As cultures become more and more inactive, the modern diseases and ailments associated with sedentary lifestyles become more pertinent. Sitting on chairs which do not support the natural contours of the human body significantly impair mobility, leading to musculoskeletal pain and tension. In the office, this can translate to reductions in productivity, as well as work enjoyability.
As an antidote to the issues caused by traditional office chairs, various models of ergonomic seating have been designed. Models such as the kneeling ergonomic chair, are popular in modern offices; this chair has no back, and, because of its design, it necessitates a kneeling position which takes stress out of the lower back and leg area. The kneeling ergonomic chair reduces the pain and discomfort associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time, which, of course, helps make the work environment more physically comfortable.
Perhaps a better option for office chairs, however, is the saddle ergonomic chair; as its name suggests, this chair resembles a horse riding saddle – sitting, therefore, becomes a position halfway between a full seat and standing. Unlike the kneeling ergonomic chair, the saddle chair actually strengthens the body since some effort is required to sit in this way.
Further, the hips open up whilst in this position which is particularly relevant since low hip mobility is a common condition associated with degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Sitting either in a kneeling position or on a saddle may have the benefits of aligning the body correctly, however, the extent to which these sitting positions are sustainable – in terms of comfort over long periods of time – is debatable.
The best option for seating, therefore, appears to be more typical forms of the ergonomic office chair; these may look more like conventional office seating, however, they have key features which set them miles apart. Firstly, they are fully customisable – they are adjustable and can fit unique body sizes and proportions properly; this alone can mitigate many issues with traditional office seating since the body is not straining to sit comfortably.
Secondly, materials such as mesh – as opposed to harder surfaces – reduce strain on the spine, again, helping with body alignment and good posture. In sum, ergonomic office chairs are potent tools which, if used properly, can reduce some of the health risks associated with traditional office chairs.
Sitting down for extended periods of time, however, is linked with higher rates of mortality; even those who are particularly active in their leisure time have higher rates of inflammation, disease and even death if most of their day is spent seated. Perhaps we should spend less time sitting down and more time thinking on our feet! Standing up is conducive to an array of health benefits: blood pressure is lowered; blood insulin decreases; fasting triglycerides are reduced; and caloric expenditure slightly increases.
Recent evidence even suggests that standing can improve cognition through superior regional cerebral blood flow as a consequence of increased caloric expenditure. The aforementioned health benefits are favourable for overall health and lower mortality and thus should be considered when planning office spaces.
An adjustable standing desk, which, of course, comes with the numerous health benefits of standing, are a tangible antidote to the consequences of modernity and its concomitant sedentism. With no apparent drawbacks to work productivity, standing desks may be the best solution to the health issues of sedentary lifestyles.
Some people may find standing desks expensive and may decide to build their own standing desk. That is a good idea if you lack the budget. However, make sure you get a good standing desk frame to support the desk.The “biggest public health problem of the 21st century” is physical inactivity. Standing desks may offer health benefits, however, they still promote a sedentary work approach; treadmill desks, on the other hand, offer the added benefit of exercise. Moderate exercise, completed consistently, can add 1-2 extra years of life independent of any other lifestyle changes . If companies want to get the most out of their staff, they must provide them with sufficient facilities which promote health, happiness and longevity, whilst ergonomic chairs mitigate some of the issues with sitting, the standing desk, particularly the treadmill desk, is far superior.