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And for workers with pain caused by back, leg or hip injuries, sitting for long periods can be excruciating. This is why we are seeing more and more workplace initiatives encouraging mini-breaks away from the computer throughout the day. The use of ergonomic office equipment for staff who need it, such as a sit-stand workstation, is also becoming more common.
Christine Cheston, a health safety and environment administrator, knows first-hand how prolonged sitting in the workplace can have a negative impact on morale and productivity for workers.
Cheston shares the story of a woman who has been using a sit-stand workstation and who, in just a short time, has already found a difference in her overall pain level.
“The pain would kick in and she would try to stop it but didn’t know how,” says Cheston. “She would get stressed out because she was so focused on the pain and worried about meeting her deadlines. Now, when she feels the pain coming on, she has the ability to stand up, to move her desk up and down. She has fewer spasms, which has reduced her anxiety level. She’s so much happier.”
For employees who can’t sit for longer periods of time, a sit-stand workstation can be beneficial. But Paolo Naccarato, the ergonomics consultant at WCB’s Millard Health, says it’s important for all workers to make a point of moving around regularly throughout the day, even if they don’t find sitting uncomfortable.
“There has been extensive coverage in the media about the negative effects of sedentary work,” says Naccarato. “But it still remains to be seen whether these sit-stand stations encourage standing by workers who don’t experience pain while sitting. It’s important for workers to take the initiative to stand and engage in light physical activity throughout the workday, even if they don’t already experience pain. This can help increase energy, reduce back pain, burn calories and strengthen muscles. Simple activities, like standing up to take a phone call, stretching or taking a short walk can go a long way.”
So take a stand (and walk) for your health—your body will thank you for it.
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