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. Even in the laboratory environment, laboratory workstations need to have the capability to be designed for the demanding environment and maintain productivity and efficiency.
Let's look at the issue.
Sitting Is The New Smoking
Recent studies are suggesting that all of this sitting in the American workplace is a hazard to our health.
Here is what one medical expert is saying:
“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.
According to WebMD, here are 12 ways too much sitting can impact you:
1. Those that sit are about twice as likely to get heart disease as those that stand.
2. You’re more likely to die earlier from any cause if you sit for long stretches at a time.
3. If you sit too much, your brain could look just like that of someone with dementia.
4. The effects of too much sitting are hard to counter with exercise.
5. Your odds of diabetes rise.
6. You can get deep vein thrombosis(DVT).
7. You are more likely to be overweight or obese.
8. Too much screen-based activity may disrupt your sleep and create more anxiety.
9. It puts huge stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine.
10. It leads to varicose veins.
11. You are more likely to get osteoporosis.
12. You may be more likely to get colon, endometrial, or lung cancer.
So, if you are shocked by all of that, let's look at how a height adjustable workstation can help you.
What is a Height Adjustable Workstation?
A height adjustable workstation is designed to hold your monitor and keyboard, your laptop, tools and other work necessities at an angle and height that ensures you can stand and work comfortably.
Whether in an office, laboratory or factory setting, these workstations provide tremendous flexibility to workers. These workstations 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 either 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 (especially people of differing ages and heights), 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.
Adjustable Workstations – The Solution?
According to Dr. Joan Vernikos, former Director of Life Sciences at NASA Headquarters, “Every time you stand up, the body initiates a shift in fluids, volume, and hormones, and causes muscles to contract. And almost every nerve in the body is stimulated.”
So, alternating between sitting and standing positions helps 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.
Having an adjustable height workstation allows employees to transition from sitting to standing easily and 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 from work and worker’s compensation claims.
Take a look today to see if this type of system may work in your facility.