Sitting for long hours in a day is bad for health and it has been proven by research. A 2010 study shows how much time is spent sitting in today’s society. People are sitting at their jobs, on the way to their jobs, in cars, at home, etc. As a result, a deterioration in overall health can be seen across the globe. For example, the Australian National Preventative Health Task Force Report closely ties sitting at the workplace with health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
But what does this mean for the average person?
Statistics are often undervalued together with research. Not much has changed in the way people work over the past years. Some countries around the world tried to reduce the average workday from 8 to 6 hours. Sweden tried it and it worked for the employees but it proved costly to the employers. However, data from the experiment in Sweden can lead to the idea that maximum productivity is most likely achieved in good health.
There is supportive evidence to prove the benefits of standing while instead of sitting, and this could be a better alternative. Studies suggest policies should be implemented to incorporate new technologies. These technologies are named as height-adjustable desks together with the break-up of extended periods of sitting at work.
The above-mentioned 2010 study and Sweden’s workday experiment represent real tools for better health in relation to jobs which require sitting. Improvements can be made, even when facing fatigue. The right posture is a good place to start and even with height-adjustable desks, this should be the first concern of the modern day office worker. Taking breaks is also recommended, even with these modern desks. But the good news is that implementing these tips can lead to better productivity. But there are more important issues than productivity and they are closely tied to good health. So if workers want to diminish health risks associated with sitting, they can start applying the following tips when transitioning to standing.
1. Posture is key
Sitting for long periods of time can lead to different posture problems. This problem is considerably improved with a smart height-adjustable desk, but even with these desks, there are a few key areas which can be further improved.
Rounded shoulders and forward head translation can occur even while standing. A simple way to establish if this is your case is to have your picture taken from the side. If the ears are not aligned with the shoulders, the forward head translation can indicate bad posture.
This condition can affect people in different degrees. Obviously, the more the head is leaning away from the shoulders, the worse the condition. An incorrect way of dealing with this issue is simply leaning backward.
The right way to improve your posture starts from the lower lumbar curve. Its curve is natural but if the curve arches too much, it affects the posture from the base of the spine. The upper back area also needs to be addressed. It can be easily achieved simply by lifting the chest which will automatically push the head and the shoulders back as well.
Of course, improving posture takes time but these small posture adjustments can be made as often as needed in order to reduce fatigue while working at a desk.
2. Supportive shoes are recommended
Insoles and orthotics are now sold in stores. They can be used to improve the support of the shoes which are sometimes not doing a great job. Since you are standing for hours every day, the shoes become more important than the office chair you normally use for work.
There are different types of shoes to consider for standing. However, all shoes need to offer a good balance between support and cushioning. If the insole of the shoe is too soft, it lacks proper support. If it’s made from hard foam, it can even be uncomfortable.
Insoles are sold as generic products and they can be superior to what your shoes come with from the factory. However, the best insoles, especially if you have feet issues, come with custom insoles.
Many workers are just unaware of how bad shoes can impact overall fatigue while working. If you have flat feet or high arches, you need dedicated shoes for the right support. This can be simply measured by the contour your wet feet leave on the tile after showering. For example, if flat feet come with pressure mounts or contours which are representative for the entire surface of the foot, it is a sign of a fallen arch. Alternatively, people with high arches would see more pressure on the ball of the foot and on the heel area. This simple technique can be used to determine the type of shoe or insole needed for the right posture.
3. Sitting and standing alternation
Since there is increasing evidence to support the theory that sitting is bad for health, many workers are tempted to use a standing desk. But going from years of sitting to standing all day long can be difficult. In many cases, it can even come with added fatigue which can be rooted in various causes such as weak muscles or poor posture.
It is why many specialists recommend a healthy alternation between sitting and standing. Height-adjustable desks are perfect for this situation. This alternation is even recommended to increase movement through the day. Since it takes a constant adjustment to move and even to stand, the human body can really benefit from this alternation to beat static periods and even fatigue.
You can also transition from standing to sitting as you fatigue through the day. For example, the working day can start in a standing position and it can finish in a sitting position as energy levels go down. Research shows that alternating sitting and standing can increase energy expenditure at work to a small degree. The study was made on overweight people, which means that it can also imply that alternating sitting and standing is a good way to transition towards standing, which requires more energy.
4. Take your eyes off the screen
Eye strain is one of the biggest issues to asses when it comes to general fatigue. Staring at screens for long hours can come with itching, tired eyes or even more severe symptoms. It is recommended to look away from the screen after 20 minutes. Taking these brakes can help your eyes relax. A general recommendation includes looking 20 feet away for up to 20 seconds.
One of the main benefits of smart height-adjustable desks is that they allow the screen to come to eye height level. This means that it will also facilitate proper posture, which can suffer when the screen is in a lower position.
It is considered that the monitor should be at a distance between 20 and 30cm from your eyes. But screen brightness can affect the distance you have from your screen.
First signs of eye strain
Interestingly, not all people can tell when they need a monitor break. Eye strain can accumulate in time and vision can suffer. But the first signs of eye strain include
- Sore eyes
- Itching eyes
- Watery or dry eyes
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Concentration issues
Many of these problems are caused by the light of the monitor. But some of them can be caused by reduced blinking, which often happens while staring at screens. So while screens are not going away anytime soon, using a note on the monitor as a reminder to look away from time to time can be a good way to reduce eye strain.
5. Stretching as a habit
Stretching has been always recommended for those sitting or standing for long periods in the day. Since stretching can also be an educative tool for improved posture, it is recommended for most people. There are hundreds of stretches to consider. But the best ones are the stretches which can be performed right at the desk.
- Seated cobra stretch
As one of the main causes of fatigue, rounded shoulders need to be dealt with. The seated cobra stretch has the palms facing forward in a position which is maintained up to 15 seconds. With a straight back and the palms facing forward alongside the body, the shoulders are forced into the right natural position.
- Thoracic spine twist
For this exercise, the hands need to be placed at the back of the head. The torso is then rotated 45 degrees to the left and then to the right. This can be done 3 to 5 times when needed.
- Neck stretch
The neck stretch is the simplest type of stress to reduce stress and fatigue. It can be performed from a seated or from a standing position. With your right hand, you can gently pull the head towards the right shoulder. The stretch is maintained up to 10 seconds before being repeated on the left side with the left hand.
6. Avoid rigid standing
Varying the positions in which you stand can be beneficial when tackling fatigue. Since this engages different muscles of the legs and of the back, varying the standing position is recommended for the everyday worker.
Certain floor mats have been specially designed for this purpose. They can be used as an alternative to standing on hard floors. But at the same time, they can be used alternatively, only to change the activated muscles while standing.
Another good method to tackle fatigue without sitting down is using a footstool. This allows each leg to rest at a time while standing. Empty boxes or piles of books work great for this purpose as well.
Other underestimated tips
Standing is considered better than sitting when it comes to desk jobs. But even in these conditions, people may still struggle to make the transition after years of working from a sitting position.
One of the best aids to beat fatigue is to understand how much you stand every day. As with most habits, there are various apps for this. Stand App or Stand Up are great apps which work on most modern smartphones. They can track the time spent standing and sitting. They can also estimate the calories burned while standing. So if workers are trying to beat fatigue at the work desk, these types of apps can be used to set a daily goal for standing.
Other tips involve avoiding bad habits which could be the root of the problem. Women can limit wearing heels to work. If working in a standing position, heels can cause fatigue in a short period of time. Another less popular method which has supportive data comes with compression socks. If you want to beat fatigue and tired legs, compressions socks can improve the blood flow in the legs, while also keeping them warmer.
If you apply these tips with no visible fatigue reduction, it might be a sign of more serious health issues. It might also be a good time to see a chiropractor for proper posture control and for further investigations.
Beating work fatigue is easier with a smart height adjustable desk. But the change may not be as easy as many people would think, especially after decades of sitting. It is why the tips above are a great way to improve posture and as a result, reduce work-related fatigue.
These changes require conscious effort, but study after study proves the fact that being healthier considerably increases productivity. So while reducing the workday is not realistic for most workers, making the most of it by aiming for proper health and productivity is recommended instead.
Standing is recommended by many professionals as a new way of working. If done correctly, it can totally eliminate the need to sit while at work. Most importantly, it comes with health benefits and considerably lower risks of cardiovascular issues. As shown in various studies, standing and added physical activity levels should be promoted as public policies, especially in the conditions in which there is an increasing trend of sedentary behavior for the average worker.
- No Comment.