Posted on by Jo Wozniak

Heart Foundation warns of the risks of sitting all day and not getting enough exercise

Steppie

If you thought those standing desks, and even the newer treadmill desks, were a fad, think again.

The Australian Heart Foundation says more than half of Australia's workers don't do enough exercise to be healthy. It's warned of the dangers of sitting down all day, saying it pushes up the risk of deadly heart disease.

The Heart Foundation survey showed that many nine-to-fivers were more sedentary than ever, but while many knew it was bad for them, they weren't changing their behaviour.

Will Ockenden reports.

(Sound of lift)

LIFT RECORDING: Ground floor.

WILL OCKENDEN: It's a choice many face every day, take the lift or the stairs.

LIFT RECORDING: Going up.

WILL OCKENDEN: The choice is often an easy one - laziness wins out.

LIFT RECORDING: Third floor.

WILL OCKENDEN: A report released today by the Heart Foundation shows that more than ever workers are arriving at work, sitting down and barely moving until it's time to go home.

The Heart Foundation surveyed 1,100 people with more than half saying they don't do enough exercise to be healthy. A quarter said they don't do any physical activity at all.

The National Heart Foundation'S CEO Mary Barry says it's concerning.

MARY BARRY: When you couple that with another statistic that says 70 per cent of workers would prefer to be using their gadgets and their ITs rather than doing physical activity. So we're very concerned that sedentary behaviour is becoming a real risk for heart disease.

WILL OCKENDEN: She says the negative health effects of sitting today are well known, but it's the workplace where big changes can be made.

MARY BARRY: And what we want people to do is to try and incorporate small changes into their daily routine to be more physically active throughout the day. And we don't want to underestimate the role the workplace can play in this because there are many things the workplace can do.

WILL OCKENDEN: The Heart Foundation practices what it preaches. it's office has several stations where workers can either sit or stand.

KAREN: When you feel like you, you know, you might have sitting for awhile and you feel like you just need to get up and stretch your legs, then you just raise the platform up.

WILL OCKENDEN: One of its employees, Karen, says she noticed A difference once she got her standing desk.

KAREN: You just feel like you're having, you know, a stretch at the same time, not just sitting sedentary all day, which is easy to do.

WILL OCKENDEN: And how often do you put it up and put it down, how many times do you reckon you it a day?

KAREN: Probably up and down about four or five times a day but for long periods of time.

WILL OCKENDEN: While many Australian workers know they're not getting enough exercise, it seems most would rather stay at their desk than getting up and doing something about it. Nearly half in the survey said they don't enjoy exercise, and a third want the exercise that they do do to have instant results.

Heart Foundation CEO Mary Barry.

MARY BARRY: What we do is we drive to where we need to go or we get a lift, we get as close as we can to our destination, then we get out, we go into work, we sit most of the day, we then come home and we sit down and either watch TV or we go and sit at our computers and we spend the whole day sitting.

WILL OCKENDEN: But the internet's got so many good things on it.

MARY BARRY: Well the internet might have wonderful good things, but think about the fresh air you'll get, think about the good you'll do your body when you go out there and run around or walk around and go and socialise with people.

WILL OCKENDEN: Part of the problem, says Mary Barry, is convincing workplaces to invest in equipment that would allow people to stand and work.

But she says there are other things people can do to get more movement in at work, such as occasionally walking down the corridor instead of sending an email.

MARY BARRY: Over the years we've invested a lot of money in ergonomic seating, let's now look at integrating having good seating and good chairs with also good standing desks, so by having that integration I think workplaces need to move with the times.

WILL OCKENDEN: The concern is unsurprisingly echoed by the head of the Australian Medical Association, Professor Brian Owler.

He told me, while standing, there are few things that people can do to get more exercise into every work day.

BRIAN OWLER: Something very simple, we're not asking people, as Mary said, to go and out and do marathons or become gym junkies. We're not asking people to undertake some sport of physical activity that's beyond them. We're just simply pointing out the benefits of reducing physical inactivity, the concept of sitting for long periods, instead getting up and moving around, even it's just for a short period of time. There are health benefits to doing that.

WILL OCKENDEN: So what is the science, what is the medical science on sitting around too much?

BRIAN OWLER: There is good evidence to say that there are a whole range of conditions that are less likely to develop if you essentially are moving. The actual science of that I think is still a matter that's been underway in terms of people are still researching it, but we certainly know that there's a cause and effect that's there.

MARK COLVIN: Will Ockenden prepared that report.

Anti-Fatigue Mats

If you use a standing desk, you should also be using an anti-fatigue mat. This will provide support for your feet and relieve pressure on your heels, back, legs, and shoulders, which in turn helps you stand for longer.
 

Why an anti-fatigue mat?


Standing desk users are often seen as a bit weird. (If you’re looking for our fullstanding desk guide, click here.) Most people who are required to stand all day for work wish they could sit down, and here we are, standing on purpose. But whether you’re standing because you want to or because you have to, nearly everyone agrees that using an anti-fatigue mat can reduce the risk of injury, improve your circulation, and help you move around more during the day.

The Role of Anti-Fatigue Matting in Practical Ergonomics

Reduce fatigue and injury claims by improving work conditions

Different styles of Anti-Fatigue Matting

We've all felt it - foot, leg and back pain resulting from long days of standing and working.  It is one of the most common causes of physical fatigue in the workplace.   In fact, apart from headaches, low back pain is the largest cause of pain and physician contact in the United States.  So what's being done to end the suffering?

Physical fatigue occurs when muscles are constricted and blood flow is reduced.   Because the heart is forced to work harder to pump blood through these constricted areas, the body runs out of energy.  The result is pain, discomfort and fatigue. Anti-fatigue mats work by encouraging subtle movement of leg and calf muscles, which in turn, promotes an easier flow of blood back to the heart. This is called "Dynamic Ergonomics" - the study of ensuring standing worker comfort by means of muscle activity.

In a formal study at the Center of Ergonomics at the University of Michigan, Ergonomist Mark Redfern concluded that different standing surfaces can have dramatic effects on physical fatigue.  The study involved fourteen subjects at the Ford Chesterfield Trim Plant who were required to stand throughout their entire shift.  A variety of floor conditions were tested, from concrete to a 3/8" rubber anti-fatigue mat.  The results were conclusive.  Workers who were forced to stand on hard concrete floors for long periods of time suffered significant levels of fatigue and discomfort in the legs, back and throughout the body.  On the other hand, workers who stood on anti-fatigue mats were able to reduce the level of fatigue and discomfort by as much as 50%!

How do Anti-fatigue Mats Work?

How Anti-fatigue Mats Work

Standing for long periods of time on hard floor surfaces is very uncomfortable and causes physical fatigue. Leg muscles become totally static and constricted as they work overtime to keep that person in an upright position. Blood flow is greatly reduced causing pain and discomfort.

In this situation the employees' heart is forced to work harder to pump blood through these constricted areas and his body begins to run out of energy. However, if a person is allowed to stand on an anti-fatigue mat, his muscles will subtly contract and expand as they adjust to the flexibility of the mat.

This muscle movement increases blood-flow and increases the amount of oxygen reaching the heart. And fatigue is greatly reduced.

Cisco-Eagle is your source for Safety Mats, Non-Slip Mats, and Anti fatigue Mats. If you don't see the safety mat you need, call Customer Service.

How can anti-fatigue matting save you money?

We refer to the aches and pains of long term standing as Cumulative Standing Trauma (CST) - excessive stress on the spine and back muscles due to stagnant body positions or poor distribution of body weight which may cause pain and injury. Fatigue and pain caused by such long term standing is too often overlooked.  Unfortunately, workers are suffering the consequences on a daily basis.  Companies are losing literally billions each year in reduced productivity, increased worker compensation costs, higher insurance rates and absenteeism.

Since back injuries accounted for 31% of all compensable workers claims in 1994, it is important to not aggravate an existing problem or cause a new one through Cumulative Standing Trauma. CST may also lead to (1.) pronation - the extensive flattening of the foot, which results in arch and heel pain, and (2.) varicose veins caused by the stagnation of blood in lower extremities.  All of these problems can ultimately lead to long term and costly health issues. Anti-fatigue mats are designed to reduce the aggravation and injury associated with CST, thereby reducing costs.

The plight of the standing worker is very real.  The National Safety Council, in its publication "Ergonomics", recommends the use of anti-fatigue mats, as do numerous ergonomists, industrial hygienists, occupational nurses, risk managers, and loss control agents, safety engineers and insurance companies.  Luckily, millions of workers are now benefiting from these recommendations.

The right anti-fatigue mat for the right application can go a long way towards easing the situation and creating a more productive quality driven environment.  Making a conscious effort to place employee comfort and protection as a priority will ensure healthier, happier, and more productive employees.

 

Ergoport's May Sale!


For the rest of May Ergoport are taking 10% of all Anti-Fatigue Mats! Anti-Fatigue mats are a great companion to any standing desk and when seated it can be slid under your desk and out of the way. Anti-Fatigue mats help with blood flow, relieve pressure and will help you stand for longer.

Ergoport has a great dynamic range of mats below, all with 10% off when you purchase online using discount code: Fatigue

View all our Anti-Fatigue Mats here.
 
Ultra Stand Anti-Fatigue
Offers extreme comfort properties Resists all chemicals, oils, greases and fats. Machine washable. Anti-microbial. Non-slip base & top.
Closed cell foam does not absorb liquid. Available in black or with yellow border.
 
ULTRA STAND ANTI-FATIGUE MAT
HERMAN MILLER SAYL CHAIR
The Ergo Bubble Mat is an anti fatigue mat for you to stand on while working at your computer. Soft formula provides relief from constant standing. Can be attached to any of the main work surfaces edge. Domed surface ergonomically designed to improve circulation in legs and feet. Bevelled edges for safety

ERGO BUBBLE MAT
MARBLE FOOT ANTI-FATIGUE MAT
Comfortable mat which provides relief from constant standing. Non-slip surface provides traction for user. Used in dry areas such as at checkouts, concierge desks, counters, workstations and other demanding work areas.

MARBLE FOOT ANTI-FATIGUE MAT
ERGOTRON ® WORKFIT ANTI-FATIGUE FLOOR MAT
Ergonomically designed to stimulate blood circulation and prevent fatigue. Bevelled edge reduces trip hazard. Closed-cell construction for easy clean-up. Specially designed composite urethane technology, custom blended medium density polyurethane foam, high tear strength polyurethane outer membrane.

ERGOTRON ® WORKFIT ANTI-FATIGUE FLOOR MAT