Exercise promotes health, reducing most people’s risks of developing diabetes and growing obese. But just how, at a cellular level, exercise performs this beneficial magic — what physiological steps are involved and in what order — remains mysterious to a surprising degree.
Several striking new studies, however, provide some clarity by showing that exercise seems able to drastically alter how genes operate.
It’s incredible to think that we have the ability to change how our genes behave by doing simple things in our daily lives. We found this NYT blog post covering several new studies on how exercise impacts our cells inspiring.
What used to come from the ground and be quite good for you, is now flavored in a factory off the Jersey turnpike. We know how that’s worked out for our health.
You might say the same about the workstation.
Through the early 1900s, most people stood at their office desks. Franklin, Churchill, Da Vinci, Nabokov, and Hemingway all preferred it. But most of us now sit – and die faster as a result. 20% faster, if you believe a recent study cited by the New York Times.
Riding a recent resurgence in standing desks comes Rhode Island-based startup Focal Upright Furniture. We’ve never seen anything quite like its Locus Workstation, which includes a full-articulated desk, footrest, and seat.
The seat is the most remarkable. Inspired by an old tractor seat (but hopefully softer), it has you perched somewhere between sitting and standing, a position found to be the most ideal by founder and designer Martin Keen.
You may recognize Keen’s name. Apparently a master of the hybrid, he previously made his mark with the eponymous footwear company he founded, known for its half-shoe, half-sandal favored by outdoor enthusiasts.
The full Locus setup from Focal will run you more than $2,000 – not cheap. But what price for a longer life? Check it out here.
Or, if it’s a less expensive standing option you seek, check out these IKEA hacks – where a couple hundred bucks will get you upright.
Now go forth (and get up already).
1899: Year School Hygiene is published, stating a seated desk can “injure the abdominal organs and the circulation”
1977: Year Nabokov died at 78 from bronchitis (not from sitting)
3: Moans, in descending pitch, uttered by Nabokov upon his death according to his son
Though ergonomics may be a buzzword these days, it’s relevant to all of us. You hear the word often, whether it’s being used to promote chairs, jeans or even sports drinks, but what does it actually mean?
It’s simple, really. Ergonomics is defined as the science of fitting the task and the tools to the user to maximize productivity while reducing discomfort, fatigue and injury. Derived from the Greek words “ergon,” which means “to work,” and “nomos,” which means “natural laws,” ergonomics applies to anywhere you work.
In addition to the traditional office environment, ergonomics is also applicable to alternative workplaces and even home offices. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, working on an assembly line or taking care of patients in a medical environment, ergonomics can impact your life. Ergonomics is about making the workplace fit you and your specific needs, rather than the other way around.
A proactive discipline, ergonomics helps to reduce discomfort in the individual. This can have a ripple effect, increasing job satisfaction, productivity and well-being, thereby helping to reduce costs to the organization in the long run.
So, next time you hear someone name-check “ergonomics,” you’ll know exactly what they mean (or don’t).
Over the past few years there have been a number of interesting new ideas for combating excessive sitting at work. One of the more innovative ideas to emerge is taking the concept of an exercise bike and marrying it up with a height adjustable desk.
The result is the standing desk bike. And it’s awesome.
So, what is this idea all about?
Keeping active while you work
Lifespan, well known for its office treadmill products has now designed an exercise bike specifically for use with a sit stand desk.
The main difference between this bike and the sort of models you find in gyms and health clubs is it doesn’t have handlebars as they would get in the way. And of course you have your desktop to support you.
Once positioned on the bike at a height adjustable desk your body is placed in a far healthier open position than the scrunched up angle associated with sitting in an office chair. It’s stable in use thanks to the self-balancing adjustable strap pedals.
And while the idea is to pedal to keep fit, you simply stop for a rest when you’re ready.
How does it work in practice?
The bike is both portable and sturdy. To move it into position it has a pair of rollers at the rear and tilting it upwards engages them for easy movement. Once lowered the front feet keep it solidly in place.
From there it has a huge range of adjustment positions allowing the seat to be set anywhere between 5 feet and 6 feet 8 inches to suit individual users. It makes the perfect partner for an adjustable height desk and a model such as our AD129 would work best due to its height adjustability range.
There’s no need to worry about finding it hard going as it has some 16 resistance levels making it easy to match it up with your level of fitness. It will comfortably support users up to a weight of 400 lbs.
It even lets you know how you’re progressing.
Using the desktop console
The desk cycle comes with an electronic console which gives users a wealth of information. It lets you know what resistance level you are working at, so as you progress you can alter it to suit your needs. It keeps a record of the time you’ve used it for as well as the number of calories you’ve burned. Lastly, it even shows how far you’ve travelled which is very motivational.
Finding more information about the desk bike
Here’s where you can find information about the LifeSpan desk cycle and the AD129 desk we recommend to use with it.
Portland’s mayor wants city residents to stand up more. Charlie Hales proclaimed July 17 Stand Up for Workplace Wellness Day.
Dr. Claire Wheeler is a professor of community health at Portland State University. At a hearing to declare war on chairs, she said too much sitting increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
For years, she says, people have taken the advice of their doctors and exercised 45 minutes a day. But then they’ve gone back to lie on a couch, sit at a desk or drive.
“Those people think that they’re physically active,” she said. “But intact the rates of heart disease and other illnesses are pretty much the same for them as well,” she explained.
“So we’ve identified a new risk factor, it seems to be even more significant than smoking. An hour of sitting in a chair, can take more time off your life than smoking a single cigarette,” she said.
City Commissioner Steve Novick called for his colleagues to set an example by taking some meetings standing up.
It’s great to be part of such a progressive city and community.
Lifehacker just posted this link to some yoga exercises people can do at their sit-stand desks. Check out these suggestions:
Start with a combination of Mountain Pose (tadasana) followed by Standing Half Moon (ardha chandrasana), a side bending pose.
Move to Tree (vrksasana) on each side and then into Mountain Pose with arms over head (urdhva hastasana).
Interlace fingers behind back and fold forward (Yoga mudra), and finish with a Standing Forward Fold with an easy twist: One hand on the earth (under the face) other hand extended to sky. End in Mountain Pose.
Our height adjustable desks got a nod in the August 2013 issue of Outside Magazine.
Even if you exercise regularly, sitting at your desk all day will kill you. Literally. One study by the American Cancer Society found that men who sit for six or more hours a day are 20 percent more likely to die from a given cause than men who sit for less than three hours.
Check out the full page (and everything it takes to be a desk jock) here, then grab a height adjustable desk at ErgoDepot.com.
Ergo Depot received several mentions in an August 2013 Runner’s World article titled “Is Sitting the New Smoking?”
"A growing body of research shows that people who spend many hours of the day glued to a seat die at an earlier age than those who sit less - even if those sitters exercise…Unfortunately, outside of regularly scheduled exercise sessions, active people sit just as much as their couch-potato peers - an average of 64 hours a week."
Founder David Kahl is quoted alongside reps from Google, Groupon, and other companies that encourage their employees to move during the workday.
Grab the whole article here. (right click » save as)
Ready to take a stand? Check out an array of height adjustable desks on ErgoDepot.com.
Give your boss a friendly hint - click the share button below.
Many people are destined for for an uncomfortable life sitting at work because they have a lousy office chair. Of course the obvious answer is to replace it with a high quality ergonomic chair and yet for many the stumbling block is price as good seats don’t come cheap.
Fortunately a new innovation in sitting, the HumanTool Balanceseat introduces a novel idea for solving the the pain of low quality seating. Instead of replacing your chair you only need to invest in a HumanTool. The good news is it’s no more expensive than a budget task chair.
Let’s dig deeper into how this well thought out product solves sitting discomfort.
What’s it all about? The biggest problem with poor seating is the lack of activity your body gets as you sit. In particular the area around the lower back and pelvic region ends up with virtually no movement for hours at a time. Many muscles start to ache as the lack of use weakens and stresses them.
It’s this problem that the HumanTool Balance Seat tackles very readily.
In appearance it looks like an oversized cycle saddle being similar in shape. However the magic lies in the seat’s design due to the sphere shaped body on which the seat is built.
All that’s needed is to place the Balance Seat in the middle of your existing chair’s seat pad and then sit on it. Thanks to its ball shaped design you’ll immediately notice how much more movement you have in your pelvis and lumbar area. Not only do you get increased backwards and forwards movement, side to side motion is excellent too.
Because the seat places you in a much more open posture similar to riding a horse, your back naturally adopts a healthy position.
To start with it’s advisable to use it for maybe 10 to 15 minutes sessions to let your body get used to it. Underused muscles need time to build up strength after years of lack of use. And as your body adjusts to this new way of working you can increase the length of time you use it for.
Within a month or so you should be able to use it for extended periods, as you muscles start to perform as they should.
Healthier sitting extends beyond the office. Another great thing about the HumanTool is its portability. Supplied with a nylon carry bag it can be taken anywhere and set to use. So when you’re faced with having to sit on uncomfortable seating just pop it out of its bag and put it to work.
Included with the seat is a high density round foam disk. This is intended to improve stability for use on seats with lots of padding or an uneven surface. One other thing to be aware of is that the HumanTool should be used with seating that have backs to act as a stop in the unlikely event of falling backwards.
Like to know more? Here’s where you can find further details on the HumanTool Balance Seat and how it can help you to sit more healthily.
An increasing amount of research confirms the negative health effects of prolonged sitting, which so many of us do when not running. Studies in this new field of “inactive physiology” have suggested that too much sitting should be considered an independent risk factor for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Of course, too much sitting is also bad for runners because of the havoc it wreaks on our hips and hamstrings.
You know the standing desk topic is among our favorites at the RunKeeper HQ, so we wanted to let some of the experts in the space sound off today. Kamron from UpDesk dishes on the health science behind staying on your feet at work. And UpDesk also wants to make it easier for RunKeeper users to get in on the action: so from now until August 15th, your miles can help score you discounts! Walk or run at least 40 miles for a 5% discount to UpDesk or 60 miles for 10%, and email Kamron at UpDesk with your activity log in your profile to get your discount code!
You might have already heard the buzz about standing desks or even that several executives and entrepreneurs alike are now using them. You may have heard about its unique abilities, its customization and found it all a bit hard to believe or that it doesn’t necessarily apply to you. Which leads us to the burning question, why should runners use standing desks?
Believe it or not, standing desks aren’t a new trend. They’ve been around for centuries. Influential people like Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Jefferson were all recorded using a standing desk at some point in their career. While these men didn’t have the research and countless articles we have today, they understood standing was much more instinctive.
Research and multiple articles show prolonged sitting and sedentary behavior have become a serious issue. For example, one in three Americans are obese. Between 1980 and 2000, exercise rates stayed the same, sitting time increased by 8%, and obesity doubled. Don’t forget about our overwhelming reliance on computers and the 40+ hours a week work schedule… now you have an epidemic. In fact, excessive sitting has been coined “the new smoking.”
The beauty of a standing desk is its mass appeal regardless of your vocation or place in life. They can be utilized in elementary schools, universities, law firms, corporate businesses, start-ups, design firms, home offices, etc.
Interestingly, one group doesn’t seem to be using standing desks as much as you might think: runners. Perhaps stand up desks seem less necessary to runners because they figure they’re doing enough. It may surprise you to know, however, the health benefits to standing are broader than you may realize…even if you run regularly. Here are five reasons why:
1. EXERCISE ISN’T ENOUGH
Participating in a daily exercise regimen is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle; however, it’s not the catchall solution. In fact, your well-planned workout basically diminishes if you sit down for an extended amount of time.
The human body was not optimized for sedentary behaviors; and more than ever, those behaviors are becoming more prevalent. Take a second and think about your typical day… How many hours are spent sitting down?
If you are sitting down for up to six hours per day, you just increased the risk of death up to 40%, according to a recent study. Like the name describes, a standing desk allows the user to work standing up on two feet. Standing is a more natural position for the body and it helps to defeat prolonged sitting. Coupling exercise with a standing desk makes for a healthier lifestyle.
2. MAINTAIN A STRONG FOUNDATION
Most of today’s workforce is tied to a chair in some way. Sitting in an office chair all day means that none of the most important muscle groups in your body are getting the activity they need. In order to properly support you, your muscles need to stay active daily.
A standing desk has the ability to engage important leg and core muscles throughout the day, which is particularly attractive to runners who need these muscles to amp up electrical activity and to keep their performance excelling.
3. ENHANCE YOUR CIRCULATION
“The blood circulation system is the prime method of getting needed nutrients to the cells of the body. If blood flow in an area is poor then the cells will find it very difficult to get all of the food nutrients and energy they need to absorb to enable the body to operate in a healthy manner.” (PoorCirculation.org)
Your body’s circulation can be compromised if you’re sitting for the majority of the day. Standing desks enable blood to flow freely throughout the veins, which is essential for nutrients to distribute accordingly.
4. GET AN ENERGY BOOST
Calorie burning drops to only 1 per minute and good cholesterol drops by 20% when sitting down. Additionally, your breaking-down-fat enzymes drop a staggering 90%.
Standing desks are the original energy booster. They help in focusing your attention on the task at hand and you’ll find yourself having more energy, even at the end of the day. Don’t settle for caffeinated drinks and/or clever marketing campaigns… Unlike those things, standing desks have been proven to be a healthier alternative.
5. ALWAYS BE MOVING
Runners should use a standing desk for the very same reasons they enjoy running so much. Your body is in motion when you’re running and the same happens when you’re working at a standing desk.
You’ll catch yourself walking over to a coworker instead of sending an email, talking on the phone while standing up, or even taking steps on a treadmill underneath your desk.
It’s important to understand overall movement is key. In other words, anything in excess can be harmful to the body. Ultimately, finding the perfect balance of sitting and standing should be your end goal.
A height-adjustable standing desk, like UpDesk, offers a solution in finding a more balanced and healthy way of living.
Kamron Kunce is the Director of Social Media for UpDesk. Kamron started his career in the Nashville music industry working with a number of popular artists and joined UpDesk in 2012 just before the brand’s launch.
Why Office Workers Need to Heed The Neutral Reach Zone
Your car is in the shop and you need to borrow a friend’s. It shouldn’t be too complicated, but there’s a snag: your friend insists you don’t alter anything. Your friend is a completely different build from you, and suddenly it’s not so easy. You find yourself struggling to reach critical controls like the steering wheel and indicators. You have to stretch your neck to see in the rear view mirror.
Who can drive like that?
Yet this is exactly how many people approach their office work area. Instead of having things comfortably to hand they stretch and strain to reach basic equipment. All this places the body in awkward postures and causes unnecessary muscle strain. By applying some common sense ideas and having your neutral reach zone correctly configured, these problems can be avoided.
What is the neutral reach zone?
The neutral reach zone is simply the area of your desk which is easily reached without having to stretch to access frequently used tools. Simple enough, right? Generally speaking this is the area within an arc of about 18 to 24 inches of where you are sitting. It should have all your frequently used stuff within it. Beyond this area is where you should place less frequently used items.
So why does all this matter?
Why is the neutral reach zone important?
Think of this area as your own personal cockpit. It’s the hub of where all you work is performed. So if there is a key piece of equipment that is outside this area you’re going to waste time reaching for it throughout the day. More importantly, you’re going to be placing unnecessary strain on your muscles as you keep stretching for it.
Continual movement while working in the office is absolutely vital for a healthy body. What we’re trying to avoid here is making unhealthy stretches and contortions to get to the key stuff we need. Over the course of a day, a week, or a decade these unhealthy movements and positions add up.
How do you set up your neutral reach zone?
Setting up your own personal neutral zone is largely a case of common sense. Begin by observing how you work during the day. What tasks do you do and what tools or equipment do you use to do them?
This will probably include things like:
Pen and paper
Multiple coffee cups, if you work at Ergo Depot
Whatever it is you use frequently during the day needs to be part of your neutral zone.
Once you know the items you can then set about placing them conveniently on your desk. So the first thing would be to get your office chair adjusted to the right height and in a comfortable working position.
Next set up your monitor so that your eyes are level with the top of the screen. Making sure you can read the screen’s content easily without craning your neck, typically about an arm’s length away.
From there place your keyboard so you can type with your wrists straight. Position your mouse so it’s close at hand and you can use it without having to move your arm too far to reach it.
Once you have these things correctly positioned, place any remaining items conveniently to hand.
If you get things properly set up it will ensure you are making good use of your neutral working zone.
What if it were possible to make things even better?
We’ll be back tomorrow with more information on specific tools that can make a big difference.
More and more often we’re talking to people who want to make the switch to LED task lighting from their tired desk lamp. Whether it’s for the minimal environment impact, the incredibly stylish options, or minimizing glare on your computer screen LED lighting has become increasingly popular.
Koncept offers contemporary, powerful LED task lighting. The Equo LED desk lamp has accumulated include Best of Year 2011 Interior Design award, Japan Institute of Design 2011 Good Design award, amongst others. It’s one of our favorites, and a great introduction to the many options in LED task lighting.
For more on the Koncept Equo click here, and to see our full selection of LED task lighting click here.
We are fortunate enough to truly love what we do. Part of that passion means following what people are talking about around the web in terms of ergonomics, adjustable-height desks, and other healthy working topics. Below are links to some of the things we’re thinking about this week:
Congratulations to our new friend Muvman! The new sit-stand chair took home the Buildings Magazine Office Seating Innovation award in Chicago at NeoCon this week. Muvman sit-stand chair has already won a dozen design awards, check them out here. The design team behind the popular Swopper chair has once again put out a compelling, active sitting option to encourage movement Muvment.
Our friends over at Lifehacker have come up with some strategies for surviving a work day on very little or no sleep. One of their ideas is to work standing up. Standing helps fight fatigue, plus it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep on your feet.
Forbes joins the chorus of cries against sitting all day. While the article does have some good information in terms of the health risks of sitting, some of the solutions aren’t exactly what we’d suggest based on our experience with clients. We definitely can’t argue with the general idea though: Sitting at Work can be Deadly.
The Atlantic struck the same note in their piece on the health risks of sitting too much based on a different recent study:
Its most striking finding was that people who sat more than 11 hours a day had a 40% higher risk of dying in the next three years than people who sat less than four hours a day. This was after adjusting for factors such as age, weight, physical activity and general health status, all of which affect the death risk. It also found a clear dose-response effect: the more people sat, the higher their risk of death.
The health risks of sitting too much are certainly real and concerning, but we choose to use adjustable-height desks because it really does feel better at the end of the day. Standing desks are becoming more and more popular with office worker, but the ability to vary your position throughout the day makes the biggest difference in our productivity and energy.
I walked back into our showroom from lunch, and the chair we’d been waiting nearly a year to get our hands on was casually waiting behind my desk.
The heir to the throne, Capisco Puls has been one of the most highly anticipated chairs since its announcement. Fans of Peter Opsvik’s original design looked forward to a sleeker, simpler version of the incredibly iconic chair, and he delivered. The lightweight molded polyurethane seat and back add a refreshed feel to the design.
The Puls’ ability to make one of the most innovative and modern chairs on the market look somewhat dated was one of the first areas where it impressed. After spending a month with the chair in our office, we are confident that fans of the original Capisco, plus new admirers, will be thrilled with the newest addition to the Capisco family.
Having enjoyed the original Capisco daily for the last year and a half, Puls had some big shoes to fill. All of us spent a significant amount of time in the Puls before forming our opinions on the chair.
We love it.
That’s not to say I’d immediately toss out my original Capisco in favor of the Puls, but we will definitely give it a look when it comes time to replace our chairs. And we certainly have no reservations recommending it to any of our active sitting clients.
The key difference is in the materials. Few people would choose to sit on plastic in favor of foam during their work day – me included. HAG understands this, which is why instead of making the entire seat polyurethane, they included foam padding where you need it most. The strip of foam on the seat makes a difference when you’re sitting in the chair for more than an hour at a time.
That brings us to what we feel is the most appropriate way to use the Capisco Puls. We advocate active sitting, and Puls is great for active sitters. We all use quick-adjusting height adjustable desks, and the ability to sit and stand for an hour at a time is perfect for the Puls. If you do significantly more sitting than standing, the extra cushion on the original Capisco might be better suited to your work habits.
All of the same benefits you find in other saddle seats are standard features on the Puls, including cutouts in the seat pan for your legs to hang down, allowing you to more evenly distribute your weight. The cutouts of course also facilitate proper pelvic position (tilted slightly forward) which allow your back to form a natural S-shape curve. If you’d like more specific information on saddle seats, try this.
Another difference is the base and color options. The Puls is available in five sleek shell colors, and a new nylon base option. Featuring the same style and shape as the standard Capisco, the nylon options are exclusive to the Puls.
Other than the optional nylon base, the Puls and the original are identical from the seat down. The patented balanced movement mechanism delivers all of the features that has made the Capisco one of the most versatile chairs on the market for decades. Puls is of course available with three different pneumatic lifts, the same lifts as used on the original Capisco. The tall, 265mm pneumatic lift is ideal for working at a sit-stand desk.
As you can tell, we’re definitely excited about the Puls. If you have any questions, please drop us an email or leave a comment below.
So, you love your new sit stand desk, but it’s reminding you why you spent so much time in your chair to begin with: standing is hard on your feet. We found out the hard way, after standing on our poured concrete showroom floors for hours at a time. Once we came across anti-fatigue mats, it was a no-brainer; we were able to stand for longer periods without experiencing pain in our feet and calves.
When you invest in a height adjustable desk it’s well worth adding an anti fatigue mat to your new set up. The good news is you’re likely only looking at an investment of $60. It especially makes sense if you’ve spent many years sitting in an office chair, because your body will need to get used to a new way of working. Think of it as an inexpensive chair for your feet.
Standing to work means rarely used muscles in your feet, calves and even upper legs suddenly have to support your body’s weight. While this isn’t normally a major problem, an anti fatigue mat will help to cushion the load.
You might think it won’t make much difference. Most offices are carpeted, so wouldn’t that be enough support? Office carpets and carpet tiles typically don’t have much give in them and are actually firmer to stand on for long periods than you might imagine.
Adding extra support in the form of a plush anti-fatigue mat makes sense, even before knowing the specific benefits.
What are the benefits of an anti-fatigue mat?
When you stand to work, particularly when you haven’t done so regularly, it’s surprising how quickly your feet and calves tire. The connection between body and floor is pretty firm meaning that your feet and leg muscles suddenly have to do a lot more to support you. A good quality anti-fatigue mat forms a cushion between you and the floor and helps take the harshness out of standing.
A properly designed mat will offer comfortable resilience and remove the hard connection. And it’s not a good idea to just pick any old mat or area rug for sit stand working.
What should you look for in an anti-fatigue mat?
It’s easy to think that all that’s needed is a slab of foam rubber, surely that will do? There’s a bit more to it than that. The core of an anti-fatigue mat will indeed be foam rubber based, but not just any old rubber. When you use cheap foams they just flatten and bottom out meaning you gain no benefit. What’s needed is a durable closed cell sponge which is designed to be resilient and retain its springiness so you really do get a proper cushioning effect.
Other types of mats should be avoided too. Many of these have been designed for use in manufacturing and are intended to form a gasket between workers and cold concrete floors. These sorts of mats are usually rigid and firm and don’t have any give in them. Let’s look at what’s needed for the office.
What makes a good choice of anti-fatigue mat for the office?
As we have have already seen, the core of the mat should be made from high quality, closed cell sponge. When this level of foam is used it’s possible to get good comfort with a sponge thickness between 3/8” to 3/4” thick.
Just a minute, isn’t there a chance you will trip over the mat? With a well designed mat the sponge core is generally encapsulated in high quality plastic. Not only that the edges should be chamfered all round to avoid being a trip hazard. Carefully taking these points into consideration will help you select the right mat.
In our experience, the anti-fatigue mat is a simple addition to your sit-stand routine. In our showroom, when we aren’t using the mat, we simply slide it under the desk and hop back in a chair for a spell. In fact, take a look at the image next to this post. I snapped a photo while writing to give you a sense of how we work. After a year and a half of daily use on our anti-fatigue mats, they still hold their shape well and are thankfully very easy to clean.
Let’s quickly summarize the main points we’ve covered here:
An anti-fatigue mat is a great low cost addition to a height adjustable desk
It helps cushion your feet and calves when you start standing to work
Standing on firm surfaces can be quite tiring
A good anti-fatigue mat will have a high quality closed cell sponge core
Industrial or rigid mats aren’t suitable for sit stand working
Chamfered edges all round minimize any trip hazard
The perfect mat for your adjustable height desk
We’ve carefully researched suitable mats and recommend the Rhino anti-fatigue range of mats. You can find out what’s available here.
Two years ago the New York Times published a roundtable discussion of professional ergonomists along with other experts in the field on whether sitting is really that bad for you. Their answers? A collection of resounding “Yes!” responses.
How to deal with the inevitability of sitting for eight+ hours per day, on the other hand, was not as cut and dried. The thread tying the responses together was the idea that we all need to move more throughout our day. Of course, if you’ve visited our blog before you won’t be surprised to learn that wetotallyagree.
If you haven’t already, check out the article here. Or, if you prefer the CliffsNotes, a couple of highlights are below.
Galen Cranz, UC Berkeley:
…some postures are better than others. The neutral body posture, as NASA calls it, is half way between sitting and standing; it balances our musculature between front and back…Also called the perch position, it requires a higher than currently conventional desk, not a standing desk, but definitely higher than 28 inches.
Jack Dennerlein, Harvard School of Public Health:
Get up and move frequently.
Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Pennington Biomedical Research Center:
The take-home message should be that the more time we spend out of the chair, the healthier we are likely to be.
Each week we welcome clients into our showroom to test drive our saddle seats, kneeling chairs, and more traditional seating options. And each week we find people recognizing that one of the most effective changes you can make to encourage active sitting is to avoid sitting, and stand for part or all of your work day.
Over the past 12 months we’ve watched thousands of people make the switch to sit-to-stand desks. The abundance of information has helped make the case that moving throughout the work day is good for employees and employers alike. Whether alleviating back and neck strain, looking to shed some extra calories, or simply wanting to feel better at the end of the day, adding the ability to stand to your active sitting regimen is a realistic and substantial change you can make.
Again, there is plenty of information available about the health benefits around the web and on our site, but as a part of our active sitting series, we thought we’d take a quick look at what it’s actually like to use a sit-stand desk in an office.
Personally, I’m more of a sitter than a stander. I’ve set a goal for myself of standing up 15 minutes of every hour, and for the past year that’s worked well for me. Over the course of a typical day I’ll switch between sitting to standing several times. I often find myself standing for well past my planned 15 minutes, resuming sitting again after an hour or two. A coworker I’ll refer to as W, on the other hand, will stand well into the afternoon before sitting for the rest of the day. He’s sort of a showoff that way, but we appreciate his dedication to active sitting working all the same.
One of the most under-rated and reported on features of an electric height-adjustable desk is the ability to vary its height throughout the day—without the limits of simply sitting or standing. While the chair you are currently sitting in will absolutely work with this type of desk, the desire to sit at a traditional height of 28 or 30 inches suddenly becomes much less attractive when you can move your chair and your desk up and work at 34 or even 38 inches. We call this position semi-standing, or perching. At these heights you are able to open your hip angle which emulates the natural posture your spine takes while standing.
Put plainly: it just feels better to sit higher.
There are literally dozens of ways to use an electric height-adjustable desk. If you’ve recently made the switch or were an early adopter, we’d love to hear how you use your desk throughout your work day and how it might have evolved. As always, questions, opinions, and suggestions are welcome in the comment section.
All of us would love the chance to be more active during the day. Unfortunately, the fact for many of us is extended periods of sitting is part of our daily reality. It’s been the norm for so long, it feels like there really isn’t an alternative to sitting in a traditional office chair for eight hours per day. The kneeling chair concept was invented to reduce the amount of damage we do to our bodies during these prolonged periods of sitting.
The kneeling chair encourages an upright and natural posture, an open hip angle, and proper spine alignment. Sound familiar? The same basic principles that make the saddle seat an excellent option for active sitting are also fundamental components of kneeling chairs. Both the kneeling chair and saddle seat encourage your body to move while seated, they just approach it differently.
The kneeling chair works by aligning the user’s head, spine, and hips through the ankle while seated. This position not only fully supports the spine without the need for lumbar or back support, but requires the user to regularly readjust and find this natural balance line.
When getting ready to fall asleep tonight, take note of the position of your legs. Chances are you don’t sleep with them at a 90 degree angle in front of you, but rather tucked under you slightly. Kneeling chairs achieve this same posture by tilting the pelvis forward in the chair while supporting the body’s weight with knee pads/platforms.
For those with lower work surface heights a kneeling chair can be a great option to encourage active sitting.
Ergo Depot offers a number of kneeling chairs from the Varier Balans collection. To learn more about which chair might be best for you, give us a call or check out the video below.
Occasionally, clients call us a few days after receiving their HAG Capisco chair, explaining they are experiencing discomfort. This is a completely normal occurrence, and one we refer to as the “Capisco Break-in Period”.
Your normal, everyday task chair affords your body many ways to laze, cheat, slouch, or otherwise cause damage by putting you into positions that are unnatural and unhealthy. Not so with the Capisco. The Capisco’s unique saddle seat design and patented Balanced Movement Mechanism™ force your body to keep itself in balance. We like to think of it as “Capisco tough love.” The Capisco chair will help your body remember the more natural, and healthy positions to sustainably support itself.
For some users, the Capisco break-in period will last about 2-3 weeks. The discomfort you experience during this period might be felt in the thighs, groin, buttocks, abdomen, lower back and/or the neck-shoulder region. Many people jump in the Capisco saddle and experience no break in period at all. If you are one of those lucky people, congratulations! For the rest of us, the break-in period is a small price to pay for reconnecting with better posture and a healthier lifestyle.
Note: If you are experiencing pain while using the Capisco chair, this is not normal and we suggest that you contact your dealer immediately.
USA Today released an article on a new report which links sitting too long to breast cancer and colon cancer. While this isn’t news to many of our clients, the health risks of prolonged sitting are slowly creeping their way into the national conscious.
Alpa Patel of the American Cancer Society commented on the study:
In a study of 123,000 people, she found that the more time people spent sitting, the higher their risk of dying early. “Even among individuals who were regularly active, the risk of dying prematurely was higher among those who spent more time sitting,” she says.
Even if you are doing half an hour of aerobic activity a day, you need to make sure you don’t sit the rest of the day, Patel says. “You have to get up and take breaks from sitting.”
For more in our active sitting series, click here for our saddle seat introduction, and here for our active sitting introduction.
It’s probably obvious we’re big fans of the HAG Capisco, but many other saddle seats such as Via’s Swopper, the Varier Move stool, and the Bambach saddle seat offer nearly identical benefits as the Capisco.
The Swopper is one the more fun saddle seats on the market. Its spring mechanism encourages not just movement but actual bouncing. Many users find the Swopper similar to the experience of working on an exercise ball, but without the hassle of pumping it up once a week plus the added flexibility to vary your seat height as needed.
The Varier Move stool is one of the most popular saddle chair options for people with a taller work surface. The Move stool offers the perfect amount of support for workers who want to take a break from standing and perch on their seat for a spell. The concave bottom allows you to lean forward on the saddle, as opposed to just sitting on top of the seat, further opening the hip angle. The Move stool is also designed to encourage repositioning your weight and rebalancing yourself throughout the day. Again, similar to an exercise ball, but actually designed for sitting.
Last, and certainly not least, is the Bambach saddle seat. Specifically designed to minimize many common complaints associated with extended sitting (neck, shoulder, and back pain), this Australian-designed saddle seat is quickly becoming one of our most popular saddle seats. For horse or motorcycle riders the saddle on this chair will feel very familiar. For those of you who are used to slouching your way through your work day, the Bambach saddle seat hardly gives you a chance.
This all sounds great, but my lower back isn’t in good shape and I don’t think I could make it without lumbar support.
The long and short of it is: when your spine is properly aligned, lumbar support (in the form of a backrest) isn’t necessary. That’s not to say sitting back and relaxing is something to be avoided at all costs, but it’s important to recognize why back support is present in traditional task chairs, and absent in most saddle seats and kneeling chairs. When we move away from the 90° sitting angle, to something closer to 130°, the lower part of the spine that creates the “S” shape is able to fully support the upper body. When we are sitting with an 90° angle the pelvis is positioned in a way that straightens out (rather than maintains the curve) this crucial part of our spine.
This advice works for many people, but not for everyone. If you have any type of the medical issue involving the back, hips, or any other area affected while you are seated, we would strongly advise consulting with a medical professional on your specific situation.
How is your active sitting going? While taking more breaks throughout the day seems like a no-brainer, sometimes it’s just impossible to get away from your desk. We receive dozens of calls and emails each week asking what can be done to help alleviate the discomfort of sitting for 8 - 10 hours per day for those who plainly can’t leave their desk as often as they’d like.
Our responses to these questions usually vary depending on what type of work environment someone is in. One option people return to time and again is a saddle seat. And, as users of the HAG Capisco chair we couldn’t agree more.
The American market is catching up to what workers in Europe and Australia have known for years: a flat, deep seat pan isn’t necessarily the best way to work—it’s certainly not the most ergonomic.
So, what makes a saddle seat a good choice for my new task chair?
Glad you asked.
Saddle seats allow your legs to rest down in front of you rather than positioning the thighs directly in front, parallel to the floor. In other words, the cutouts let gravity do its job on the legs, letting the legs settle downward with the knees ending up below the waist in an open angle position. This position allows you to more evenly distribute your weight throughout the lower half of your body instead of relying on your lower back to keep your spine aligned. An open hip angle encourages proper spine alignment, facilitating not just better posture, but better breathing and circulation.
Saddle seats (along with kneeling chairs) do a remarkable job of helping your spine stay in alignment. Because your body has to work a little bit harder in a saddle seat—keeping your spine aligned properly requires more from your core muscles than a traditional chair—these types of chairs naturally facilitate active sitting without the user thinking much about it throughout the day.
Plus, it just feels better than slouching back in a chair for several hours per day.
We’ll be following up with specific saddle seat recommendations in the next couple days. In the mean time, we’d love to hear what your favorite saddle seat is in the comments.
Update: Our post on specific saddle seats is available here.
It’s amazing what an evening walk can do to clear your head after a tiring day of work. Moving around after sitting in the same position for several hours in a row almost feels like a luxury. While it’s unlikely the benefits of a family walk can be replicated in the sitting experience in an office chair, there are tools which can help your body feel better at the end of your day.
We are major advocates of Active Sitting. No, that doesn’t mean chair dancing in your cubical—though if you decide to take that up please send us the video footage. What active sitting means to us is the ability to vary your position throughout your work day. Whether that means raising your worksurface so you are able to perch on the edge of your chair, using a saddle seat or kneeling chair for your work, or simply taking more frequent breaks throughout the day—it’s whatever works best for you.
The idea of “taking breaks” doesn’t sound like it fits into the idea of “active sitting” for some folks. For us at Ergo Depot, we believe that varying your position throughout the day, either in a chair or out, will help your body feel better. By getting up from your desk and taking a walk around the office or the block, your blood will oxygenate, improving your mental acuity and attention span. Of course, after your break it’s tough to plop down in the chair that gave you those leg cramps and lower back pain to begin with.
There are, of course, ways of avoiding the discomfort that comes from sitting in a traditional office chair for 40 hours per week: Don’t sit in one! Alternative seating options such as saddle seats and kneeling chairs are making their way into offices across the country and users are finding their bodies responding well to the change.
Tune in next week to find out why a saddle chair could be the change your body needs to stay focused throughout the day.
You don’t just wake up one morning and design one of the best-selling office chairs of all time. No, of course not.
You design sewing machines, airplane seats, plus the John Deere tractor and spend some time teaching at the best American universities first.
Well, if you’re Neils Diffrient, now 83-years old, that’s how you’d structure a six-decade long career as one of America’s best-known and most respected industrial designers.
It’s hard to imagine a world of ergonomics without the contributions of Niels Diffrient. In 1955 Diffrient x-rayed the spine in a chair to see first-hand the effects of office chairs on our bodies, becoming the first American designer to examine the needs of the body rather than the needs of the office environment:
“For a chair, you have to learn a lot about how to deal with the body and what the body needs and wants….The one thing [office workers] don’t need is a chair that interferes with their main reason for sitting [in the office], so I took the approach that the chair should do as much for them as humanly possible…so that they didn’t have to fuss with it.”
The result is the iconic Freedom task chair, one of Humanscale’s best-selling products for the past decade. By eliminating manual adjustments Diffrient created a new standard in ergonomics, one where the user exerts minimal effort in order to enjoy the many features of the Freedom task chair. The Freedom chair adjusts to each user’s weight using the intelligent counterbalance mechanism. From adjustable arm rests to a position-sensitive headrest that automatically moves out of the way when sitting upright, the adjustments are not just automatic, but numerous on the Freedom chair.
Diffrient often cites “restraint” and “efficiency” as his primary focus in his design. While many contemporary designers begin with a sketch of the final product, Diffrient begins his work on the chair mechanism—the function—before concerning himself with the aesthetics of the chair.
Discussing his newest chair design, the Diffrient World chair by Humanscale, he calmly and with a remarkable sense of lucidity dismisses the idea that a chair should be seductive or compelling. Again he explains favoring function over form: “It’s more important to stick around, that’s part of efficiency.” He explains that his newest chair design did not come to him in the form of a “thunderbolt” but rather after “years of practice and focus.”
Considering Diffrient’s proclivity for and emphasis on efficient, functional design, it’s remarkable that he’s been so successful in creating stylistically iconic chairs for the past two decades. What’s more, the rest of America’s industrial designers could take his commitment to efficiency, not just in design but in manufacturing, as a challenge to simplify their own designs. Touching on what he calls his “old fashion term: efficiency,” Diffrient explains how this goal is not only beneficial for the chair’s user, but for the environment:
"Efficiency was around and answering a lot of our needs long before this focus on the environment. If one makes one’s approach to design to be efficient, it includes all of the factors all of the factors needed to be environmentally responsible.”
It’s truly hard to imagine an 83-year old who is more ahead of his time than Niels Diffrient. With his newest and perhaps most impressive chair now available, we’d encourage anyone who values efficiency, fantastic design and a commitment to the environment to check out the Diffrient World chair by Humanscale.
The Balans kneeling chair collection by Variér is one of the most enduring ergonomic designs of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Beginning with the original Balans design, The Variable Balans, Peter Opsivik pioneered the way we think about sitting by encouraging the body to move while seated. Furthermore, by sitting in a kneeling position the body is encouraged to sit upright, helping to support the natural s-shaped curve of the spine.
The Variable, Thatsit, Wing, and Multi Balans chairs serve the user in slightly different capacities, so we thought we’d make a video demonstrating the differences between these iconic kneeling chairs. If you have any questions about these Variér kneeling chairs, please contact the kneeling chair experts at Ergo Depot.
Today they posted a link to a website that estimates the additional calories you can burn simply by standing to work. Those of us at Ergo Headquarters all took a minute to enter our weight and estimated hours standing and were pleasantly surprised by the results.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to stand during your work day and benefits to adjustable-height desks, but this is certainly a nice little bonus.
We feel strongly that, just as with chairs, when it comes to desks: one size does not fit all.
We spend time, money and energy in finding just the right chair, monitor arm, keyboard tray and mouse, but without an adjustable-height work surface to use these tools with, can you consider your workstation truly ergonomic? For us, the addition of an adjustable-height, or “sit-stand desk,” to our work station was a completely natural extension. With tons of research behind this type of work station, the only question for us was finding something that worked seamlessly with our existing ergo tools. Keep reading to learn about the benefits and different types of adjustable height work stations.
It’s not just us at Ergo Depot touting the benefits of an adjustable-height work surface. Cornell University researchers, the American Cancer Society, along with several other industry research leaders have concluded what many office workers have known for years: your body is not meant to sit in a fixed position eight hours per day, 40 hours per week.
Just last year the American Cancer Society published a sobering study, finding that of 123,000 healthy Americans (with no prior history of heart attack, cancer, stroke, or lung disease) mortality rates rose 18% in men and an even more startling 37% in women who spent more than six hours per day sitting when compared with those who sat fewer than three hours per day.
Think about it: just a few generations ago when most of us would have been working in agriculture, do you think there was time to sit for six or eight hours per day? Or what about when we were all still running around looking for berries and sleeping in caves?
While the benefits of an adjustable-height work surface on the lower half of the body might seem obvious (better circulation, alleviating pressure on the back of the legs, increased movement), a study by Cornell University found that participants experienced a “significant decrease in the severity of muscuolskeletal discomfort for most upper body regions” (Cornell 2004). Furthermore, while most workers had experienced daily discomfort during the afternoon along with a decrease in productivity, researchers found improvement in both categories after just 4 - 6 weeks of using an adjustable height work surface.
The research is clearly in favor of adjustable-height work surfaces, but it’s the end-users’ experience that really gets us excited about working in this new way.
We repeatedly hear from folks that they expected to stand up 15 minutes here or there during the work day, but after a couple of weeks with an adjustable-height desk they find themselves standing 3 - 6 hours a day without thinking about it. What’s more, people love the ability to vary their position throughout the day, something that can’t be achieved by sitting in a traditional office chair for eight hours per day, especially one that forces your back and legs into a 90 degree angle. By working in a wide range of positions throughout the day, your blood circulates more effectively, alleviating pressure in the backs of legs or in your lower back. Standing helps your body achieve the natural “S-shape” curve of the spine, again taking pressure off of the lower back and opening up the body’s airways.
When you get home at the end of your day, do you stand up to relax? Of course not. When we are seated our airways and blood flow are compressed, leading to fatigue and a lack of attentiveness — which isn’t always a problem. Our body is of course capable of sitting for long stretches, but when we’re working, we want to give the body its best chance to feel good and alert. If our body and mind were fully alert while we sat down to watch reality television for an hour per night, we’d likely never make it to the first commercial break.
After sorting through the mounds of research on adjustable-heights desks, we then had to sort through the different types of adjustable-height work stations.
The standing desk has been a popular option for architects and artists for several decades. While standing for eight hours straight tends to be much better for your body than sitting for that same period of time, the standing desk was too limited for our needs. After all, sitting can be a welcome break after hours of standing, and we find it to be conducive to certain types tasks. Over the past decade or so hand-crank adjustable height desks have been popping up more and more in the U.S. This can be a great option, but when we found an affordable electric adjustable-height desk option the choice was clear: anything that with the push of a button allows you to vary your position throughout the day is the right choice for us.
The fine folks over at unplggd have posted a series of videos demonstrating different exercises you can do to help cut back on your wrist strain throughout the day.
Do you find wrist strain to be a problem throughout your day? There are a number of differentproducts out there designed to help alleviate the discomfort felt by using your keyboard and mouse for several hours a day, but maybe a few minutes of stretching throughout the day is really the best way to avoid all of that pain.
Tell us what solutions, whether products or stretches, have worked for you in the comments.
One of the world’s most popular and innovative saddle seats just got a make over.
The HAG Capisco Puls boasts a slick new look while honoring the components that have made the original Capisco one of the world’s most popular task chairs since its debut in 1984: comfortable saddle seat, out of the way elbow/arm rests, a passion for both design and ergonomics, and a commitment to the environment in its design and manufacturing.
It’s almost as though Peter Opsvik—the designer of the original Capisco along with numerous other iconic chairs—looked at the Capisco and simply hit “refresh.”
The main feature that has made the original Capisco one of Ergo Depot’s best-selling products for several years running—the ability to encourage movement—remains at the core of the updated Capisco Puls.
The standard saddle seat supports users perching towards the front of their chair when the pneumatic lift is in a higher, half-standing position, achieving an open hip angle. By sitting with an open hip angle (rather than a traditional knee tilt position, legs parallel to the ground), the spine naturally creates the S-shape curve it was designed for. The open hip angle means your legs are able to take some of the pressure off of your lower back and hips by helping support your body, in addition to allowing better blood circulation throughout your body, of course leading to more energy.
Opsvik himself said: “I believe that the spine is happiest when it can adopt the natural curvature that it has when we stand upright.” Who wouldn’t want to work like that?
The Puls’ back is of course cut from the same figurative mold as its older sibling, the original Capisco. The major differences between the two aren’t in the iconic style of the Capisco back, but in the materials. While the original Capisco is fully padded around the seat back, in keeping with its minimalist aesthetic the Puls back is made primarily of plastic with a strip of foam padding to support your spine. The Puls, like the original, uses recycled household plastic in its parts and recycled car bumpers in its foam padding—surprisingly comfortable. The seat for the Puls is available in plastic with a strip of padding where you need it most, or with an extra cushion option.
Like all HAG products, comfort, durability and sustainability are all standard on the Capisco Puls. Also standard are some of our favorite features of the original Capisco: exceptionally comfortable saddle seat, foot plates to rest your feet where you’re inclined to anyway and the manual adjustments that make this chair the perfect fit for nearly all body types. And of course, a Capisco wouldn’t be a Capisco without the three pneumatic lift height options, allowing the users flexibility in their work surface height, encouraging variation and movement throughout the day.
The Capisco Puls has already received two prestigious design awards in over the past few months, including the 2011 iF Product Design Award in the Office Furniture category along with the 2011 Red Dot Design award in the Best Product Design category. Not too shabby.
As you can probably tell, we’re excited about this new chair offering from HAG. Please let us know in the comments below whether you think this new addition to the Capisco line will be the big hit we think it will.
Can’t wait to get yours? We don’t blame you. Just look how much fun this guy is having!