Obesity is an important topic today because it is both widespread and deadly. While genetics does contribute to the issue, we now know that inactivity is one of the biggest factors contributing to the epidemic, and desk-bound work plays no small part. Researchers are looking for a solution, and for the past year workers at the financial consulting firm Salo have been testing and loving one of them: the treadmill desk.
While users of the treadmill desk do not find themselves walking at a quick pace, but are going more of a modest 1.4 miles per hour, the results have been very positive. From Yahoo! News:
“Remarkable,” Salo director of operations Craig Dexheimer told NPR. “We didn’t even go to a gym. We just went to work!” Dexheimer says he has lost 25 pounds since switching to the treadmill desk.
Though it may be effective, it is important to use the equipment properly:
“There’s a tendency to want to jump on the treadmill and walk for hours and hours a day,” Dr. James Levine told NPR. “Don’t do that. Certainly, at the absolute maximum, do half-hour on, half an hour off, for two to three hours a day.”
The treadmill desk is a compelling alternative to other cardiovascular workouts that are inconvenient or perhaps too strenuous. It is commercially available, and if you would like to know more, read Treadmill desks might be the next office health trend by Eric Pfeiffer in Yahoo! News.
Gaining good posture is one of the most underrated ways to instantly change your appearance, and in time, your health. Standing straight and square makes you look fitter and taller (and it improves your alertness and vitality to boot). But the effects aren’t just skin deep; over time, maintaining good posture will help keep your back strong, reducing back pain and injury. By staying active and being mindful of your form, you can convince your body that it is years younger—and your appearance will follow suit.
Here are five tips that will straighten you out:
How’s your posture right now? Are you slouching because you feel tired at the moment? You can perk up by standing up. Your blood vessels constrict during periods of inactivity, making you look and feel tired. An active, dynamic standing posture will reinvigorate you within minutes. Try lengthening your back while you stand, as if it were being lifted by a balloon tied to the back of your neck.
If standing for a few minutes puts a spring back in your step, imagine how good an hour of activity might make you feel. Trying a new physical activity, especially one that requires attention to posture, will do wonders for your bearing and give you a renewed, youthful vigor as well. Some sure bets for posture improvement are martial arts, yoga, rowing, and even lower impact activities like figure skating and tai chi. With time and practice, that good posture you learned on the rowing machine will bloom into a body awareness that will keep you looking sharp outside the gym.
Planks, sit-ups, and your gym’s weight circuit can do more than just give you a killer six-pack—strengthening your core muscles will help you stay straight all day. Think of it as posture cross-training. You can even get great results from basic body weight exercises like push-ups and bridging if you want to get a workout at home without any equipment.
Professional massages can peel off years of pent-up muscle soreness and foam rollers are like masseuses in a convenient cylindrical form. Daily foam roller use takes stress off of overused muscles, strengthens complementary muscles and helps dissipate knots and tenderness. You can promote healthy back elongation by lying on your back with the roller cushioning your spine and your arms to your sides. Flatten your spine against the roller as you exhale. You can also reduce upper spine hunching by lying with the roller across the farthest protruding part of your upper back (between your neck and the bottom of your shoulder blades) so that tension on the neck is relieved.
Given all of the sitting, slouching and slumping that is endemic to most office jobs, work is a great place to undo all of your posture karma. Don’t let technology take its toll on you—be aware of your seated posture. Your spine should be in contact with the backrest from your tailbone right up to your upper back. Make sure the center of your computer monitor is 6 inches below your gaze. If you frequently read from papers, tablets or smartphones, bring the media up to you rather than craning to it.
Correcting your posture is a fast, cheap, and healthy way to improve your health and your looks. Best of all, it becomes easier and more natural with practice. Make good posture part of your daily health practice, and you’ll stay healthy and looking great for years to come.
This piece was originally written for Inspyr. You can see the original by visiting the Inspyr blog.
Every day at work you execute thousands of precise, frenetic keystrokes while hunched painfully over a monitor. You text and type and staple and file throughout the day, performing a daily marathon with your forearms and fingers.
And like a marathoner, your tireless performance comes at the cost of physical pain. If left unchecked, your low-impact daily tasks may put you at risk for a repetitive stress injury.
Repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs, are caused by repeated everyday actions. The two most common RSIs are tendinitis, the inflammation of a tendon; and bursitis, the inflammation of a bursa sac. Some well-known examples include carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Though repetitive stress injuries often start as an inconvenient ache, the symptoms can become far more severe if they are ignored. People sometimes assume that their risk of RSI depends on the amount of time spent on a certain action. The time spent is actually less important than the number of repetitions.
For example, if you spent two hours typing only 100 words, your risk is far lower than a friend who typed an epic 2,000 words in only 20 minutes. Furthermore, if your friend repeated her typing binge several times daily over weeks and months, she might start to accumulate orthopedic damage if she didn’t rest prudently.
This repetition of a task over time is what leads to RSI symptoms. The most severe RSIs require physical therapy and medication—even surgery. But the majority of RSIs are easily reversible. Paying attention to posture and switching to more ergonomic products can help to prevent or alleviate painful symptoms.
Computer use is a leading cause of office-related RSIs. To fight this epidemic, many ergonomic products are now available to help improve your posture and take stress off vulnerable joints. One of the most common and effective office aids is the ergonomic keyboard. Its split curved keypad surface elevates typing hands to a less damaging posture. Critics have questioned the effectiveness of ergonomic keyboards since their inception, but it’s hard to argue with results; a 2010 study showed that typists with RSI-related disorders were able to reduce the severity of their symptoms by using ergonomic keyboards.
But what about the computer user on the go? In this modern era, mobility is everything, and laptops are more common than ever. But a laptop is a terrible surface for a portable computer. The hip-height keyboard and screen put strain on your wrists and your neck, and your lap is less steady than a table, which also makes for high-stress typing.
To reduce RSI risk, try elevating the computer to eye level and connecting an external keyboard to your laptop. This will allow you to use the computer as comfortably and ergonomically as you might use a desktop.
If you are at risk for RSIs, it may be best to avoid buying an ultra-compact netbook. Netbooks have keyboards that are smaller than regular laptops, and this can increase the likelihood of typing with incorrect posture.
Phone texting and browsing have become key parts of professional communication, and they have simultaneously become a frequent source of RSIs. Smartphones tend to be heavier than regular cell phones. Android phones and iPhones increase RSI risk for the very reasons they make such enticing gadgets—the touch-screen and added functionality make them more useful, and thus they tend to keep your fingers active when you might otherwise be still.
A recent study suggests that to reduce the likelihood of RSI, you should use both thumbs when texting and take breaks between writing messages. If you find your hands truly in need of rest, try an old-fashioned remedy: use your phone to talk instead of type.
Your home life has just as many possible sources of RSIs. Cooking, gardening, needlecraft, and leisure sports all have their own risks. Game controllers are notorious culprits.
To prevent home and leisure injuries, simply remember that even light exercise puts stress on joints. During leisure time, take it easy. Stretch before playing and take breaks before a slight stiffness becomes a full-blown injury.
Gaining good posture is one of the most underrated ways to instantly change your appearance.
Standing straight and square makes you look fitter and taller, and it improves your alertness and vitality to boot. But the effects aren’t just skin deep: over time, maintaining good posture will help keep your back strong, reducing back pain and injury. By staying active and being mindful of your form, you can convince your body that it is years younger and your appearance will follow suit.
Here are five tips that will straighten you out:
How’s your posture right now? Are you slouching because you feel tired at the moment? You can perk up by standing up.
Your blood vessels constrict during periods of inactivity, making you look and feel tired. An active, dynamic standing posture will reinvigorate you within minutes. Try lengthening your back while you stand, as if it were being lifted by a balloon tied to the back of your neck.
If you want to maximize the age-defying effects of your new stance, those Louboutins have got to go–heels throw off your center of gravity, cause bunions, and lead to back problems down the road.
If standing for a few minutes puts a spring back in your step, imagine how good an hour of activity might make you feel. Trying a new physical activity, especially one that requires attention to posture, will do wonders for your bearing and give you a renewed, youthful vigor as well.
Some sure bets for posture improvement are figure skating, ballroom dancing, rowing, tai chi, martial arts and, of course, yoga. With time and practice, that good posture you learned for the tango will bloom into a body awareness that will keep you looking sharp outside the studio.
Planks, sit-ups and your gym’s weight circuit can do more than just give you a killer six-pack–strengthening your core muscles will help you stay straight all day.
Think of it as posture cross-training. Even fitness novices can get great results from wall push-ups, pelvic tilts, hamstring stretching, and bridging. If your back is too sore to sustain a set of crunches, let a physical therapist be your personal trainer. As part of your treatment, your physical therapist can recommend a regimen of gentle but effective exercises that can be done at home, taking years off of your spine and giving you a bold new bearing.
Professional massages can peel off years of pent-up muscle soreness, and foam rollers are like masseuses in a convenient cylindrical form. Daily foam roller use takes stress off of overused muscles, strengthens complementary muscles and helps dissipate knots and tenderness.
You can promote healthy back elongation by lying on your back with the roller cushioning your spine and your arms to your sides. Flatten your spine against the roller as you exhale. You can also reduce upper spine hunching by lying with the roller across the farthest protruding part of your upper back (between your neck and the bottom of your shoulder blades) so that tension on the neck is relieved.
Given all of the sitting, slouching, and slumping that is endemic to most office jobs, work is a great place to undo all of your posture karma.
Don’t let technology take its toll on you. Be aware of your seated posture. Your spine should be in contact with the backrest from your tailbone right up to your upper back. Make sure the center of your computer monitor is six inches below your gaze. If you frequently read from papers, tablets or smartphones, bring the media up to you rather than craning to it. Not only will this save your back, it’ll make you look about ten pounds lighter!
Correcting your posture is faster, cheaper, and healthier than any beauty treatment and it revitalizes you from the inside out. Best of all, it becomes easier and more natural with practice. Make good posture part of your daily health practice, and you can look years younger for years to come.
It’s no secret that it can be really difficult to maintain your fitness and overall health when so many of your days are spent in the office. Employees can develop carpal tunnel from repetitive wrist movements and a constant deficiency in circulation can cause a number of cardiovascular problems. There are, however, some great solutions to prevent discomfort and a deterioration in health while at work. Some of the best results come from employers that lead by example and implement programs such as a walking group or a push for ergonomics awareness.
A recent post on the Nuesoft Blog shares some great advice when it comes to workplace wellness. In the featured Neusoft video podcast, I talk with Lindsey Coates about how to engage in a routine that works for everyone as well as how to encourage good habits and comfort. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Designate a coordinator to get everyone involved.
- Create a board that will centralize all wellness information (leaflets, routines, leader board – if you want to make it a competition, etc.).
- Walk as a group during lunch around the building or floor you are on.
- Sit on a yoga ball for an hour a day while working on the computer. When your hour is up pass it to another team member.
- Sign up as a group to do a 5k, softball team or other sporting activity. It’ll also promote morale!
If you’ve been working like a weekday robot and using your weekends to workout, you just might be a Weekend Warrior! Weekend sports and outdoor activities like team sports, hikes and swimming are good for both the mind and the body. Plus you’ll feel alive again, until Monday rolls around.
But using physical recreation as a weekends-only reward comes with its own set of risks. Intermittent exercise quickly increases the risk of a muscle strain or ligament tear. Joints can easily be injured without the proper warm-up during the week. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) like plantar fasciitis or shin splints can put you in a walking boot for weeks. Skimping on weekday workouts leaves muscles stiff and poorly conditioned for weekend performance, so you’re far more likely to get injured.
Luckily, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. You can start immediately to optimize your weekday routines in order to excel at your weekend sports activities. Here are six simple tips that can make your weekend performance better, safer, and more fun:
Stretching should always be the first step in a warm-up routine. Basic stretching prevents allows you to prepare the muscles for the work they are going to do, preventing muscle strain injuries. More advanced stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates also improve your balance, core strength, back strength, and conditioning for the spine. You can reap the benefits of stretching even if you are unable to take a dedicated weekday class—just devote fifteen minutes to stretching a few days every week.
I was recently interviewed for a KTVU special on more efficient stretching: Certain Stretches Could Inhibit Athletic Performance
Strength training is an essential way to build endurance for the Weekend Warrior. Muscles need resistance training to function at their full capacity. Utilize lighter weights with multiple reps to improve tone initially—even doing curls with a soup can will help to tone your muscles for endurance-based activities like hiking or distance running. If you’d like to build strength and bulk, gradually move to higher weights with fewer reps.
Many of us are weekend warriors by necessity, not choice—our routine simply does not permit a lot of time to train during the week. But if you can find the time for even a little bit of simple aerobic conditioning, you’ll see a huge change in both your weekend performance and your everyday energy level. Light, easy, and low impact activities — jogging, hiking, tennis — are a great way to optimize cardiovascular health, limit further damage to your cartilage and joints while burning calories, thereby mobilizing muscles naturally.
From Omega 3′s to glucosamine to antioxidants to vitamin D, the right nutrition and dietary supplements can make a big difference in your sports performance and your general well-being. Always consult your doctor, who can support your good health through the appropriate supplements. Remember, a healthy diet, including adequate fluid intake, are essential to all athletes, professionals and weekend warriors alike.
Good ergonomics, posture and even the wear of your shoes can make or break your technique. Take a page from professional athletes, who optimize the mechanics of their technique with custom orthotics, proper shoes, and correct body mechanics. Consider taking a few lessons from a professional trainer in your sport of choice. Also, consider seeing a podiatrist for advice on inserts and shoe wear, especially if you have foot pain. An investment in proper foot support is an investment in your long-term orthopedic health.
Most importantly, realize that exercise should be fun. This certainly goes for your weekend recreational events, but the fun doesn’t have to end on Sunday night. It’s far easier to keep up on your regular conditioning if you genuinely enjoy it and look forward to it. If you’ve been having trouble jogging to prepare for your weekend pursuits, why not substitute rigorous swing dancing? Swimming? Dog frisbee? Or even aerobic gardening? Any weekday physical activity is better than none, and regular light activity will help your body to be acclimated for weekly hard activity.
Remember that whether you are a full-time athlete or a weekend warrior, physical activity that keeps you moving and having fun will keep you motivated and help you reach your fitness goals.
This article was featured on HeathlyBlackMen.org.
Chronic pain causes The United States around $558 billion a year in lost productivity and medical bills. Not surprisingly, thats more than the entire effect of heart disease, America’s number one killer. Chronic pain can be managed to increase your productivity in the workplace.
EverydayHealth has another great article about how to reduce chronic pain in the office. I was interviewed for tips 3 and 4, Move During Your Breaks and Get Help for Heavy Lifting. Here are the links to EverydayHealth’s tips:
Read this EverydayHealth Article on their website.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Google and their stance on user privacy recently. When it comes to the internet and technology, you can always assume some malicious company or person is after your private information. This is no different in the new “app” economy. Free applications are known to search your smartphone for personal information, many times for malicious purposes. These applications don’t give any indication they are sucking in your personal data, so to be safe you must assume these free applications will take your data in order to turn a profit. For more information, be sure to read this PhysiciansMoneyDigest article.
Moshe Lewis, MD, a pain management specialist, is referred to as the “Digital Doctor” due to his use of social media to establish better doctor-patient relationships. He says that these apps really are not free when it comes to the privacy of information.
“The fact is that information is always being collected,” says Lewis, noting that Amazon absorbs information like a wet sponge. “I think the challenge is that we almost have to stay off the Internet to avoid it.”
However, the best site at gathering information may be Google, according to Gray, who finds Gmail “the spookiest of all.” Google’s email service lifts and saves keywords from email. For example, if you send an email to someone discussing the fact that you’re planning a vacation to Florida, you’ll soon see ads popping up on your screen promoting Florida vacations and airfare.
“It’s actually delving into your correspondence and using that information to market to you,” he says.
And physicians need to be aware of that, says Gray. They should realize that if they’re using an app to write or chart patient prescriptions, that information is likely being monitored.
“If you’re a gastroenterologist, presumably there’s some organization that would like to know what you’re prescribing and target certain products to you based on that information,” he says.
Read this article on PhysiciansMoneyDigest.com.
Chronic pain has the ability to strip individuals of their productivity, happiness, and well-being. ABC News wrote this great piece about Tiiu Leek and her pain in the workplace, describing how women feel more pain than men do. The article references a relatively new study from The Journal of Pain that showed women generally feel more pain than men. However, this study wasn’t thorough since it didn’t account for confounding factors such as emotional effects or an additional painful disease. Women tend to be better at analyzing and describing their pain to doctors which give the illusion they feel more pain. As a culture, men are expected to complain about pain less as well as talk about their emotions. One’s mental well-being has a huge effect on physical pain, thus conclusive studies are hard to produce. Nevertheless, the findings reflect what I see as a chronic pain specialist. Here is a telling excerpt from the ABC News article:
Meyer saw 13 doctors before she got a proper diagnosis and the majority were men. “It’s very uncomfortable for them to see real emotion: ‘Tell me the facts, m’am, just the facts.’ I see them tune out.”
Now, she consciously spares the doctor the emotional talk. “I can literally be in so much pain I am crying when the staff is in there, but I pull it together when the doctor is in the room and have no tears at all. And it’s not easy to have to do that.”
She said doctors need to listen more to their female patients – “feelings are a part of the equation … Patients shouldn’t have to shut things down.”
Both Meyer and Leek sit on the leadership circle at For Grace, an advocacy organization that educates, supports and empowers women in pain through annual conferences and legislative outreach.
For Grace’s “Fail First” bill recently got through the California State Assembly’s appropriations committee on a 12-5 vote. If signed by the governor, it will allow women in pain much better access to pain medications, bypassing insurance companies.
As for Leek, she has seen marked improvement in her pelvic pain thought exercise and homeopathic approaches. She also tries to surround herself with positive people.
“My career was lost, but not my optimism,” she said. “I continue to live well. I once read that if you can get through your 60s unscathed, you can have a pretty good life.”
Read this article on ABCnews.com
I often encourage my patients to cook at home since it tends to be healthier, but I understand that cooking can put a lot of ware on the body, especially if you’re not using well-made equipment. I was interviewed by EverydayHealth.com for advice on the most useful cooking tools and gadgets around. With these eight cooking appliances, pain caused by working in the kitchen will be replaced by fun and pleasure.