It is often said that the best exercise is the exercise you actually do. The same goes for ergonomics. Research and theory are essential as a basis for developing both products and whole working environments, but you also need to actually do what is good for you in practice. Stand up for part of the working day. Move about even when you are sitting. Don’t economise on your monitor and keyboard quality. Think about light and sound, for your own sake and for others’. And, not least – remember that your body is made for movement, straining and variation.
1. STAND UP FOR YOUR HEALTH
Most people sit far too much for their own good. Not only at work. In the car. On the bus. At the breakfast table and in front of the TV. It is estimated that, nowadays, an adult sits for 9 of the 16 hours of their waking day. Think about it – how many hours per day do you sit still, how many hours do you move about, and what can you do to become more active? A height-adjustable table is of course a good start for a more mobile and healthy life. But remember to use the table, and switch regularly between sitting and standing in order for it to be of any use. Standing up for ten minutes from time to time may not sound like very much, but it makes a big difference to the body. The best thing, of course, is standing up for your health before your neck, shoulders and back remind you how important it is.
2. TAKE AN ACTIVE BREAK
A short break from time to time is the first step towards a healthier life. But taking a break is not the same thing as resting passively. On the contrary. You should preferably move a little when you take a break. Slight muscle effort sets off lots of positive processes in the body, and works real miracles for your health. A workplace where movement and variation are built in is therefore not only good for your back, shoulders and neck, but also reduces the risk of problems such as heart and vascular disease. A number of new studies show the importance of more movement during the working day, since exercise and other physical activity do not entirely compensate for the health risk posed by long-term daily sitting. Too much sitting still is a dangerous behaviour for weight, blood lipid values and diabetes. Take a break roughly once every half hour. Not to rest, but to be active.
3. HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH
It is an ergonomic challenge of our times that we spend so many hours every day in front of a screen. And not only at work. On the way to or from work, when you are shopping, during the coffee break, at home in the kitchen and in bed – we sit with our noses buried in a screen. Literally. The problem is not the screen itself, but our tendency to bend over it and into it. Especially when you use mobile screens such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. You get a so-called ’screen neck’. The heavy strain we subject the neck to when we bend it in this way can cause pain in the neck and shoulder areas, but can also make us tired and tense and give us headaches. When there is no other remedy, we have to rely on ourselves. The best tip is to put the screen aside and do something different. If you really need it, you can make a big difference by lifting your gaze and holding your head a little higher. You will improve your body posture and relieve your neck. Small details that can make a big difference.
4. SIT, BY ALL MEANS, BUT DON’T SIT STILL
Do you find it hard to sit still? Congratulations! Because the best way to sit is to move around. Forget the myth that there is one single correct sitting position which everyone should aim for. Or that you absolutely should not throw yourself down on a chair for a while and rest your legs. It is actually fine to sit for parts of the day, especially if the sitting involves variation, movement and activity. So it is good to have a task chair which follows your body rather than vice versa, which is easy to adjust to you and which allows you to sit in as many different ways as possible.
5. AND WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE
It is easy to understand that tables and chairs are important in creating good ergonomics. You can see them and touch them. In the case of sound and light it is a little more difficult. Because although we know that they affect people, they are rather forgotten, invisible areas. In the case of damaging noise there are laws and regulations, but sound can be annoying without being actually damaging. Sound is subjective, and we all perceive sound differently, depending on who we are, what we are working with and how stressed we are. The same goes for lighting. Just such a simple thing as the fact that we have different needs for light at different ages. Both sound and light have a lot to do with the planning of the workplace and are something you as an individual cannot influence very much. A few tips are nevertheless useful for making the acoustic and light environment better for both you and your colleagues. As far as sound is concerned, consideration is a good starting point. A quiet conversation is obviously less annoying than a loud one. When we talk on the telephone, we have a tendency to talk with a louder voice than is really necessary. Maybe you can move somewhere else for lengthy conversations or meetings. And did you know that too little light makes the body secrete melatonin, which makes you sleepy? So good lighting is a bright idea if you want to be certain of coping all day long. Make sure you can adjust your lighting needs yourself, with additional lamps if you need them.