As the American workplace, has shifted from farm and factory work, to less physically demanding careers where Americans spend most their days sitting, major health risks have emerged.
Recent research has linked sitting for long periods of time with several health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, not to mention chronic back pain. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
New furniture innovations such as hydraulic adjustable workstations and benches provide a possible solution to this growing concern.
What is a Height Adjustable Workstation?
A height adjustable workstation is designed to hold your monitor and keyboard, or your laptop and other work necessities at an angle and height that ensures you can stand and work comfortably.
Whether in an office, laboratory of factory setting these workstations provide tremendous flexibility to workers that will allow them to manage their environment more effectively and reduce the risks posed by too much sitting.
The height of these types of workstations is easily adjustable allowing workers to move from a sitting to a standing position by using a hand crank or a motorized system.
Adjustable workstations allow management to easily adapt a workstation or bench to accommodate a wide variety of people (aging, disabled, obese or perfectly healthy), instead of trying to adapt a diverse workforce to one or two fixed desk configurations.
This adaptability allows users to work using their bodies’ optimal “Neutral Posture” – which is the work posture where your body is at its strongest and most efficient.
Height adjustable workstations have a positive impact on productivity in the workplace. Employees who alternate between sitting and standing positions will have more energy, experience reduced fatigue levels, and reduce their risk of injury caused by working in one body position too long.
Height Adjustable desks allow multiple users to quickly move the work surface to meet their individual needs. Workers also may notice less fatigue, relief from back pain problems and greater calorie burn from more activity during the work day.
Sitting is the New Smoking
Recent studies are suggesting that all of this sitting in the American workplace is a hazard to our health.
“Americans sit more than ever before – at work, at school, even at play. Chained to your chair? Obesity expert Dr. James Levine calls that dangerous behavior. Like tobacco, he says, sitting is hazardous to your health.
“Sitting all day long is literally killing us,” claims Levine who treats obesity at the Mayo Clinic, one of the country's premiere research hospitals.
Levine’s research has turned conventional thinking about exercise on its head. Many think a dose of exercise is a perfect prescription for good health, but Levine’s research shows that a daily trip to the gym, while beneficial, can’t undo the damage done from sitting all day.” (Source: NBC News)
Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What's more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk according to Levine.
Why is this?
When you sit all day, even in a healthy ergonomic sitting posture, your overall health goes into decline. When the human body is standing, pressure on the intervertebral discs of the lower back is low, much lower than when we sit unsupported.
Standing uses about 20% more energy than sitting however, so your body tires more quickly than sitting – hence the calorie burn.
Adjustable Workstations – The Solution?
Scientists like Dr. Levine have weighed in and suggested the following best practice as one potential solution.
Alternating between sitting and standing positions will help to keep our bodies healthy and prevent illness. Regular movement adjusts the amount of load being put on the body, increases specific body part rest intervals, and thus reduces the adverse effect of risk factors.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by having the right equipment in your workplace. An adjustable height workstation may be one of the most effective tools in fighting the damage being caused by too much sitting.
By making it more comfortable to work, ergonomic benches can reduce lost time, hours and worker’s compensation claims.
Take a look today to see if this type of system may work in your facility.