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article imageOp-Ed: Your desk job and your health: A look at alternative workspaces

By Alyssa Sellors     Jul 18, 2013 in Health
As our workspaces become more confined to sitting at computers in desk chairs, our health is suffering with crippling musculoskeletal problems that can occur as a result of inactivity and poor posture.
It is no surprise that sitting all day can lead to obesity and other related health problems, but even with frequent standing and walking breaks, it is an unnatural position to sit all day hunched over a computer.
According to a recent article in The National, the average office worker sits at a desk between 8 to 10 hours a day, which means sitting for 90 percent of the day. This same article also cites a study out of Germany on health related absences where researchers found that in industrialized countries, one-third of all health related absences were a result of musculoskeletal disorders, and 60 percent of those were back pain.
There are no rules or guidelines for sitting at a desk and working at a computer, but our jobs are causing long-term health problems that are completely preventable. Recently, there have been some innovative ways of changing the current office space environment in order to promote health, wellness, and increased productivity.
Ergonomics refers to equipment that is adjustable to the individual instead of the individual adjusting the equipment, like your common office chair for example. Ergonomic office furniture allows the individual to function properly and avoid unnatural seated and typing positions. Alternative work spaces are still relatively new but there are a few major retailers making strides in the ergonomic office space make-over. Ergonomic Office Designs is one such retailer offering everything from keyboard trays to keep arms at a natural position to kneeling chairs to prevent back pain from sitting in a chair all day. They even offer an adjustable stand for your computer monitor, to adjust based on height and desk arrangement.
Adjustable height desks and variations in seating have become perhaps the most popular ergonomic modifications to the traditional office space. One of these innovative models is the treadmill desk, made popular by both Google and the White House. According to popular treadmill desk manufacturer TrekDesk, walking 10,000 steps per day can help reduce cancer rates by 30 to 70 percent and stroke rate by 70 percent. On this adjustable treadmill, employees walk at a pace they set while working on computers or at the desk tray. The desk is not intended to be used all day, but it is quite beneficial for losing weight and preventing back pain when used 2 to 4 hours per day.
Other options have been using stability balls or standing only desks. The premise is to avoid bad posture that we can all fall into when sitting at a desk. The position of the keyboard and our desks are at an unnatural height for our arms, and ergonomic options allow our bodies to work the way they were intended to. Our bodies are simply not made to sit with our arms propped up and head hunched over all day long. The major benefits of creating alternative workspaces can lead to a healthier workplace, increased comfort, and more productivity. In the end, both employees and companies can benefit from office equipment intended to promote health.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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