Archive for August, 2009

By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Sitting all day is tough on your back, neck and stress level. We hear news everyday about the benefits of exercise on our hearts, our waistlines and our mental processes. But many Americans have jobs that require us to sit long hours at computers or working at desks. If we can find time after work, some of us can squeeze in an hour or so working out at the gym a few days a week. But finding gym time is always not doable with busy schedules, long commutes and family obligations. What’s a stressed out office worker to do? Call Steelcase and order a new Walkstation treadmill so you can walk AND work…without leaving your office! Read more from this article by Shandra Martinez in The Seattle Times:

Burn while you earn: Desk treadmill keeps you walking at work

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Too busy working to work out?

Now you can burn calories while earning a paycheck with Steelcase’s new Walkstation, which merges a workstation with a treadmill.

Dr. James Levine on his Walkstation
The Walkstation.

The concept is based on the research of Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who has spent the past 15 years studying energy expended during daily activity.

“What we have done is taken science from the lab to a product that could potentially help millions and millions of people,” said Levine.

“I think it’s the next iPod. Everybody is going to want one.”

Designed to run at a maximum of 3.5 mph, the commercial-grade treadmill has a quiet motor and belt, Klipa said.

But don’t expect this workplace treadmill to make you break a sweat or provide a gym-style workout.

Yet even a slow stroll can improve a person’s health, said Steve Glass, professor of movement science and director of Grand Valley State University’s Human Performance Lab.

“How hard you work to burn calories isn’t as important as burning those calories, from the standpoint of long-term health,” said Glass, who is familiar with Levine’s work.

Levine’s research on Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) concludes that a sedentary lifestyle is not natural. The key to fighting obesity and many other health problems is to keep people from spending their days deskbound.

“Over the last 150 years, we’ve become chair-imprisoned. We are behind a screen all day at work. We are in a car or bus getting to and from work. And in the evening, we are in a chair watching television or surfing the Internet,” Levine said. “We’ve gone from being on our legs all day to being on our bottoms all day.”

Steelcase's Walkstation

Levine does most of his research on his Walkstation. Sometimes, that can be as much as 90 hours a week. The 43-year-old’s longest stretch without stopping is 20 hours. The habit of walking a mile an hour while he works has made him sharper and reduced his need for sleep. “I’ve become incredibly focused on completing things,” said Levine, who has banned chairs from his office.

There are more benefits to the Workstation than losing weight. “People want to escape from work because it is stressful,” Levine said. “One of the key benefits to this approach to working is that it is de-stressing and depression prevention.”

Link to Shandra Martinez’s November 14, 2007 article in The Seattle Times, “Burn While You Earn”

Dr. Levin’s study of volunteers at SALO, LLC, a Minneapolis-based financial staffing firm, using the actual Walkstation showed that “Individuals lost an average of 8.8 pounds — 90 percent of that was fat. Triglycerides decreased by an average of 37 percent. no productivity was lost due to the new environment.”

The Walkstation retails for about $4500 and is available in a variety of colors and table sizes. For more information on Steelcase’s Walkstation, go to Steelcase’s website for the WalkStation

For more information on a six-month study from (late 2007 to early 2008) of a real-life office at SALO, LLC, a Minneapolis-based financial staffing firm, that was re-engineered to increase daily physical activity or NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) click here.

In addition to his research efforts at SALO, Dr. Levine and his colleagues in the NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis) lab at Mayo Clinic have pioneered an “Office of the Future” — an office complete with treadmills that serve as both desks and computer platforms and a two-lane walking track that serves as a meeting room.

They created a Squidoo lens that focuses on real world implementations of the work of the NEAT Lab. Dr. Levine, along with Dr. Joseph Stirt (a doctor and a NEAT practitioner, having installed a treadmill computer desk in his home office) and Lensmaster Tom Niccum (with a treadmill computer desk–affectionately called “iPLod”–in his company office) hope to create a community of NEAT practitioners to spread the idea of “walking while working,” discuss the practicalities of setting up one’s workspace, and explore new ways to implement NEAT ideas through their Squidoo lens, Walking While Working.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

The American Heart Association is now encouraging that Americans end their love affair with sugar. The AHA guidelines recommend that women eat no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and men eat no more than ten teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s a 70 percent reduction in sugar consumption for the average American.

According to an article from by by LAUREN COX and COURTNEY HUTCHISON from the ABC News Medical Unit, “Experts Debate the Value of the American Heart Association’s Call to Cut Our Sugar Intake.”

“We know that soft drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. We really want Americans to start thinking about this,” said Dr. Rachel K. Johnson, lead author of the study.

“The high intake of added sugar has been implicated in a number of negative health outcomes, but primarily this targets obesity,” said Johnson. “Sugars have been implicated in high blood pressure and inflammation which are risk factors for heart disease.”

“Strictly from a health standpoint, sugar is a ‘triple threat’ – it provides extra calories, no nutrients, and it may displace other foods and nutrients in the diet that are more beneficial,” said Dr. Donald D. Hensrud, an associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic.

Johnson, the lead author of the study, hopes her recommendations translate into some good advice, even if the public isn’t counting grams of sugar every day.
“We’re not saying eliminate added sugar, we’re saying use them with discretion,” said Johnson.

“Try to use the added sugars with foods that will enhance the diet, for instance a sugared whole grain breakfast cereal or a sugar sweetened dairy product … they’re improving the flavor of the food in a healthy diet as opposed to [spending it on] things that don’t carry any other nutritional value, like soda or candy bars,” she said.

For the complete ABC News article click here

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

During your busy day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or “stressed out.” Try this quick stress buster exercise to help calm down your nervous system and get some fresh oxygen to your brain!

1. Find a quiet area. If you are at work, this may be a stairwell, an empty conference room, your car, or even a stall in the bathroom! Just find a place you won’t be interrupted.

2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

3. For 60 seconds, scan your body and notice any areas of tension or pain. Notice what you are feeling emotionally without judging yourself. Are you feeling anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated?

4. For the next 60 seconds, breathe in and out deeply from your nose (versus your mouth). As you breathe, pay attention to your breath, feeling the air as it enters your nose, travels into your lungs and then leaves your body as you exhale. Notice the way your chest and abdomen rise and fall with each breath.

5. Then for 60 seconds, do a new body scan, noting the feelings in your body and emotions. How do you feel now? Is there any change in the tense areas of your body? What differences do you notice in your emotional state?

This is a great, simple and super inexpensive (aka free) stress buster tool that you can take with you anywhere you go, at home, at work or even at the airport!

Try it out and let us know what you experience.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Ergotron is a workstation and monitor company that sells adjustable computer workstations and monitor mounts. We found this entertaining video on Ergotron’s website. The “CubeLife 2.0: The Uprising” video pairs a workplace workout with their adjustable workstation which retails for about $900. After watching the video, you may regret spending $1225 on that unpadded Aeron chair instead of a user-friendly adjustable workstation from Ergotron!

If the video does not automatically display, go to this you tube video:
CubeLife 2.0:The Uprising

For more info on the Ergotron product line, go to their website  here.

If you already have an Ergotron adjustable workstation, let us know what you like (or don’t like) about it. We’d love to share your experience with our other loyal readers!

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As part of our efforts to help build healthier workplaces, we’ve decided to “make over”  10 local Chicago office workers’ workstations. We have the aid of an ergonomics expert, a licensed massage therapist and personal trainer, and a compact video camera to capture our efforts on video for your viewing pleasure!  We may be coming to your office soon.

How It Works: Be one of the first 10 people to email us (at info@workingwellmassage.com) and request we “makeover” your workstation. Describe your  problem or questions in detail. For example, let us know if you have chronic pain between the shoulder blades, or sore neck muscles,  that you think is caused by your work station or how you sit.

What We Do: We will set up an appointment to come to your office, video camera and expert advice on hand, to evaluate your work space and any chronic tension patterns in your body.

How We Handle It: We’ll give your some tips on how to better situate your work tools (keyboard, monitor, chair, document stands, etc.), some product suggestions for making your workspace more comfortable, as well as show you some stretches and how to best sit and work. We video our interview with you, including your “before” and “after” workspace, to share the results with our other loyal blog readers.

What You Get: Expert advice to help you work more comfortably, reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries. Also you get your amazingly cool self  in a video and on our blog!

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Does exercise makes you fatter?  According to an article in Time Magazine ‘s August 9th,  2009 issue, “Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin,” vigorous exercise can make you unable to lose weight. The article states that people only have so much willpower. Once they use that limited self control to work out, they don’t have any more mental strength to resist over eating. It also states that vigorous exercise makes you ravenous and you end up eating much more if you exercise than if you do not.

Well, that’s just silly.  Think about it. If vigorous exercise made you fat, Michael Phelps would be a Sumo wrestler.  It is true that high caloric expenditure requires high caloric intake.  An Olympic athlete that burns 12000 calories a day in training would need to eat at 12000 calories just to maintain his current weight. People that work out for hours at a time–competitive body builders, gymnasts, swimmers and marathon runners–do expend a lot of calories. And they do need to eat to replace the calories they burn in exercise. But ask a marathon runner if he or she is ravenously hungry after a run. Many of them will tell you they actually lose their appetite immediately following an intense workout. Body builders eat frequent meals throughout the day to keep protean available to give their muscles building blocks to grow larger and stronger.

It’s only been relatively recently that human beings lead such sedentary lifestyles. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, most people had very physically active lives. Daily caloric intake was larger due to the extra caloric expenditure. In other words, if you spent your day tilling the fields, or washing clothes and dishes by hand, hand washing floors and making bread from scratch, you had a higher caloric needs than someone from 2009 that sits at work all day, drives home, microwaves a meal and sits in front of the television.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a leading authority in sports medicine and exercise science:

• Physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in weight maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes. In fact, participation in an exercise program has proven to be the very best predictor of maintaining weight that was lost.

• Effective weight loss and maintenance depend on a simple equation called energy balance: Calories expended through physical activity and normal lifestyle functions must exceed calories consumed.

• It is a myth that exercise can actually prevent weight loss by leading exercisers to overeat. Research and common sense disprove this notion. Look around the gym or the jogging trail. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest?

• Physical activity needn’t involve expensive equipment, gym memberships or team athletics. Simple activities like walking, accumulated in 10-minute bouts, can have significant benefits.

John Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM states that” “Again, it is clear in this regard that physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in enhancing weight loss maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes.”

Jakicic’s research on obesity, published in 2008, showed that a long duration of physical activity (275 minutes above baseline levels) led to the largest observed weight loss after a 24-month intervention.

Sorry for the letdown, folks, but exercise does help you lose fat and maintain the weight loss. And  it can be fun!


Time Magazine Article link

ASCM Article link

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Working Well Resources is a blog dedicated to providing information and commentary on wellness resources. We strive to help teach people how to move, work, exercise, eat and play  from a wellness perspective. We believe that if your body works well, YOU will work and live more effectively, with less pain and less limitations on your mobility.

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