HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

June 2014

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Taking a Stand for Better Health

The evidence is clear: Sitting too much causes or exacerbates a variety of health conditions—and hours spent at the gym after work apparently don’t counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. In today’s world, though, where so many workers must sit behind a computer screen to do their job, it can seem impossible to stay active all day.

A new breed of office equipment may help. Standing desks, also known as standup workstations, allow once chair-bound workers to avoid the unhealthy strain of excessive
sitting.

One version uses a fixed surface, similar in height to a bar table; the user must remain on his or her feet the entire time while working at the desk. Moveable workstations, which can alternate between standing and sitting, allow a change of posture depending on user fatigue and work-related needs.
Another way to get in some exercise while bringing in a paycheck are treadmill desks. A desk is positioned on top of a treadmill, usually moving at a leisurely one to two miles per hour, so that the user is continuously walking while working.

It does involve a small learning curve to figure out how to walk and type at the same time. Standing for eight hours a day can be a shock to the body, too. Yet the benefits of working while physically challenging the body have led major companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and AOL, into allowing employees the option of using desks that allow for less sitting during the workday.

The idea of standing at work is not new. Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo da Vinci were noted for standing while working. And in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was standard for office workers to be on their feet all day rather than slouching in a chair.

As people are increasingly being told by their practitioners to move more, the popu­larity of standing workstations has soared. Amanda Castleman, 38, a travel writer and teacher in Seattle, Washington, got a treadmill desk in an effort to manage her restless leg syndrome.

“My focus has sharpened, my energy brims over and my back feels a decade younger,” Castleman says. By averaging about 50 to 65 miles a week on her desk, she has dropped a dress size in just two months without dieting and reports sleeping much better at night.

“I could never exercise this much without multitasking with a treadmill desk,” Castleman says. —Kim Button

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Zinc May Cut Blast-Related

Cell Stress

More than 2 million Americans—including soldiers serving in the Middle East—suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. Scientists now have evidence that the mineral zinc may help fight the cell damage these injuries cause.

The US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine used 32 rats to mimic the types of blast injuries caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a common cause of brain injury among war-zone service members; other rats served as a control group. According to results reported at the American Society of Nutrition’s annual meeting, zinc supplementation helped reduce cell stress caused by such injuries.

The researchers noted that soldiers often lose zinc through perspiration and diarrhea.

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