Is Ergonomics Enough?


So you’ve got it all set up:

  • Key board tray at the exact proper height
  • Split keyboard so your wrists and hands are properly aligned while typing
  • Height of computer at or below eye level
  • The crème del la crème of chairs with all the bells and whistles

So why do you still have pain?   Because ergonomics isn’t enough! Not by a long shot! Being tethered ball and chain-like to your desk STILL puts you at risk for injury.  It’s not the equipment per se, it’s the lack of movement.

According to an article by James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D research has linked long periods of sitting to a myriad of health problems including obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), high blood sugar and excess belly fat and high cholesterol levels in addition to risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

A study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a television or other screen-based entertainment with those who spent more than fours a day in front of a screen.  Adults who logged more screen time demonstrated an almost 50% increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease.  Furthermore, the increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as smoking or high blood pressure.

All you have to do is substitute television or screen-based entertainment with work.  There is no difference.  The kicker here is that spending a few hours a week at the gym or any other moderate or vigorous activity DOES NOT APPEAR TO SIGNIFICANTLY OFFSET RISK.

So what the heck is the answer? MOVE IT!!!!

  • Stand while on the phone or eating lunch;
  • Alternate standing with sitting with a high low desk or just get up and walk every hour;
  • Have walking meetings instead of sitting meetings which are so 20th century

The impact of moving is incredible!  You’ll burn more calories which may lead to weight loss and increased energy.  In addition to this, the muscle activity required for standing and other movement seem to trigger processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars in the body.  These processes stall when you sit and your health risks increase.  Standing and moving jump start these processes.

The complete picture is even more dire; the sitting doesn’t even begin at work.  It begins with getting to work; then sitting at work; then getting home from work.  If there is a gym involved that’s great but as we just learned, that isn’t enough.  After the gym (if there is one), there’s television for binge-watching any number of shows.  It doesn’t even begin in adulthood any more.  We are beginning to see a rise in childhood obesity because children don’t go out and play anymore—they sit transfixed in front of a Play station, getting the jump on a repetitive stress injury to their thumbs and ever widening waist lines.

My mission is to challenge the corporate structure to support and embrace a dynamic and energetic workforce; to take a proactive rather than reactive interest in the overall health and wellness of their employees.

Yes, it begins with setting up the most supportive work space possible but it my no means ends there.

Book Authored by Deidre Ann Johnson

Keep this handy book by your desk while working or in your carry on when travelling for tips to keep you flexible and pain free.