Because of the current pandemic, many companies have extended their remote work policy to allow employees to remain and perform their duties from home. While office life is associated with sedentarism due to the number of times workers spend sitting, the move home may worsen the situation. There’s no need to commute, fewer reasons to move around, and homes are generally associated with relaxation.
People concerned with their health may turn to ergonomic chairs, thinking they may be a good way to avoid sitting disease. While these products may feel comfortable to sit in, concerning health, they don’t do much. Many myths surround these products. Thus, it’s important to shine some light on what is real or false concerning ergonomic products, and why instead you should consider an active sitting solution.
Ergonomic sitting doesn’t solve sedentarism
When we sit for several hours a day we’re slowly deteriorating our health. A person lives a sedentary lifestyle when little to no physical engagement happens throughout the day. People who perform less than one hour of physical activity per day fall into this category. It’s the most prominent risk factor associated with many leading causes of death, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and general lower mortality. Compared to their physically active counterparts, people in sedentary lifestyles have a two-time risk of premature death.
Most people may not realize how high their level of inactivity is while working from home, as the average American adult sits around six and a half hours a day. Many products advertise solutions to these issues by offering comfortable sitting experiences, but the reality is that beyond comfortability they’re useless; the only solution to this problem is physical activity. Active sitting solutions engage your muscles, meaning they constantly fight off the effects of sitting disease.
It’s not strictly necessary to perform a workout routine every day to fight an inactive lifestyle (most of us don’t really have the 60 minutes per day of work out needed to counter the prolong sitting); it’s about finding ways to engage your muscles through the day via active sitting and by making a conscious effort to take any opportunities to stand up. As a rule of thumb, a person should walk 5 minutes for every two hours they’re sitting or at least consider standing up. Something as simple as just standing can have a significant impact on weight and posture.
Design determines the benefits
Generally speaking, when a product advertises as an ergonomic solution, it gets confused as a healthy alternative to counter the dangers of sitting disease and this is completely wrong. In reality, ergonomics relates to how comfortable the design of a product is. As Cambridge Dictionary describes, “it relates to the design of furniture or equipment which makes it comfortable and effective for people who use it.” Yet, no matter how comfortable someone is, their posture may still be compromised, possibly resulting in back and neck pain.
Ergonomic chairs may be comfortable, but they are still rigid. In contrast, active solutions promote movement and engage different muscles in your body without interrupting your concentration. They allow your body to burn calories without even breaking a sweat. In combination with physical activity, they’re the best way to mitigate the negative effects of an office lifestyle.
Selecting the right product to take care of oneself is all about design. To explain this deeply first, we need to take a look into the history of furniture, especially chairs. Before the 20th century, not much attention was paid to how comfortable a chair was. Everyone was using plain wooden chairs, and padded furniture was considered a luxury because of the materials and process involved in making them.
However, during the 20th century, chairs became a vehicle for expression, visual design, and comfiness. Sitting boiled down to how nice a product looked in your living room and how comfortable you felt, without paying much attention to the serious problems any design could cause in someone’s health down the line. Focusing on comfortability only encouraged people to sit for more extensive amounts of time, which, among other factors, contributed to the problems we have right now concerning inactivity.
The Activeseat Co., focus is centered on preserving this comfort while encouraging people to maintain an active lifestyle. However, there’s still a lot of misinformation spreading around how comfiness translates into a healthier lifestyle, but posture is determined by design, not by how relaxing it feels to sit on any given product. As Steve Jobs put it, “design is not what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works”.
Skip the middleman: Get an active sitting solution
The workplace and jobs themselves have changed because of COVID-19, and it’s time for people’s habits to adapt to this change for good. There are many ways to tackle the problems associated with the sitting disease. Combining different strategies that promote physical activity during the day, coupled with an active sitting solution, is the best way to mitigate the adverse effects of inactivity. Small details add up, so to maximize your physical activity during the day consider:
- Use active sitting products: These products include chairs and pedals that, by design, keep your body constantly engaged, but also force you to improve your posture. Although it’s always good to incorporate physical activity during the day, active sitting allows you to work without worrying about your body slowly deteriorating.
- Moving your phone: People at home that have to engage in many phone calls during the day should consider having their phones to a different room. The objective is to stand up and walk around each time they answer the phone.
- Stricter timeframes: As mentioned before, for every two hours that you sit, consider standing up for five minutes. This time cannot be accumulated. People cannot sit for four hours and stand up for ten minutes because no amount of exercise makes up for the time spent sitting around. It’s all about consistency. Setting up phone alarms to stand up is an excellent way to be reminded of these timeframes.
- Incorporating other habits: Look for different areas of your life where you can incorporate physical activity. Consider taking a sport or waking up earlier to walk. The key element is to take any opportunity that doesn’t disrupt your productivity at work to stand up and move around.
Companies are taking the current situation as an opportunity to improve areas of their employees’ lives, such as allowing for more remote work in the future. However, organizations and individuals need to go beyond what is presented to us in advertisements and consider solutions that constantly impact people’s lives. It’s time to ditch useless solutions because at the end of the day, the healthier we get, the happier we are.