Many well-meaning, and seemingly sensible solutions are difficult, if not impossible to sustain over the long haul. Nowhere is this more relevant than with the issue of overcoming our sedentary lifestyle, particularly in our office environment. As we become acutely aware of our need to take this issue seriously, our tendency may be to seek “solutions” that allow us to feel like we’ve addressed the issue. We need to think past the obvious. Unsustainable recommendations can hamper our personal well-being.
Examples of Unsustainable Recommendations:
- Sit on an Exercise Ball
- Add a Sit Stand Riser to Your Desk
- Get Rid of the Chair
- Use a Treadmill
- Get a Crank Sit-Stand Desk
- Sit on an Exercise Ball: An Exercise Ball will strengthen your core muscles and help you to move while at your desk.
REALLY!?! An Exercise Ball is an EXERCISE BALL!!! Core muscles are strengthened because they are constantly involved in stabilizing your body due to the inherent instability of the exercise ball. In addition, there is no support to your arms (arm rests) and the lower back (lumbar support). Over an extended period, this can cause fatigue resulting in poor posture. Thighs are not evenly supported and knees are often bent to less than 90° contributing to restricted circulation and stress to the lower legs.
- Add a Sit Stand Riser to your desk:Let's just put a Sit Stand Riser on top of our existing desk.
Although Desktop Risers allow you to sit and stand, there are serious issues to consider with both postures when using a Riser. In most cases the desk you are presently sitting at is already too high for you. The tops of most desks are about 29" off the floor, which is perfect for someone who is about 6'-0" to 6'-1" tall. If, while working on your computer, you are using a keyboard that sits on your desk surface, you are most likely be experiencing neck, shoulder and lower back discomfort. This is because of the tendency to tense your neck & shoulder muscles and scrunch up your shoulders to compensate for the keyboard being too high.
Most Desk Top Risers compound the problem by placing the keyboard tray (that is part of the Riser) on top of the (already too high) desk. This ignores the need for a comfortable keying posture while sitting – and sitting is what you are doing at least 50% of the time.
Some Risers have a keyboard tray that drops below the desk surface. This solves the discomfort issue of having the keyboard too high. But not so fast – by having the keyboard tray below the desk surface, it is out in front of the desk. You are now forced to back away from your desk surface, leaving much of it (and the reference material, coffee & equipment that is on it) inaccessible without twisting and reaching. Ergonomists will tell you that twisting and reaching while at your work station is something to be avoided. (Many are disenchanted with height adjustable keyboard trays because of this issue.) Additionally, by moving your chair back by approximately 12”, you have used up valuable allocated space behind you. This may or may not be an important consideration. However, in many instances, it is important and seldom thought of until too late.
When you lift your Riser to a standing position, you are, in essence, leaving your work surface behind/below. Similar to the keyboard in front of the desk scenario mentioned earlier, Reference material, etc. are left out of easy reach and away from easy viewing.
Desktop Risers can seem like an easy and least disruptive solution. In reality, Risers command a lot of dedicated real estate on your desk surface and are not an ergonomic solution for either sitting or standing.
- Get rid of the chair: Instead of sitting let’s all stand. Let's get a standing desk. With a little practise, we could be standing all day.
Standing for extended periods is as bad as sitting for extended periods. We need to understand that "sitting" is not the problem. "Standing" is also not the problem. "Extended periods" is the problem. All too often our tendency is to jump from one extreme to another. In this case, to counter "all day sitting", we too quickly can embrace "all day standing".
- Use a Treadmill: Once you get used to it, you will have a higher energy level and you’ll enjoy that good-tired feeling you get knowing you are burning calories while you’re working.
Treadmills take up considerable space and are not easily moved out of the way so the balance between standing/walking and sitting can be achieved. The constant sound of the motor (continuous power consumption) and the thump-thump of walking on the belt can be distracting. Writing and moussing accuracy are often difficult. Walking over ground allows you to push away from a stable force, whereas a treadmill does not.
"Treadmills are not the same as walking over ground…The natural way of walking doesn't work on a treadmill belt. The lateral hip and glute muscles aren't used, so you need to use hip flexors instead. It may look the same, but the muscles used to do it have been changed." Katy Bowman, a biomechanics scientist and kinesiologist at the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, Calif
- Get a Crank Sit-Stand Desk: Crank Sit-Stand Desks allow you to raise and lower your workstation, they don’t consume electricity and they’re cheaper than electric desks.
A height adjustable desk is, without question, a sustainable solution. It makes it easy for you to move from a sitting to a standing posture while keeping your whole desk surface available. Easy is the key word. To be sustainable, it must also be easy to accomplish. At approximately 7 crank rotations per inch, can you imagine how many rotations it would take to raise the desk from a sitting to a standing position? Let’s do the math – from sitting at 27” desk height (it can be lowered to comfortable keying height) to standing at 43” desk height (recommended for a person 5’-10” tall with shoes on) equals 16” range of travel. At 7 rotations per inch that’s 7 x 16 = 112 rotations! Crank Sit-Stand Desks are NOT designed to promote frequent adjustments throughout the work period. If you are still determined to go the cheaper route, updowndesks.com sells a Crank Sit Stand desk that is upgradable, in future, to electric.
One of the advantages of many height adjustable desks is their ability to be lowered to your individual correct height in addition to their ability to be raised to a standing height. To find out what height is best for you, click on www.updowndesks.com/pages/ergonomic-assessment-chart and enter your height including the shoes you normally wear.
A sustainable solution: North American made, BIFMA approved Electric Sit Stand Desks.
Ships throughout the USA from Michigan. Ships throughout Canada from Ontario.