|More movement at desks pays off
[12-12-2011] A scientific study proves that varied dynamic seating does not just prevent back pain, but can also significantly increase performance
Millions of office workers share the same problem: they do not move about enough. And that is no surprise. After all, physical activity at desks is usually confined to using the keyboard or mouse. However, the lack of physical activity does have devastating effects: it leads to metabolic dysfunction, atrophy of the muscles and frequently back pain. A solution is provided by office chairs that also activate the natural range of movement bodies are capable of. The Centre for Health at German Sport University Cologne has looked at the three-dimensional seating concept in more detail. It was appointed by office chair manufacturer Wilkhahn to carry out a comparative field study. The study verifies that the varied flexibility was actually used and thus did not just considerably enhance the feeling of well-being, but also performance.
Bad Münder. Healthcare professionals and ergonomists now all agree: movement is the only effective way of combating back pain, the number one complaint. That is the theory anyway. In the real world the hunched position in front of the screen is still one of the most common postures while working. Therefore, an important antidote to the detrimental effect of sitting still is also keeping bodies active while at desks – where movement is lacking. German office furniture manufacturer Wilkhahn developed Trimension®, an innovative seating concept based on these findings. These are three-dimensional seating mechanics that follow the positions and functions of the knee and hip joints. Because the flexibility of the hip as the body’s motion and power centre is key to stimulating the spine, the shoulder joints, back and neck muscles, but also to the knee joints and leg muscles. It is not just about forwards, backwards and sideways movements, but a combination of all three as a rotation. These seating mechanics have been used in ON® for the first time. An initial study by the Centre for Health looked into the specific motion options of the office chair and confirmed its positive impact on the body (2009). The results of a second study are now also available that dealt with a question that is relevant in business terms:
Does more motion also mean office workers perform better?
The comparative field study was carried out over 12 weeks in an office complex belonging to the German healthcare insurance company AOK in Cologne. Some 80 people, aged between 23 and 59, were randomly divided up into a trial and a control group of 40 each. The people taking part continued to carry out the same, familiar activities in both groups. The only difference: a week after the study started the trial group went about their daily office work on ON office chairs, while the control group still used their previous office chairs. Standard scientific tests were used to identify intellectual performance, concentration skills and the subjective feeling of well-being. At 3 p.m. (give or take an hour) the body is usually at its lowest ebb and this was the time chosen to take measurements.
The results of the trial are clear. Compared with the control group, the ON group’s concentration improved considerably in all disciplines measured. After three months, concentration spans (how quickly the right result was achieved) increased from the expected under-average index value of 22 to a normal value of 50 when the body was at its lowest ebb. Concentration accuracy (how often was the right result achieved) even improved from 55 to the above-average figure of 87. Concentration consistency (how well was performance kept up during the trial) showed that these performance and accuracy increases were also consistently maintained at an index value of 74 (previously 38). How healthy the people taking part felt also tallied with the objective measurement criteria: 58 per cent admit that their feeling of well-being has improved thanks to the chair. Whereas the control group stayed on a level ranging from lower than average to average.
In other words: dynamic seating pays for itself.
“A living organism is based on the principle of stimuli and response”, explains Prof. Ingo Froböse, head of the Centre for Health. “Which is why a variety of stimuli need to be provided during office work. ON’s Trimension is huge progress towards dynamic seating and an important component in a workplace concept that is as integrated as possible and that activates both body and mind” adds Froböse. In other words, an office chair that encourages varied and frequent movement while people are sitting down is good for the body and pays off. And the effect is multiplied if other opportunities for physical activity in the office are used.
Tips for more physical activity in the office:
You can download detailed information on the study by the Centre for Health here.
For more information contact:
mai public relations GmbH
> Press Release "More movement at desks pays off'' pdf
> Summary ZfG Study 2011
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