Why Stand?

Call Centers and Body Aches October 23 2015

If you’re working at a sedentary environment    such as a call center, have you ever wondered why your neck and shoulders ache after a day’s work? That no matter how many massages you get they keep on coming back. Research shows that call center workers are at a high risk of upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms due to poor workstation characteristics and psychological stress.

D’Errico et. al (2010) discovered a high incidence of upper limb musculoskeletal symptoms -  especially in the shoulder-neck region amongst call center workers. According to data gathered from surveying 775 workers from seven call centers in Turin, Italy - neck pains were the highest (39%), followed by shoulders (22%), hand-wrist (10%) and elbow symptoms (4%). Symptoms are greatly influenced by two things: psychological stress, which can be observed with the pressures that are associated with work; and ergonomic factors    such as the comfort and functional design within their work areas.

Work stress can never be completely removed; it can be lessened by being more organized, but still dependent on one's workload. Alternatively, more staff can be hired to share the workload, but that can be financially stressful. The ergonomic factor, on the other hand, can be modified by having alternative workstation designs such as ones that can be height-adjusted to provide adequate back and forearm support and mobility at the same time.

Stand up desks provide workers the ability to adjust their keyboards at a comfortable height parallel to monitors, preventing neck and shoulder strains and making workers feel comfortable while working. They are a cost-effective long term investment that offices and call centers can provide their employees, as they have a lot of benefits not only in productivity, but for a workers’ health as well.

 

Reference:

D’ Errico, A., Caputo, P., Falcone, U., Fubini, L., Gilardi, L., Mamo, C., Coffano, E. (2010). Risk Factors for Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Symptoms among Call Center Employees. Journal of Occupational Health, 52, 115-124.


Prolonged Sitting and Sedentary Lifestyle: Predictors of Weight Gain in Postmenopausal Women October 16 2015

Prolonged sitting is a leading cause of weight gain in postmenopausal women. A study published by Obesity reveals that women of healthy BMIs in the 1960s are now 17 to 26 pounds heavier due to having a sedentary lifestyle. Americans have an overwhelming obesity epidemic amongst all age groups. To the middle-aged and older populations - this is a striking health issue. Extreme weight gain often starts before the middle age. In fact, according to a study published by JAMA, 7.5 percent of non-obese women become obese within a 6-year period.

Too Much Sitting – The Most Common Factor for Weight Gain:

The most common culprit for weight gain amongst middle aged women is too much sitting. TV viewing consumes as much as 4.5 hours of an average adult’s non-working waking hours; another 6 hours are spent reading newspapers and magazines, using the tablet and surfing the internet, according to the Statistics Portal.

How to measure Obesity:

Being overweight or obese means that the body’s weight is greater than the weight ideal for that height. The body mass index is an estimate of one’s total body fat using height and weight – a useful indicator of obesity.  A BMI above the ideal value leads to a greater risk for chronic health problems.

Abdominal obesity - too much fat around the waistline, is another good predictor of possible health risks. For women, the risk increases when the waistline goes over 35 inches. In men, that risk increases when the waistline goes past 40 inches.

Health Risks of Being Obese:

Being overweight and obese are not just aesthetic problems. Having obesity greatly increases the risk for high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, abnormal blood fat levels, cancer, and many other chronic health diseases, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

How to get rid of obesity:

Regular physical activity coupled with healthy dieting are effective defenses against weight gain. Lack of regular exercise and other recreational physical activity increases the odds of gaining weight and possible development of overweight BMI. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily for a healthy body weight and prevention of chronic health problems

References:

Obesity; Sedentary Behavior, Recreational Physical Activity, and 7-Year Weight Gain among Postmenopausal U.S. Women; Blanck, H.M. et al; June 2007

JAMA; Television watching and other sedentary behaviors in relation to risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in women; Hu, F.B. et al;
April 2003

Bureau of Labor Statistics: American Time Use Survey Summary

The Statistics Portal: Average daily media use in the United States from 2010 to 2014 (in minutes)

 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Are Overweight and Obesity?

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005

 


Sedentary Behavior and its Link to Breast Cancer October 16 2015

Isn’t it nice to lounge around while working - having that comfortable chair supporting your back throughout that busy shift at work? No matter how comfy it may seem, ladies and gents beware - for too much sitting at work is hazardous to your health, as studies have linked prolonged sitting with increased risk of breast cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer among women.

In 2011, a total of 76 studies on the association between physical activity and breast cancer risk on both genders have been investigated by Loprinzi. Physical activity was measured during leisure time, transportation, household, and occupational settings.  Results yield that 53% were found to give physical activity a protective effect against breast cancer risk, with 37% yielding a non-significant risk reduction, and 10% having no evidence for the correlation between physical activity and breast cancer risk.

That doesn’t stop there, being physically active does NOT mean stretching your arms and legs every once in a while.  Regular physical activity is recommended at an early age to further decrease the risk of breast cancer - especially if you have other risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer, overweight BMI, and being beyond the menopausal age. But what makes physical activity so important for decreasing your risk of contracting breast cancer?  The exertion of physical activity controls certain factors that greatly affect the production of cancer cells affecting your breasts.

 Innovators have found the answer to sedentary jobs by developing stand up desks that can be adjusted according to the worker’s preferred height. These desks provide the option to be active while being productive at the same time. A worker’s routine is not interrupted as the desk can easily slide up and back down by a simple touch of a button.

Other alternatives to being active at work includes doing period stretches for a few minutes, using your breaks to walk around a bit, some good old fashioned stair-climbing instead of using the elevator, or even enjoying the way to work by walking to clear your mind and keeping those muscles active to complete 150-minutes moderate activity or 75-minutes high activity per week.  Observing the food we eat and living healthy can also help decrease the risk of cancer. Aside from that, regular cancer screening - such as getting a mammogram for early detection plays an important role to help cancer development prevention. Take a stand against breast cancer today! 

Reference:

Loprinzi, P.D., Cardinal, B.J., Smit, E., & Winters-Stone, K.M. (2011). Physical activity and breast cancer
risk. Journal of Exercise, Science & Fitness 10 (2012) 1-7.

 

 


Does Your Occupation Put You At A Greater Risk For A Stroke? October 09 2015

Do you spend most of your time at work sitting? Although sitting may seem comfortable for you, it is actually a silent killer! Stroke is known to be caused by many risk factors such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, obesity, and smoking - but recently, a study made by Kumar, Prasad & Kathuria (2014) discovered that prolonged sitting also contributes to this unpleasant condition. This study explored the correlation between jobs involving prolonged sitting and ischemic stroke in the North Indian population. The hypothesis was proven true after conducting research on 224 participants. 

To avert this risk, consider modifying workplace activity policies and alternative furniture, such as stand up desks! Stand up desks encourage the employee to reduce the amount of time spent sitting at work resulting in increased blood circulation throughout the body, greatly reducing the risk of stroke. 

But wait, hold on! The road to having an active lifestyle doesn’t stop there - being active for at least 30 minutes per day, eating healthy, and not smoking will also provide amazing improvements to your quality of life - especially if you’re spending lots of time in an office. 

 

Reference:

Kumar, A., Prasad, M., &Kathuria, P. (2014). Sitting occupations are an independent risk factor for Ischemic stroke in the Nothern Indian population. International Journal of Neuroscience,  7.

Prolonged Sitting and its Relation to Blood Clots October 02 2015

Gone are the days where we had to walk to the post office to send mail, go to the store to pick out a gadget we like, or even walk to the other room across the office just to have some good ‘ol cooler gossip. With the many benefits of technology making work possible just by a few clicks on the keyboard, more activities have and are soon to become sedentary, but is it worth the convenience? Study shows that there is a correlation between developing venous thromboembolism (VTE), otherwise known as blood clots in the veins, and those that sit for most periods of the day at work similarly to going on long distance air travels.

A study conducted by Bridget Healy et. al (2010) in New Zealand involving 197 patients attending outpatient venous thromboembolism discovered that 9.6% have found that prolonged work and computer-related seated mobility increases the risk of VTE.  She suggested that both work environment and behaviors contributed to the risk of VTE and that employees are twice as likely to have a venous thromboembolism if they had their own desk and always ate their lunch at work, putting them at a risk similar to air travelers on long-haul flights.

A solution to this health risk is to stay active during work by taking frequent breaks to stretch and move around, breaking the chain of immobility. Innovations that can change workplace mobility are adjustable desks, or more popularly known as stand-up desks. They can be adjusted to promote mobility without compromising productivity. They promote comfort and personalization because every worker has a different body type and height that needs to be tailored with their workspace.

 

Reference:

Healy, B., Levin, E., Perrin, K., Weatherall, M., & Beasley, R. (2010). Prolonged work-and computer-
related seated immobility and risk of venous thromboembolism. Journal of the Royal Society of
Medicine, 103 (11), 447-454.

Sitting All Day and Metabolic Syndrome: Is There a Link Between the Two? September 25 2015

Sitting all day is one thing you need to avoid to prevent yourself from developing metabolic syndrome - a group of factors that increases your risk for developing heart problems and other health diseases. According to a study published by Diabetes - the official journal of the American Diabetes Association, most people spend too many hours sitting and neglecting the evidence that point to sedentary behavior as the main culprit for metabolic problems - such as metabolic syndrome. There are too many hours not properly spent for non-exercise physical activities and too little effort used to determine the possible ways to increase one’s energy expenditure during leisure time.

Metabolic risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome include a large waistline, high bad cholesterol level, low good cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. Having abdominal obesity – the condition of having a waistline of more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men – is a great risk factor for having heart diseases. A high triglyceride level (the bad cholesterol) coupled with low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) further accelerates the development of heart problems and possible heart attack. High blood pressure increases the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels; and if your blood pressure continues to spike over time, your heart becomes damaged. 

Metabolic syndrome is becoming a common problem in the American adult population. An epidemiological study published by National Health Statistics Reports estimates that approximately 34 percent of men and women in the United States meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome. Interestingly, 40-59-year-old adults are three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to their 20-39 year-old counterparts.

Most people believe that they need to make a conscious effort to exercise, burn calories and have substantial physical activity within their lives. However, in reality, non-exercise physical activity takes more time and energy during hours spent awake.

It is common for people to spend half of their available time sitting, idling most of their skeletal muscles. With this kind of sedentary behavior, decrease in the overall metabolic rate and energy expenditure is observed. With less physical activity, an upward trend in the development of obesity and metabolic syndrome happens.

Limiting the high volume of inactivity and increasing non-exercise physical activity are keys crucial to preventing metabolic syndrome. By maintaining an active lifestyle, the dangers and complications of obesity, high bad cholesterol level, heart problems and type 2 diabetes can be eliminated.

 

References:

Diabetes; Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease; Hamilton, M.T. et al; September 2007

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What is Metabolic Syndrome?

National Health Statistics Reports; Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Adults 20 Years of Age and Over, by Sex, Age, Race and Ethnicity, and Body Mass Index: United States, 2003–2006; Bethene Ervin, R.; May 2009

 

 


Top 4 Reasons Why You May Be Suffering From Low Back Pain September 18 2015

Are you experiencing low back pain? Having a hard time getting up after sitting for too long? You are not the only one having this problem; about one-half of the Americans suffer from back pain yearly, says the American Chiropractic Association. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2013 now considers low back pain as the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is one of the most common reasons why employees miss work.

Sedentary Lifestyle:

Before you grab a book and lounge in your favorite couch, listen to this first: Sedentary lifestyle caused by prolonged sitting is the top reason why you may be having back pain. Dr. James Lord, a physician at the Department of Family Medicine, St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, reveals that most patients with low back pain who come to his clinic share the same characteristics – they all have sedentary lifestyles. To get rid of the aching, he only has one suggestion: always be in motion.

Prolonged Sitting:

Prolonged sitting triggers low back pain, says researchers of a study published by the European Spine Journal in 1999. Their explanation is quite simple: Too much sitting causes insufficient nutrition in between your intervertebral discs, the bones of your back. The result? Back pain!  When standing, the muscle groups of your back need to work to maintain control and position, says Dr. S. May, a Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom. However, when sitting, these muscle groups relax, putting all the workload to the soft tissues of your back - workload that injures your soft tissues little by little, resulting in back aches. To avoid low back pain, do periodic standing to straighten your back. Stand-desks are a solution for those with office jobs. By having a stand up desk you can spend more time standing than sitting - preventing back pain.

Poor Posture and Watching Too Much TV:

After having a hard day’s work, it is nice to slump yourself in the sofa and watch TV for a couple of hours. Watching TV can’t cause backaches; but slumping – a poor body posture- on the sofa does. Dr. S. May says that 87% of Australians watch TV for more than 3 hours and almost all of them experience back pain, according to a study published by the Medical Journal of Australia. The next time you watch TV, why not move around and stretch occasionally to prevent yourself from getting back strain?

There are so many people suffering from low back pain; but this does not mean you have to be included in the statistics too. Preventing back pain is simple. Stand up. Don’t sit for too long. Adapt a good body posture. Have an active lifestyle. 

References:

American Chiropractic Association: Back Pain Facts and Statistics

Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2013

European Spine Journal; Sitting & Low Back Pain: The Positive Effect Of Rotatory Dynamic Stimuli During Prolonged Sitting; van Deursen, L.L. et al.; 1999

International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation; Posture, lumbar spine and back pain; May, S.; 2010

Journal of Family Practice; How effective are exercise and physical therapy for chronic low back pain? Carter, I. R.; March 2002

Medical Journal of Australia; Back pain: a National Health Priority Area in Australia?; Briggs, A.M. et al; 2009


Too Much Sitting: A Risk for Heart Attack? September 11 2015

Do you sit at work most of the time? Do you spend your free time surfing the net, watching TV, or reading? How much time do you dedicate for recreational physical activities?

These questions are important because too much sitting can increase a person’s risk for heart attack, says a study published by International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. In fact, the more time you spend with your chair or couch, the greater your risk for having a heart attack. Having less physical activity during off-hours and sitting for more than 10 hours daily increases your chance of developing coronary heart disease, a potentially lethal health condition caused by build-up of cholesterol deposits and inflammation within the major blood vessels of the heart.

Blood flow and oxygen supply to your heart muscles decrease when cholesterol deposits build up within your heart’s blood vessel walls.  Decreased blood flow to your heart can cause chest pain and shortness of breath. Cardiac arrest occurs when too much cholesterol blocks your artery clogs.

Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in the adult American population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 600,000 men and women die of heart disease in the United States; and another 720,000 Americans suffer from heart attack every single year.

Myocardial infarction – commonly known as a heart attack – is the irreversible damage to the heart muscles caused by lack of oxygen supply. The most common signs and symptoms of an impending heart attack include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, cold sweats, lightheadedness and discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, back or upper stomach.

Lack of regular physical activity causes 250,000 deaths in the American population every single year. In fact, sedentary lifestyle is now considered as one of the five major risk factors for the development of heart diseases according to Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

To prevent the development of heart diseases, you must have an active lifestyle. Don’t sit too much for too long when working. Move around. Spend less time watching your favorite television and Netflix shows. Have regular exercise. Thirty minutes of modest physical activity every single day is not enough; you must keep yourself active. Push it to the limit!

 

References:

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; Total sitting time and risk of myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality in a prospective cohort of Danish adults; Petersen, C.B. et al; February 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Heart Disease Facts

Circulation; Exercise and Cardiovascular Health; Myers, J.; 2003

 

 


Type 2 Diabetes and Prolonged Sitting September 04 2015

In 2012, 9.3% of Americans – that is more than 29 million – are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with another 8.1 million undiagnosed according the American Diabetes Association.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong health problem that afflicts many worldwide. Most prominently is the presence of increased blood sugar level and resistance to insulin. Insulin is a hormone – a special body chemical produced within the pancreas, an organ that lies just behind the stomach. Insulin helps move the sugar present within the blood into the cells of the body. The cells may burn sugar to produce energy or store the sugar for later consumption. When you have type 2 diabetes, cells within your body have a limited ability to respond to insulin. As a result, inefficient sugar absorption within the cells occurs, leading to increased sugar level within your bloodstream.

Does Too Much Sitting Cause Diabetes?

Too much sitting – a manifestation of sedentary behavior – has negative effects on the body’s way of handling its energy consumption, says researchers of a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine published in 2009, making it one of the strongest predictors of type 2 diabetes. Prolonged sitting (during long travels, at work, at home and even during leisure) makes your body’s energy expenditure dip so low that it makes you gain weight at an alarmingly fast rate. With sedentary behavior, your risk for high blood sugar level increases, even when maintaining a good diet.

Is 30 minutes of exercise enough?

Many people believe that having regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day is enough to keep a person from developing chronic diseases such as diabetes. However, as pointed out by Professor Nevil Owen of the Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, the length of time people spend sitting during their non-exercise waking hours is directly proportional to their risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

How to prevent having diabetes:

To decrease your risk for diabetes mellitus II, it is best not to sit for too long even when you are travelling, working, enjoying your time off or taking your coffee break. 30 minutes of intense physical activity is simply not enough. Don’t just sit there. Stand. Walk around. Stretch a bit. Do something that involves some light physical activity even when you are not doing your exercise at all. Remember: You can never beat diabetes while sitting. Stand up to diabetes, starting today! 

Reference:

American Diabetes Association: Statistics About Diabetes

British Journal of Sports Medicine; Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk?; Owen, N.  et al; 2009

 

 


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