There’s still a large debate in the workforce about sitting down vs. standing up at work. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, you can greatly reduce the risk of disease and injury by a common discipline called ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the principle of designing an environment or posture to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. It’s basically ways of positioning yourself and your surroundings to be as comfortable and less strenuous as possible.
You don’t have to have an office job at a desk to better fit yourself to your surroundings. From a corporate office to a shipping warehouse, there are several ways you can practice ergonomics in the workplace to keep yourself safe and comfortable.
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics program at Cornell University, standing for long periods of time dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis, a condition where the artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials like cholesterol. That’s why it is important to take frequent breaks to sit. When standing, make sure you are shifting your weight periodically, dropping your shoulders down and back, and pulling your head straight up like someone is pulling it up with a string. You should also be aware of proper footrests, floor mats, and shoes to help relieve tension, increase blood flow, increase your energy, decrease anxiety, and make you feel better.
For those who sit at a desk while working, it’s important to lose the ridged 90 degree posture. Sitting at a slight slouch is often more comfortable and better for your back. Your chair should be low enough that your feet are touching the ground and the desk and keyboard should be where your wrists are straight. Any computer monitors, TV screens, or other electronic displays should be at least 24 inches from your face, but the farther the better.
You may not think about it, but lighting can have a large impact on your productivity and health. Bad lighting conditions can strain your eyes and cause head, back, and neck aches. Consider using portable or adjustable desk lamps to help direct the light where it’s most needed. This way you have enough light to read documents and avoid excessive room lights that can glare on computer screens.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, movement is vital to maintaining health. Sustaining any fixed, rigid posture for an extended period of time is one of the worst things you could do. Frequently change positions or shift weight along with taking full advantage of your scheduled break time to walk around or sit. Experts say that a quick 30 second pause every 10 minutes can be very effective if your break schedule is irregular.
The choices you make today can have a serious impact on your future. Don’t take the energy of your youth for granted by living a sedentary or overly strenuous lifestyle. What are your favorite ways to mobilize yourself at work?