Technology has undoubtedly made the office a more productive place, but sitting in a chair for hours lends itself to the onset of injuries and contributes to long-term health issues. People often forget that they should stand up and walk around frequently, and conventional office furniture tends to cause poor posture problems. Studies have shown that many people report chronic health problems from this activity (or inactivity, more precisely). What is ergonomics? Ergonomics is the study of designing workplaces, products, and systems to fit the people who use them. The products, in this case, are the different types of furniture we use, specifically chairs and desks, that we have in the workplace.
The design of an office ergonomic chair keeps a person’s body in a safe and upright position while working in the office. This body position, in turn, reduces stress and strain on the hips, back, and neck which can prevent many issues experienced by office workers. This is essential for the health of employees and can also improve productivity.
Standing desks have been gaining in popularity over recent years. The main idea behind a standing desk is that it allows a person to stand at a desk and work versus sitting for extended periods, leading to a variety of health issues. There are benefits ascribed to standing desks, but are these significant?
One of the main benefits touted by advocates of standing desks is that standing desks burn more calories than sitting, leading to weight loss over time. A recently published study describes fitting healthy people with masks to measure oxygen consumption to indicate how many calories they burned sitting compared to standing. The researchers found that a person burns about 80 calories per hour sitting and working at a desk, which is about the same as watching TV or typing. In the same study, the researchers discovered that those people who stood burned about 88 calories. In an eight-hour workday, a person would burn about 56 extra calories, which hardly seems significant in weight loss. By comparison, walking for an hour uses about 210 calories. A person would benefit much more from walking for half an hour during lunch hour, which would burn about 100 extra calories each day.
Research has also shown that we sit too much during our workday at the office. Sitting increases the chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and blood clots. Studies have produced some dramatic statistics on the adverse effects of sitting for extended periods. People who sit for long periods without getting up and moving around have a greater chance of having a heart attack. Men and women who sit more than 6 hours per day have a much higher mortality rate.
You may be thinking that regular exercise counteracts these negative impacts of prolonged sitting. Following a regular exercise regimen is an excellent idea for a person’s health, but research has shown that it does not fully offset the effects of excessive sitting. The only way to fully compensate for too much sitting is not to sit too much! There is also evidence that a standing desk helps reduce back pain and other repetitive stress injuries.
Perhaps the best approach to working in the office is to use an excellent ergonomic chair with a standard desk and a quality standing desk. Switching back and forth between the two modes of work provides the best of both situations. Spend half of the workday using the ergonomic chair and desk and the other half using the standing desk. After all, standing too much also has problems, such as potential leg and foot pain. Using both an outstanding ergonomic chair along with a high-quality standing desk can lead to a much healthier workplace. Ergonomic chairs are not always that expensive and it is possible to get the best office chair under $500. While this may still sound a little expensive, it is definitely worth the investment due to the benefits it can bring.