Table of Content
Sitting has been described as the new smoking and many people consider it to be more harmful to our bodies.1 Excessive sitting is associated with obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.2 Sitting is a part of so many aspects of modern life. We sit at work, on the commute, in front of the TV. Even shopping can be done from the comfort of your chair or sofa. Poor diet and lack of exercise exacerbate the problem, the impact of which can go beyond physical health—anxiety, stress, and depression have been shown to increase from excessive sitting.
‘Active workstation’ is a term used to describe a desk that allows you to switch from the sitting position whenever you feel it necessary. Standing desks, desk converters, or treadmill desks are considered the best for ergonomics and productivity. Less ergonomically sound solutions include desk cycles, bike desks, and various DIY arrangements. The former have surged in popularity in recent years because they provide office workers with a reliable and sustainable solution for sitting disease by significantly cutting down the number of hours spent in a chair.
Research shows that active workstations have a positive impact on obesity, back pain, blood circulation, mental outlook, and productivity.3 Observational studies and surveys suggests that an active workstation can increase physical activity, improve health markers such as weight, blood glucose, and cortisol levels, increase engagement, boost productivity, and contribute to worker happiness. The British Journal of Sports medicine guidelines recommend standing for 2-4 hours during the workday to reap the benefits from active workstations.4
Solution to Obesity
Obesity is the top public health concern worldwide. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, obesity-related illnesses cost hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses each year in the United States alone.5 And while public health obesity programs are numerous, adopting active workstations in corporate offices might be the most effective solution simply because they can be used easily every day.
Studies show that treadmill desks can be instrumental in obesity intervention because they increase daily energy expenditure.6 Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels in pre-diabetic individuals and improve other health markers like blood pressure and cholesterol.
An additional 100 calories expended per hour may result in weight loss of 44 to 66 lbs per year, provided that the energy balance is constant (this means you must consume less calories than you burn). Studies found that it only requires spending 2 to 3 hours a day walking on a treadmill at a speed of just 1.1 mph. This is a significant impact for overweight and obese workers. 7
Reduced Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Half of all American workers admit to experiencing back pain each year while statistics show that 80% of the population will suffer a back issue at some point in their life. 8
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, sitting for hours with bad posture can exacerbate low back pain because it impedes the blood flow and puts additional stress on the lumbar spine.9 With a standing desk, you can limit sitting time, stretch and limber up to promote blood circulation all while performing tasks such as answering a call, as well as improve your posture.
Standing and walking can also improve muscle balance by strengthening the muscles and ligaments in your lower body and increase bone density, resulting in strong and healthy bones.
Improved Blood Circulation
Blood circulation plays an important role in keeping body cells and vital organs healthy. As the heart pumps the blood through the circulatory system, it travels all across your body, removing waste and bringing oxygen and nutrients to every organ. Physical activity promotes and improves blood circulation which, in turn, helps the body maintain blood pressure and pH levels and stabilize body core temperature.
In practical terms, if you stand or better yet move you may experience increased alertness, stable blood pressure, and warmth in your hands and feet (cold extremities can be a sign of poor circulation).10 Note that poor blood circulation may also be a symptom of a serious disease such as diabetes or Raynaud's disease.
Positive Mental Outlook
Physical activity has been proven to have a positive effect not only on the body but also on the mind. Researchers found that workers who experience low focus, restlessness, and boredom at work report an increase in alertness, concentration, and general productivity when given a possibility to stand. 11
Surveys show that more than half of office workers dislike or even hate sitting all day. And although almost a third resort to web and social media surfing, more than half of surveyed workers prefer active breaks such as going to the bathroom, getting a drink or food, or talking to a colleague. 12
Sitting has also been found to increase anxiety and stress. One study even found a link between low physical activity and depression.13 Poor posture can contribute to an observed state called “screen apnea”. Also known as shallow breathing, screen apnea sends your body into a constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, which can exacerbate anxiety and stress. Furthermore, good posture has been shown to alleviate mild to moderate depression, increase energy levels, reduce fear while performing a stressful task, and improve mood and self-esteem. 14
Exercise and increased overall physical activity are included in the most recognized health and wellness guidelines for a reason. They’ve been shown to reduce absenteeism, improve wellbeing, and help manage stress.15 Physical inactivity can cause your blood pressure to rise, which can damage your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys as well as develop into chronic hypertension.
Scientific research supports the use of an active workstation. Standing workers report increased energy and satisfaction, improved mood, focus, and productivity. One study found that walking at a treadmill desk has a beneficial delayed effect on memory and attention. The subjects’ attentiveness and memory have been shown to improve slightly after walking on a treadmill.16
Increased Life Expectancy
It’s well established that increased physical activity reduces the risk of developing chronic illnesses related to obesity like Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. It’s also been proven that staying active reduces the chance of heart attack, stroke, osteoporosis, and arthritis.17
A number of studies suggest that there is a correlation between decreased sedentary time and increased life expectancy. In one study, the subjects whose sitting time was reduced to less than 3 hours a day lived two years longer than their sitting counterparts.18
In addition, wellness research has proven that active workstations reduce the number of sick days among office workers, which also means that staying active at work may keep your overall healthcare costs down.19,20, 21
Standing Desk Benefits
A standing or adjustable height desk offers a lot of benefits, including:
- no loss in productivity or typing accuracy
- heart rate increase by an average of 8 beats a minute
- increased energy expenditure (16.7% over sitting) 22
- low back pain relief
- improved posture
Treadmill Desk Benefits
A treadmill desk offers more health benefits still. Unlike standing desks, walking workstations encourage constant movement, which has a significant effect on both weight and cognitive functions.
- average heart rate increase over 12 beats per minute
- increased energy expenditure (210.5% at 2 mph speed over sitting)
- healthy weight management
- reduced fatigue in legs, feet, and back
- improved circulation
- blood pooling and fluid retention relief
- better brain oxygenation
- enhanced mood and attention
- increased creativity and productivity
Sit-Stand-Walk Workstation Benefits
When it comes to health benefits, a sit-stand-walk desk is the most optimal active workstation because it combines the benefits of both standing and treadmill desks. Add an active chair and you’ll be able to:
- increase energy expenditure by around 20%
- relieve low back pain with adequate lumbar support
- correct your posture
Such a 3-in-1 solution may not require much room, as you can stand on your treadmill when you want to take a rest from walking as long as you choose the right anti-fatigue mat to fit the tread top.
Standing Mat Benefits
Anti-fatigue or standing mats are made to displace and suspend your weight to promote micro body movements. These improve blood circulation, which eases the tension in your limbs and back. Other standing mat health benefits include:
- minimizing spinal compression (¾ thick polyurethane mat reduces compression by 40%) 23
- reducing aches and pains from prolonged standing
- relieving fatigue
- taking pressure off of joints
- alleviating stress in feet and ankles
Browse all iMovR products to create your ultimate active workstation.
What is Sitting Disease?
While chairs aren’t inherently harmful, as a society we sit too much. In fact, the scientific community coined the term ‘sitting disease’ to describe the host of health problems associated with sedentary lifestyle. Obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, increased risk of depression, and even premature death have all been linked to excessive sitting. The good news is that it’s easy to prevent sitting disease by simply moving more throughout the day.
Low back pain, overweight, reduced focus, and ‘computer hunch’ are the most common symptoms of the sitting disease. The more serious ones like blurred vision and fatigue stem from underlying conditions such as diabetes or depression, which can be exacerbated by prolonged sitting but aren’t necessarily caused by it. 14
Health Effects of Sedentariness
Sitting all day has been shown to contribute to musculoskeletal disorders, muscle degeneration, and osteoporosis. Our modern sedentary lifestyle allows for little movement, which, coupled with a poor diet, can lead to obesity. Overweight and obesity, in turn, can bring a host of other health problems like metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and pre-diabetes (high blood glucose). Recent research also linked excessive sitting with increased stress, anxiety, and risk of depression.
Sedentariness has been proven to be the key contributing factor to obesity. More than 2 in 3 adults and around one-third of children and adolescents aged between 6 and 19 are considered to be obese or overweight. With sedentary jobs and lifestyle in general, even regular exercise may not be enough to create a healthy energy balance (calories consumed versus calories burned). 15
Metabolic Syndrome and Increased Risk of Stroke
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of serious conditions like increased blood pressure, pre-diabetes (high blood glucose), elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. Generally associated with obesity, it may lead to more serious diseases like coronary heart disease or stroke.
Neither obesity nor lack of physical activity cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension, but both are associated with these chronic diseases. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death worldwide while heart disease went from being No. 3 cause of death in the U.S. to No. 5. 16
Muscle Degeneration and Osteoporosis
The process of muscle degeneration is, however, a direct result of lack of physical activity. Although it naturally occurs with age, as well. Muscles that normally contract and stretch during exercise or simple movement like walking tend to shrink when not used or trained regularly, which may lead to muscle weakness, tightening, and imbalance. Bones are also affected by inactivity. Low bone density caused by inactivity can, in fact, lead to osteoporosis—porous bone disease that increases the risk of fractures.
Musculoskeletal Disorders and Poor Posture
While obesity and associated risks of diabetes, CVD, and stroke result from a combination of poor diet and inactivity, prolonged sitting can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)—the disorders of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves—such as tension neck syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome. 17
Most common causes of MSDs are repetitive strain injuries and poor posture. The repetitive strain may come as a result of an ergonomically poor workstation while poor posture puts additional pressure on the spine, neck, and shoulders, causing stiffness and pain. Lack of movement is another contributor to musculoskeletal pain because it reduces the blood flow to tissues and spinal discs. The latter tend to harden and also cannot heal without an adequate blood supply.
Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Low physical activity does not only affect your physical health. Sitting and poor posture have both been linked to increased anxiety, stress, and risk of depression while numerous studies show that exercise can help improve your mood as well as manage your stress levels.
How to Prevent and Fight Sitting Disease?
An average office worker sits between 10 to 15 hours a day. You may find that you spend most of your waking hours sitting if you account for your commute time, work hours, and leisure.
Excessive sitting is not the only culprit behind chronic disease, though. Lifestyle factors like poor diet, increased stress, smoking, low levels of fitness and exercise can also contribute to the development of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Preventive solutions for sitting disease may not be straightforward once you count all the time you spend sitting. A lot of us ride the bus or drive to work, sit all day behind a desk at the office, ride to lunch, and then back home. This time can accumulate up to 10 hours of sitting, but it’s not all there is to it. Considering sedentary pastime like watching TV, playing video games, even going out, it may be even more than that.
The only place where you’re seemingly moving is a gym. But that is only true if you aren’t using exercise machines, most of which require you to sit. Free weights and treadmills are better for exercising and moving. There are, however, other actions that you could take against developing chronic diseases and back pain:
- increase your overall physical activity (NEAT) 18
- get an active workstation (standing or treadmill desk or a desktop converter)
- stand up during moderate or vigorous exercise
- eat a healthy diet
Increased daily physical activity has been found to reduce the health risks associated with sitting. It is a key factor in cosmetic and preventive weight loss and offers such positive health effects as improved blood circulation, reduced stress, and increased productivity.
The endocrinologist, researcher, and treadmill desk inventor Dr. James A. Levine of the Mayo Clinic calls the energy expended through all non-exercise activities like walking, standing, fidgeting, and cooking ‘Non–Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’ (NEAT). NEAT can vary from individual to individual and reach up to 2,000 calories a day, meaning that you can significantly raise your daily energy expenditure by simply cutting sitting time and moving more in addition to your exercise routine.
To increase your daily activity, you could park further from the office, take calls and hold meetings standing or walking as well as skip the elevator, but you would still be sedentary for the most part of your workday, commute, dinner, and TV past time. Active workstations like treadmill and standing desks or desk converters are designed to promote non-exercise activity throughout the day, enabling workers to stand, walk, and fidget all while reducing the number of hours spent sitting. But you can be even more successful if you bike to the office, take the stairs, and cook your own meals. Generally, the more everyday tasks you can perform without the help of technology the more energy you will expend without exercising.
Sitting isn’t inherently bad for the body when practiced properly and in moderation. An ergonomic chair that supports the low back and elbows is just as crucial for any workstation as a monitor arm that will keep your posture neutral. Adding a desk treadmill can bring additional health benefits such as increased creativity and productivity, improved mood and memory, reduced stress, and better overall physical fitness.
Importance of a Healthy Diet
It is also important to note that a healthy diet plays a significant role in limiting health risks associated with sedentariness by keeping your weight and blood sugar stable. Long periods of inactivity reduce our energy expenditure, thus requiring a smaller calorie intake. When there is an excess of energy, it’s stored in our fat deposits, elevating bad cholesterol and causing insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.
Why Use an Active Workstation
According to the expert statement released in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, office workers should aim to stand, move and take breaks for at least two out of eight hours at work. Then they should gradually work up to spending at least half of their eight-hour work day in positions that promote NEAT energy expenditure. Standing desks, converters, and treadmill desks allow users to frequently move their bodies while staying focused on work-related tasks. This is especially appealing for people who don’t have time or access to a gym on a regular basis.
The World Health Organization’s Global Recommendations on Physical Activity include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week for optimum health. While exercise may seem like an obvious solution for preventing or curbing the sitting disease, many studies suggest that exercise alone isn’t enough to mitigate the adverse health effects of sedentariness. The combination of NEAT movement and vigorous exercise is ideal. NEAT can help you increase your daily energy expenditure while moderate and vigorous intensity exercise will promote long-term health with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, increased bone strength, muscle development, and improved sleep.
A Recipe for Success
If you are looking to improve your overall health, an active workstation is a significant change that can help you ease into exercising or break through a fitness plateau. With a few minor dietary corrections, you might be able to achieve your health and fitness goals much faster. iMovR offers high-quality standing desks and treadmill desks, sit-stand converters and standing mats that have been NEAT™-certified by the Mayo Clinic. NEAT certification is awarded to products that increase energy expenditure over sitting by more than 10 percent, helping people meet their fitness and nutrition goals.
Treadmill desks are often advertised as tools of weight loss, and while they can aid in increasing your daily energy expenditure, they are certainly not meant for replacing exercise. When Dr. James A. Levine of the Mayo Clinic invented the first ever treadmill desk back in 2007, his intention was to inject natural non-exercise movement into the modern sedentary lifestyle, which leads to obesity and other chronic diseases.
Treadmill Desk and NEAT
A treadmill desk is instrumental in promoting non-exercise thermogenesis (NEAT), the energy we expend during any non-cardio movement like walking, standing, fidgeting, or even chewing gum. Dr. James A. Levine coined the term for this phenomenon and has been studied and accepted by the scientific community as the key weapon in the battle against overweight and obesity as well as a way to improve overall health.
Studies show that exercise alone does not counteract the negative effects of sitting, but for many office workers this is the only way to get active during the week. Since the majority of people spend most of their workday sitting and also tend to engage in sedentary behavior outside the office, an active workstation is an easy and effective way to promote NEAT and stay active throughout the day.
While standing burns almost 20% more calories than sitting, walking can burn hundreds of calories depending on your weight and time spent on the treadmill. In his research of non-exercise thermogenesis, Dr. Levine found that the calorie burn from NEAT can reach up to 2,000 calories a day. And while studying treadmill desk workstations, Levine found that these active workstations could lead to an annual weight loss of 20–30 kg/year.
Complete with a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, an active workstation can help you optimize your weight loss program, rendering it more effective and less demanding in terms of daily calorie reduction and exercise intensity. Aside from increasing your energy expenditure, walking brings more oxygen to the brain, reduces back stress and pain, and strengthens your muscles and bones.
Exercise Health Benefits
Even if you have an active workstation, World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of regular weekly moderate and vigorous intensity exercise for all adults between 18 and 64 years old, as it reduces the chance of:
- coronary heart disease
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
- colon and breast cancer
It also reduces the all-cause mortality rate and further increases your overall energy expenditure. Additional benefits include muscle balance, bone strength, improved respiratory health, and increase in muscle mass.
Diet Health Benefits
A healthy diet is as important for health as exercise. USDA notes that a high fiber diet can help with weight management, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve blood sugar levels, and reduce the chance of Type 2 diabetes.
The best way to approach your diet is to include more fiber-rich foods like fruit and vegetables, nuts and beans, and whole grains into your daily menu and limit processed pre-packaged foods like pizza, potato chips as well as sweets like candy bars, ice cream, and soda.
Using A Treadmill Desk In Your Weight Loss Program
A treadmill desk may not be central to your exercise routine, but it can certainly become the third pillar of your weight loss program, increasing the chance of success. In fact, we recommend using it as a springboard for your fitness routine, as it can help you build stamina for moderate and vigorous intensity exercise.
You want to start slow and gradually increase the time on the treadmill. Rushing to spend hours walking if you’re not yet exercising can be hard on the body and lead to muscle straining, which is likely to put you off exercising or walking altogether. The same principle of gradual intensity buildup applies to the exercise regimen.
To ensure success, clean your diet of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks. You'll be able to see much faster results if you supplement your activity with a balanced, healthy, fiber-rich diet, and regular moderate or vigorous intensity exercise.
Plantar fasciitis results from the overuse or repetitive strain injury of the fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. The condition usually affects athletes and workers like cashiers, clerks, and cooks who are required to stand all day. When the band becomes inflamed, overstretched, or damaged, heel pain (also known as plantar fasciitis) occurs. While the root cause of the condition is unknown, there are a few factors that can put you at risk of plantar fasciitis:
- overweight and obesity
- postural deformity (such as flat feet or high arches)
- sudden bursts of activity after prolonged sitting
If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis make sure to carefully follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment. It usually takes around two weeks to recover from acute heel pain, but your doctor may prolong the treatment if needed. Try not to leap into active lifestyle immediately, but rather build up your strength gradually. This is where an active workstation might help. Discuss these options with your podiatrist to find the best option for you.
Recommendations for Desk Users with Plantar Fasciitis
Stand to Strengthen Your Fascia
A standing desk may seem like a counterintuitive investment for someone who suffers from plantar fasciitis, but it might help you strengthen your fascia. If you tend to sit for hours at your desk every day, a sudden burst of activity (for example, exercise) here and there can put too much strain on the relaxed band tissue and cause overstretching, tearing, or inflammation. This can lead to the onset (or recurrence) of plantar fasciitis. Standing allows you to move and stretch your fascia, bridging the gap between complete inactivity and excessive movements like running or jumping.
Consider Standing Workstation Ergonomics
When shopping for a standing desk, be sure to also invest in a standing mat. A good quality ¾ thick 100% polyurethane anti-fatigue mat is an essential part of any ergonomic active workstation. It provides feet, legs, and low back with adequate support and cushioning while you stand. It also helps relieve the pressure in heels and hip and knee joints as well as reduces spinal compression by 40%.
Use Standing Solutions to Relieve Heel Pain
A standing footrest or porcupine massage balls can be useful for stretching your fascia while you stand. Since stretching is a frequently prescribed treatment method for plantar fasciitis, you are less likely to forget to practice it during the day, if you are standing on (or next to) a device that allows or promotes it.
Standing may help strengthen your fascia, but you must not overdo it, as long periods of standing might worsen the pain. Be sure to take active as well as restful breaks from your standing desk every hour or two to prevent straining your fascia.
Walk to Relieve Heel Pain
Walking is a proven method for relieving heel pain. When you walk your fascia stretches naturally, which may help relieve the plantar fasciitis symptoms and prevent the recurring heel pain. If you’re forced to spend most of your waking hours sitting at a desk, walking can be problematic. With a treadmill desk, you may not only be able to treat your heel pain but can also prevent it from coming back. In addition to strengthening your fascia, the treadmill desk will help you build up your stamina to safely engage in moderate or vigorous intensity exercise without re-injuring your fascia.
Since extra weight can put additional strain on your feet, you might want to consider weight loss. And there is no better way than increasing your daily energy expenditure than walking. Supplement it with the right diet and regular exercise and the weight loss process will become most efficient.
Comfortable footwear is an important preventive measure for plantar fasciitis. You might want to consider it even if you’re planning to use an active workstation. While your orthopedist may prescribe orthotics, you can also use comfort shoes made of pure polyurethane or gel insoles to reduce fascia stress and prevent pain from prolonged standing or walking.
iMovR is the industry-leading brand that specializes in ergonomic active workstations. Our walking and standing desks along with sit-stand converters combine quality and ergonomics without sacrificing aesthetics. Built to last, every one of our products from standing conference tables all the way down to portable standing desk mats can withstand the test of time and serve under the most strenuous of office environments.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the body, namely the pancreas, cannot produce insulin or use it to deliver glucose to cells. Diabetes affects kids and adults alike and manifests through such symptoms as:
- extreme thirst
- weight loss
- blurred vision
Type I diabetes typically affects kids and teens. Its cause is unknown, but limited evidence suggests that it might be genetic. Type II diabetes affects adults and may arise from the combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. For instance, overweight or obesity can increase the risk of diabetes as does belonging to a certain ethnic group or having a family history of the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, over 400 million people have diabetes and 240 million more are estimated to be affected by 2040. Blood-glucose related illnesses caused 3.7 million deaths in 2012, (more than breast cancer and AIDS combined) and cost over 640 billion USD in healthcare spending.
Sitting has long been associated with the increased risk of diabetes, but there is little evidence that prolonged inactivity causes the disease. It’s been proven to be a contributing factor to being overweight and obesity, however, in combination with other factors may lead to the development of the disease.
How Can Walking Help in Management of Diabetes?
As of now, there is no cure for diabetes, but the disease can be managed with medication, insulin injections, and lifestyle and diet changes. Low-impact physical activity is one of the most effective solutions for the management of Type II diabetes, as it helps control blood glucose as well as correct and maintain weight. Walking is the best type of light physical activity, mainly because it doesn't require a high level of physical fitness or a gym membership. Numerous scientific studies have shown that walking at a low or moderate speed offers a myriad of health benefits, including but not limited to:
- improved blood pressure and circulation
- stable blood sugar
- lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- reduced stress and depression
- lower risk of mental decline and Alzheimer’s
- improved sleep
- increased stamina
- better balance and coordination
Treadmill Desk Solution to Office Job Problem
Even if your lifestyle doesn't always leave spare time for exercise, you can maintain a healthy weight and stable blood sugar by simply walking every day. The natural movement of walking doesn't involve much exertion or heavy perspiration, hence it's a perfect solution for the office. Walking business meetings and post-lunch breaks are a great place to start, but if you want to be able to move whenever you want, a treadmill workstation is the most efficient way to go.
Because treadmills in iMovR's walking desks are limited to the maximum speed of 2.5 mph and are equipped with a “click wrap” liability waiver, you can safely operate your workstation without worry, all while regulating high glucose in your blood. Walking at low speeds allows you to perform normal tasks such as writing emails and answering phone calls. And if you need to perform a task that requires precision, you can simply pause your treadmill and stand or use our Tempo TreadTop Office Chair.
Identify Your Walking Routine
Once you've adjusted to your treadmill desk and identified the tasks that are best suited for it, you can create a walking routine that will ensure your blood glucose levels are within the proper range throughout the entire day.
Start your mornings with a 30-minute stroll to shave off your post-breakfast sugar spikes. Studies show that light to medium activity breaks during the day improve the body's response to meals that contain glucose by 30 percent.
Continue adding more walking time to your schedule to make sure you spend at least 3 hours moving. You can break up that time by standing or sitting on an active chair.
A midday walk may not only help increase your energy expenditure and regulate blood glucose but might also help you feel more energized for the rest of the workday, bringing more oxygen to the brain and relieving the 3 pm slump.
Varicose veins or varicoses (also known as varicosities) is a condition in which veins become enlarged and dilated. When this happens, blood overfills the veins, causing painful, throbbing or burning sensations in the legs as well as forcing the veins to bulge and protrude from the surface of the skin. This creates an unwanted cosmetic defect. Other symptoms may include heavy legs, itchy or tight skin, leg or ankle swelling, calf pain and cramps during the night.
Although varicose veins are mostly a cosmetic issue, on rare occasions they may lead to certain complications such as bleeding, blood clots, and chronic venous insufficiency, as varicoses impedes the normal blood flow.
While the exact cause of varicose veins is unknown, research shows there is a link between having a family history of varicoses and an increased chance of developing the condition. About 20% of all adults will have varicose veins at some point in their lives and certain risk factors may increase that chance. They include:
- old age
- prolonged standing or inactivity
These risk factors alone may not cause varicose veins but if you have hidden varicose veins they can make those become more prominent.
Recommendations for Standing Desk Users
Since inactivity was linked to varicose veins, adopting an adjustable height desk and a treadmill is the best way to reduce your chances of developing varicose veins, especially if you have a family history of the condition, or exacerbating it.
While standing can be better for blood circulation than sitting, research shows that prolonged periods of standing is associated with varicose veins. This is why we recommend changing your positions throughout the day every hour or so. Make sure to use a polyurethane floor mat to improve blood circulation in the legs and back and prevent blood pooling in the legs. When sitting, a foot platform can help prevent the blood from pooling. Although it’s not clear how blood circulation relates to the cause of varicose veins, improved circulation has other positive health benefits such as improved body temperature regulation, better digestion, and healthier skin.
Regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing or even alternating between the two during the day, taking active breaks allows you to minimize the impact of sedentariness. A ten-minute walk (or any type of movement) every hour or after each completed task can help prevent blood pooling and give you a much-needed pick-me-up for increased productivity.
How to Prevent and Manage Varicose Veins With a Treadmill Desk
Walking is even better for promoting blood circulation than standing. As you walk, your leg muscles expand and contract, helping the blood move from your legs back to the heart. Because walking is a low-impact activity, it can be done outside the normal exercise regimen to help relieve the symptoms of varicose veins or aid in post-varicose treatment recovery.
Take it easy. Start walking on your treadmill, aiming for just 15 minutes every day. This will help you build stamina and strengthen your muscles for longer sessions.
Drink water. Although walking is not as physically demanding as other types of exercise, it does increase your energy expenditure and promotes perspiration. Make sure your water intake is adequate by keeping a glass of water on your desk.
Walk regularly. Create a routine that allows you to walk at least half of the workday. Break up the rest of your work time by sitting on an active chair or standing atop a treadmill outfitted with a treadmill standing mat.
For many office workers, the ‘computer hunch’ is an all too familiar job side effect. As we sit through most of our waking hours, our muscles and ligaments tend to either shorten and tighten or overstretch and weaken. This leads to poor posture, which may not only cause significant discomfort and pain but also constrict blood vessels and nerves in the spine, restrict breathing, and even accelerate the degeneration of the discs and joints in the spine.
If you have a habit of slouching and hunching over your laptop or even while sitting at a traditionally ergonomic desk, you have a greater chance developing such spinal deformities as postural scoliosis (side-to-side curvature), kyphosis (curvature of the upper back greater than 50 degrees), or lordosis (excessive curvature of the lumbar spine)—increasing if you are obese.
Poor Ergonomics Poor Posture
Poor ergonomics, improper positioning, and fatigue are the main culprits behind postural problems. If you sit in a chair at a recommended 90-degree angle for the majority of your working hours, fatigue from staying in an upright position without any support might force you to hunch and slouch, putting enormous strain on your lumbar spine, neck, and shoulders. The most recent research found that reclining at 120 or 135 degrees is the best sitting position for longer periods of time. A lumbar cushion can further help support your low back and relieve strain.
If you use a stand up desk without a separate monitor and a keyboard, you will inevitably hunch over your laptop, as it’s too small to allow you to stand farther from the monitor and keep your arms in a neutral position relevant to your keyboard and mouse. To optimize your standing workstation, you’ll need a separate monitor with a monitor arm and a laptop stand, a keyboard and, ideally, a keyboard tray. A high-density polyurethane anti-fatigue mat is also crucial for good posture, as it takes the load off your low back, reduces fatigue, and allows you to stand upright for longer without shifting your weight to one side and leaning on your desk.
Health Effects of Poor Posture
Health effects of poor posture are easy to predict—hunch, neck, shoulder, and back pain, and shallow breath are the most obvious ones. If you are doing active sports or have excess weight, additional pressure that poor posture puts on your body can accelerate the degeneration of the spine, which may lead to herniated discs and painful joints.
Shallow breath is a common side effect of a poor posture. It cuts the blood flow to the brain and other organs, which was proven to worsen anxiety and mental outlook. If you stand up and assume an upright position, you may not only find it much easier to breathe but also notice your confidence level go up and your focus improve.
What is a Good Posture?
When it comes to identifying poor posture, slouching isn’t the only descriptor. A good posture keeps the spine neutral and well-aligned—close to its natural S shape. It means that if you’re puffing up your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades too much, you’re not keeping your spine neutral. To create a nice and relaxed posture, simply keep your head straight and gaze forward while keeping your shoulders down (make sure not to bring them forward or push them backward).
If you have a poor posture and accompanying aches, which you’d like to correct, there are a few recommendations that can help you both improve and easily maintain good posture:
Adopt an ergonomic workstation. An active ergonomic workstation is a great way to improve your posture. When set up properly, it can help keep your neck, shoulders, and back relaxed. Plus, your spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments get the benefit of proper blood circulation through movement. If you’re tired getting too quickly while working at your stand up desk, a standing mat is a sure way to reduce stress on the low back, legs, and feet.
When sitting, make sure to recline back 120 or 135 degrees. Invest in a footrest to keep your feet up in a neutral position. Adjust your monitor tilt angle to make sure you aren’t craning your neck. If you’re using two monitors, be sure to keep your body aligned with your main display as opposed to constantly moving your head from your right or left monitor.
Finally, active breaks can help relieve muscle tension in the back, neck, legs, and feet, promoting muscle balance and blood circulation. Such breaks can include walking or stretching. The latter can help not only relieve fatigue but also correct your posture.
Good Posture for Positive Mental Outlook
Posture can also affect your mental state. Researchers found good posture to be associated with an improved mental outlook. A study published in Health Psychology found that an upright sitting position improved self-esteem and mood, increased the rate of speech and reduced self-focus in subjects. Another study showed that an upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue, and decrease self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression.
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