Environmental and Ergonomic Ideas to Stay Healthy in The Office
Working in an office day in and day out may help you bring home the bacon, but it may also be contributing to your poor health. Here are some office ergonomic ideas tips to help you stay healthy - and wealthy!
Did you know that the average office worker sits about 10 hours a day? This time includes not only the time at your actual office desk, but also takes into account commuter time and being sedentary after work (watching TV, surfing the internet at home). This is why office ergonomics takes a center stage when designing your office and purchasing furniture for your office.
How you design your office desk and environment is very important for your health. EmaxHealth spoke with Boris Gefter of Jason.L asking about the most popular types of office desks people prefer in an effort of making health and ergonomic changes in their work environment. It appears that people prefer the adjustable standup desks more, because they allow increased activity. "The most popular types of desks right now are height adjustable standup desks, as they allow for increased activity in an otherwise sedentary occupation," replied of Gefter to Emaxhealth in a written statement.
Prolonged Sitting Contributes to Chronic Disease
Obviously, all of that sitting is not good for your waistline. Prolonged sedentary time contributes to weight gain. A past study found that 41% of people report gaining weight at their present job. The professions with the highest reports of weight gain include administrative assistants, engineers, teachers, nurse practitioners, IT managers, legal professionals, production workers and scientists.
Weight gain can happen even if you are meticulous about your diet. Gavin Bradley, director of Active Working, an international group aimed at reducing excessive sitting, says that metabolism slows down a whopping 90% after just 30 minutes of sitting.
In addition to weight gain and abdominal obesity, this prolonged sitting also contributes to chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Observational studies suggest that sedentary workers have more than twice the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a 13% increased risk of cancer, and a 17% increased risk of dying from all causes.
Of course, there are several ways to combat this sedentary behavior – without a lot of excess expense on fancy office equipment. An expert publishing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people should take breaks – either standing or moving around the office – for at least two out of eight working hours.
Set a timer on your computer or your phone that alerts you to move at regular intervals during the day. For example, set the timer so that you are on the move during the last 10 minutes of each hour. Other active examples include walking to your colleague’s desk to discuss a project or hand them a paper (versus using email), take all calls while standing, and using the stairs instead of the elevator. Even just doing some standing stretches near your desk can be very helpful.
Also, make every effort to take an actual lunch break each day – working through lunch isn’t good for your body or your mind.
A study by workplace consulting group Right Management finds that only one in five office workers reports taking an actual lunch break away from their desks. But keep this in mind – even a short 15 or 20 minute break away is proven to improve concentration levels, making you more productive than if you spent that same time sitting in front of the computer screen.
A short walk can also do wonders for your mood – if you find your aches and pains and fatigue are contributing to poor workplace relations!
Staying Healthy While Sitting: Ensure Ergonomic Worksplace
Sometimes, you just have days where it is impossible to leave your desk. So for those days, you want to make sure your workspace is ergonomically correct for your body.
Back and neck pain are common complaints among office workers which may be a result of your posture while you work or of incorrectly positioned chairs and computer screens.
Remember that every person is different – so what works for one office mate may not be the best solution for you. But keep in mind these basic tips for choosing ergonomics office furniture:
Ergonomics Office Furniture Guidelines
- Look for a fully adjustable chair so that you can set the height properly. Chair height is important for preventing both chronic and acute pain and inflammation. Your chair should allow you to sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips.
- While sitting in an office chair, sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back can alternate with sitting back against the support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles.
- Supportive ergonomic “props” can help take the strain off the spine, such as footrests or portable lumbar back supports.
- Adjust your computer screen so that the top is approximately 5 centimeters above eye level.
- Your keyboard should sit so that your elbows remain at approximately a 90-degree angle (wrists in neutral position, not higher or lower than your hands) and so that you do not have to reach for the keys or the mouse.
After Work Tips for Staying Health
After you finally knock off for the day, you may feel too tired to do anything besides veg-out in front of the TV. Try to resist the temptation! Set time aside for rejuvenation.
Exercise is obviously important. Even if you do all of the above tips for tackling sedentary behaviors in the workplace, it is still critical to set aside some time for some moderate intensity exercise to build cardiovascular fitness.
You should also set some time aside in the evening to connect with someone. Spend some quality family time over dinner or even take a family walk outside in nicer weather. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Get together with friends for a friendly softball game or a night of painting.
And of course, get plenty of sleep at night so you can get up tomorrow and do it all over again! If you follow these easy and simple office ergonomics tips and ideas you will not only decrease physical stress and fatigue, but also increase office productivity and comfort.
- USA Today, Workplace Weight Gain
- Washington Post: Office workers are sitting too much and it’s killing them
- Spine Health: Ten tips for improving posture and ergonomics
- Jason.L: Your office furniture mate
- Fast Company: 8 Reasons you should take that lunch break