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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Corporate clients ask us how to help their employees incorporate more movement at work. It’s a tricky issue as most office work is done on a computer which requires the user to sit or stand in front of it for hours. Doing any repetitive movement for hours can lead to pain and muscle soreness. The key is to move frequently in different positions. Simply standing up periodically, stretching, going to the restroom or walking around the office lets your muscles take a break from the repetitive movements and stiffness of prolonged sitting.

Photo by Steelcase

Photo by Steelcase

Desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing are helpful. Steelcase has a few options as well as many other vendors.

Here are some other tips on adding more movement into your work day.  Woman’s Health has this article, Easy Ways to Move More At Work.

For the science-minded, here is a promising pilot study from The Journal of Environmental and Public Health about helping employees remember to move more at work. A Pilot Study of Increasing Nonpurposeful Movement Breaks at Work as a Means of Reducing Prolonged Sitting. The study shows that passive prompts tend to be most encouraging to help people remember to move frequently throughout the day. The passive prompts were computer based  timed prompt that reminded staff s get up and perform some kind of “nonpurposeful movement.”  In the study, the software program used gave staff   a choice of 60 office-appropriate activities (i.e., walking, taking the stairs, and retrieving the photocopies). to complete. Employees were able to select the active, and choose the duration and intensity of each activity or nonpurposeful movement.    To read the full study, click here.

Even the government has gotten on the movement bandwagon and created a program to help federal employees move more at work. Click here for info about the Veteran’s Health Administrations Success With Increasing Movement at Work.

If all else falls, employers can provide push scooters for their staff. If the halls are long enough, people can push their way around the office! Roller skates and Roller blades in the office may be going too far though. Unless your office is the Fantasy Factory  at Dyrdek Enterprises.

 

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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.
DEBRA L. ROTHENBERG / FEATURE PHOTO SERVICE

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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