. Reduces overall body fat.

18. Enhance mental well-being.

19. Reduces the risk of colon cancer.

20. May reduce the risk of breast cancer.

21. Reduces inflammation from arthritis and osteoarthritis.

22. Increases flexibility and coordination, reducing risks of falls.

23. Reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimers.

24. Consistently INCREASES LIFE SPAN.

25. Relieves back pain.

26. Assists in recoveries after some surgeries.

27. May reduce side effects of chemotherapy.

28. Increases strength of leg and back muscles.

29. Prevents loss of work from sick days.

30. Increases overall fitness levels and health.

31. Prevents arthritis in the knees.

32. Assists in the rehabilitation of stroke victims.

33. Frees up more personal time and time with family,

34. Significantly reduces stress levels.

35.  Makes exercise automatic and habit forming.

36. Can assist in reducing high blood pressure.

37.  Lowers the risk of gallstones and gall bladder surgeries.

38.  Stimulates release of dopamine, increasing levels of happiness.

39.  May decrease risk of heart disease in women by 40%.

40.  May decrease risk of stroke in men by as much as 50%.

41. Assists in reducing health care costs.

42. Reduces necessity for some medications.

43. May decrease the risk of contracting glaucoma.

44. Increases regularity, decreases incidence of constipation.

45. Lessens the stress on your lower back.

46. Increases libido, enhances sex lives.

47. Decreases the incidence of impotence.

48. Decreases incidence of sleep apnea; enhances sleep.

49. Protects against likelihood of hip fractures.

50. Increases levels of self-satisfaction and wellness.

Wellness Works

Posted by Phil Brady on March 18, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

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Beats the Stairs

Posted by Phil Brady on March 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Good Design Should MORPH into Better Design

Posted by Phil Brady on March 12, 2012 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Recent Attempts at Ergonomic Design don't allow for Movement & Exercise My inspiration for my ErgoMorphis Sdesigns came from a need to be able to exercise while I work. As a technician who worked in a call center of a major alarm service company for nearly ten years, I suffered a tremendous decrease in health due to sitting too long behind a computer screen. I needed an answer to this problem and came up with one after much trial and error.

Netsurfer Classic

 

The Gravitous

The Nethrone

 

Comfort is only part of the problem computer workstation designers need to solve today. Obesity is on the rise and is a strain on the health insurance industry. While these and others similiar designs do address the need for ergonomic comfort, they all lack body movement and exercise.

We have become an information processing society that requires long hours of sitting behind a computer to do our work. Balance Seating is the new term that allows for best sitting posture for the desk worker. This sitting posture is also found in house back riding as well.

The Sit-Stand Posture provides a good working posture.

This next example is a chair designed by a South Korean Ergonomic Chair Manufacturing company called Inno-chair. This multifunctional chair, model # TT-A600, allows for stretching movement and rollers on the back reset offer a massage while leaning back. The sitting posture still is a traditional posture and is not a healthy working posture.

 

Standing tall at the office

Posted by Phil Brady on April 7, 2011 at 12:02 AM Comments comments (0)

By Heather McWilliams – Boulder County Business Report

October 29, 2010 –

ERIE — For workers tethered to a desk by a phone, keyboard, computer and other modern office equipment, sitting down on the job can be a real pain. A pain in the neck, in the back or in any other joint caused by improper position or equipment use. For many the solution can be simple: stand up.

“Our bodies are not made to be static, especially in a seated position,” said Nick McElhiney, owner of Erie-based Ergonomic Evolution LLC. As a certified ergonomic assessment specialist, McElhiney evaluates how humans interact with their work station and suggests changes to prevent or reverse injuries caused by everyday tasks such as talking on the phone or typing on a keyboard.

“In a nut shell, I teach people how to sit at a desk,” McElhiney said, and more and more frequently he teaches people not to just sit but to stand.

“Old school ergonomics was about getting people in this perfect position and then keeping them there,” McElhiney said. Now ergonomists teach people that sitting puts more pressure on the back and creates an unnatural spinal alignment. Unrelieved sitting or improper sitting pushes the hips and neck forward creating pressure where none is meant to be, and recent research shows that varying position or standing can improve such problems.

“When we’re standing we don’t need as much support because our bodies go into a naturally supportive state,” McElhiney said. Standing also improves blood flow and burns calories, with some studies showing a decrease in heart disease for workers who stand for part of the day, McElhiney said.

He estimates between time at an office desk, behind the wheel and on the couch in front of the television, modern workers spend one-third of their lives sitting down. Standing work stations can help alleviate injuries associated with working from a chair.

Standing work stations provide desk space, including room for a computer monitor, a keyboard and mouse platform and space for other typical desk items such as a phone or stapler. Adjustable to a person’s height, the stations allow people to work just as they would when seated only standing up.

“Most people would choose it if they could,” McElhiney said, but he warns standing all day at a work station can create its own set of problems and an ideal desk would adjust to a seated position as well. With sit-stand desks running at $1,500, McElhiney said cost makes a complete sit-stand system financially impractical for many. McElhiney offers an attachment converting a standard seated desk to a sit-stand model for a third of that cost, about $500.

“They do have some limitations, but it’s a low-cost fix that does improve ergonomic fit,” McElhiney said. Even standing a few times an hour to stretch, vary your position and refocus can go a long way to preventing repetitive use injuries, he said.

Ergonomics encompasses a huge range of study looking at interactions between humans and their environment, said Michael Rodriguez, treasurer for the local chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society and a senior human factors engineer at InfoPrint Solutions Co. in Boulder.

“A lot of it started during World War II when the military was having problems with certain types of aircraft pilots crashing,” Rodriguez said. crashes which only occurred with certain model planes. A careful study concluded the flap and landing gear controls felt similar to pilots, causing accidental landing gear retraction or flap movement when landing and taking off. Redesigning the controls so the flap lever was flat and the landing gear control round and rubber solved the problem.

Ergonomic injuries — sometimes known as musculoskeletal injuries — often stem from repetitive motions, poor position, improper equipment use or improperly fitted equipment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. While most office injuries aren’t life threatening like accidentally retracted landing gear, they do cause thousands of work absences each year, according to Bureau figures.

They are also a leading cause of workman compensation claims, said ergonomist and physical therapist for Boulder Community Hospital, Martha Spaulding. She estimates 75 percent or more of ergonomic injuries could be resolved using proper fit and variable positions, increasing productivity and saving employers money in the long run. Spaulding evaluates work sites at the hospital to stop problems before they start.

“It’s harder to go back once you’ve created a real chronic kind of problem,” Spaulding said. “It’s cheaper to fix it ahead of time.”

For employers who bring in an ergonomist to prevent or reverse ergonomic injuries there’s a psychological benefit for employees, too, McElhiney said.

“When an employer provides some care for an employee they feel valued and cared for. If they’re healthy, they do better work.”

Why your desk job is slowly killing you

Posted by Phil Brady on April 6, 2011 at 11:57 PM Comments comments (0)

October 26, 2010

Even if you exercise, the more hours a day you sit, the greater your risk of early death

By Maria Masters, Men’s Health

Do you lead an active lifestyle or a sedentary one? The question is simple, but the answer may not be as obvious as you think. Let’s say, for example, you’re a busy guy who works 60 hours a week at a desk job but who still manages to find time for five 45-minute bouts of exercise. Most experts would label you as active. (Put your body to the test: 10 standards to assess your fitness level.) But Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., has another name for you: couch potato. Perhaps “exercising couch potato” would be more accurate, but Hamilton, a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, would still classify you as sedentary. “People tend to view physical activity on a single continuum,” he says. “On the far side, you have a person who exercises a lot; on the other, a person who doesn’t exercise at all. However, they’re not necessarily polar opposites.”

Hamilton’s take, which is supported by a growing body of research, is that the amount of time you exercise and the amount of time you spend on your butt are completely separate factors for heart-disease risk. New evidence suggests, in fact, that the more hours a day you sit, the greater your likelihood of dying an earlier death regardless of how much you exercise or how lean you are. That’s right: Even a sculpted six-pack can’t protect you from your chair.

But it’s not just your heart that’s at risk from too much sitting; your hips, spine, and shoulders could also suffer. In fact, it’s not a leap to say that a chair-potato lifestyle can ruin you from head to toe.

Statistically speaking, we’re working out as much as we were 30 years ago. It’s just that we’re leading more sedentary lives overall. A 2006 University of Minnesota study found that from 1980 to 2000, the percentage of people who reported exercising regularly remained the same—but the amount of time people spent sitting rose by 8 percent.

Now consider how much we sit today compared with, say, 160 years ago. In a clever study, Dutch researchers created a sort of historical theme park and recruited actors to play 1850s Australian settlers for a week. The men did everything from chop wood to forage for food, and the scientists compared their activity levels with those of modern office workers. The result: The actors did the equivalent of walking 3 to 8 miles more a day than the deskbound men. That kind of activity is perhaps even more needed in today’s fast-food nation than it was in the 1800s, but not just because it boosts calorie burn. (Tied to the treadmill? Try these seven ways to burn more fat on the belt.)

A 2010 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that when healthy men limited their number of footsteps by 85 percent for 2 weeks, they experienced a 17 percent decrease in insulin sensitivity, raising their diabetes risk. “We’ve done a lot to keep people alive longer, but that doesn’t mean we’re healthier,” says Hamilton.

Today’s death rate is about 43 percent lower than it was in 1960, but back then, less than 1 percent of Americans had diabetes and only 13 percent were obese. Compare that with now, when 6 percent are diagnosed with diabetes and 35 percent are obese.

The definition of an active life

Make no mistake: “Regularly exercising is not the same as being active,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., Hamilton’s colleague at Pennington, the nation’s leading obesity research center. Katzmarzyk is referring to the difference between official exercise activity, such as running, biking, or lifting weights, and so-called nonexercise activity, like walking to your car, mowing the lawn, or simply standing. “A person may hit the gym every day, but if he’s sitting a good deal of the rest of the time, he’s probably not leading an overall active life,” says Katzmarzyk.

You might dismiss this as scientific semantics, but energy expenditure statistics support Katzmarzyk’s notion. In a 2007 report, University of Missouri scientists said that people with the highest levels of nonexercise activity (but little to no actual “exercise”) burned significantly more calories a week than those who ran 35 miles a week but accumulated only a moderate amount of nonexercise activity.

“It can be as simple as standing more,” Katzmarzyk says. For instance, a “standing” worker—say, a sales clerk at a Banana Republic store—burns about 1,500 calories while on the job; a person behind a desk might expend roughly 1,000 calories. That goes a long way in explaining why people gain 16 pounds, on average, within 8 months of starting sedentary office work, according to a study from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Work your entire body in 15 minutes with these three moves for fast muscle.

Why sitting too much is never a good thing

But calories aren’t the only problem. In 2009, Katzmarzyk studied the lifestyle habits of more than 17,000 men and women and found that the people who sat for almost the entire day were 54 percent more likely to end up clutching their chests than those who sat for almost none of the time. That’s no surprise, of course, except that it didn’t matter how much the sitters weighed or how often they exercised. “The evidence that sitting is associated with heart disease is very strong,” says Katzmarzyk. “We see it in people who smoke and people who don’t. We see it in people who are regular exercisers and those who aren’t. Sitting is an independent risk factor.”

This isn’t actually a new discovery. In a British study published in 1953, scientists examined two groups of workers: bus drivers and trolley conductors. At first glance, the two occupations appeared to be pretty similar. But while the bus drivers were more likely to sit down for their entire day, the trolley conductors were running up and down the stairs and aisles of the double-decker trolleys. As it turned out, the bus drivers were nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease as the conductors were.

A more recent interpretation of that study, published in 2004, found that none of the participants ever exercised. But the two groups did sit for different amounts of time. The analysis revealed that even after the scientists accounted for differences in waist size—an indicator of belly fat—the bus drivers were still more likely to die before the conductors did. So the bus drivers were at higher risk not simply because their sedentary jobs made them resemble Ralph Kramden, but also because all that sitting truly was making them unhealthy.

Hamilton came to call this area of science “inactivity physiology” while he was conducting studies to determine how exercise affects an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). Found in humans as well as mice, LPL’s main responsibility is to break down fat in the bloodstream to use as energy. If a mouse (or a man) doesn’t have this enzyme, or if the enzyme doesn’t work in their leg muscles, the fat is stored instead of burned as fuel.

Hamilton discovered that when the rodents were forced to lie down for most of their waking hours, LPL activity in their leg muscles plummeted. But when they simply stood around most of the time, the gene was 10 times more active. That’s when he added an exercise session to the lab-rat routine and found that exercise had no effect on LPL. He believes the finding also applies to people.

“Humans sit too much, so you have to treat the problem specifically,” says Hamilton. “The cure for too much sitting isn’t more exercise. Exercise is good, of course, but the average person could never do enough to counteract the effect of hours and hours of chair time.”

If you’re chair-bound, perform these seven easy office stretches every 20 minutes.

“We know there’s a gene in the body that causes heart disease, but it doesn’t respond to exercise no matter how often or how hard you work out,” he says. “And yet the activity of the gene becomes worse from sitting—or rather, the complete and utter lack of contractile activity in your muscles. So the more nonexercise activity you do, the more total time you spend on your feet and out of your chair. That’s the real cure.”

“Your body adapts to what you do most often,” says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S., a Men’s Health advisor and physical therapist in Indianapolis, Indiana. “So if you sit in a chair all day, you’ll essentially become better adapted to sitting in a chair.” The trouble is, that makes you less adept at standing, walking, running, and jumping, all of which a truly healthy human should be able to do with proficiency. “Older folks have a harder time moving around than younger people do,” says Hartman. “That’s not simply because of age; it’s because what you do consistently from day to day manifests itself over time, for both good and bad.”

Inactivity affects more than the heart

Do you sit all day at a desk? You’re courting muscle stiffness, poor balance and mobility, and lower-back, neck, and hip pain. But to understand why, you’ll need a quick primer on fascia, a tough connective tissue that covers all your muscles. While fascia is pliable, it tends to “set” in the position your muscles are in most often. So if you sit most of the time, your fascia adapts to that specific position.

Now think about where your hips and thighs are in relation to your torso while you’re sitting. They’re bent, which causes the muscles on the front of your thighs, known as hip flexors, to contract slightly, or shorten. The more you sit, the more the fascia will keep your hip flexors shortened. “If you’ve ever seen a guy walk with a forward lean, it’s often because of shortened hip flexors,” says Hartman. “The muscles don’t stretch as they naturally should. As a result, he’s not walking tall and straight because his fascia has adapted more to sitting than standing.”

This same effect can be seen in other areas of your body. For instance, if you spend a lot of time with your shoulders and upper back slumped over a keyboard, this eventually becomes your normal posture. “That’s not just an issue in terms of how you look; it frequently leads to chronic neck and shoulder pain,” says Hartman. Also, people who frequently cross their legs a certain way can experience hip imbalances. “This makes your entire lower body less stable, which decreases your agility and athletic performance and increases your risk for injuries,” Hartman says. Add all this up, and a person who sits a lot is less efficient not only at exercising, but also at simply moving from, say, the couch to the refrigerator.

There’s yet another problem with all that sitting. “If you spend too much time in a chair, your glute muscles will actually ‘forget’ how to fire,” says Hartman. This phenomenon is aptly nicknamed “gluteal amnesia.” A basic-anatomy reminder: Your glutes, or butt muscles, are your body’s largest muscle group. So if they aren’t functioning properly, you won’t be able to squat or deadlift as much weight, and you won’t burn as much fat. After all, muscles burn calories. And that makes your glutes a powerful furnace for fat—a furnace that’s probably been switched off if you spend most of the day on your duff.

It gets worse. Weak glutes as well as tight hip flexors cause your pelvis to tilt forward. This puts stress on your lumbar spine, resulting in lower-back pain. It also pushes your belly out, which gives you a protruding gut even if you don’t have an ounce of fat. “The changes to your muscles and posture from sitting are so small that you won’t notice them at first. But as you reach your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, they’ll gradually become worse,” says Hartman, “and a lot harder to fix.”

So what’s a desk jockey to do? Hamilton’s advice: Think in terms of two spectrums of activity. One represents the activities you do that are considered regular exercise. But another denotes the amount of time you spend sitting versus the time you spend on your feet. “Then every day, make the small choices that will help move you in the right direction on that sitting-versus-standing spectrum,” says Hamilton. “Stand while you’re talking on the phone. It all adds up, and it all matters.”

Of course, there’s a problem with all of this: It kills all our lame excuses for not exercising (no time for the gym, fungus on the shower-room floor, a rerun of The Office you haven’t seen). Now we have to redefine “workout” to include every waking moment of our days. But there’s a big payoff: more of those days to enjoy in the future. So get up off your chair and start nonexercising.

Obesity Crisis

Posted by Phil Brady on April 6, 2011 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Real Health Care REFORM must include OBESITY PREVENTION.

 

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