Tag Archives: Mayo Clinic

Study uncovers the science underlying sit-stand workstation use

In February 2012, Ergotron participated in a scientific study with the University of Minnesota (School of Public Health) and the Mayo Clinic called, “The Effect of Sit-Stand Workstations on Physical Activity in Sedentary Office Workers: A Randomized Crossover Trial.”

pants01-lrWhen we first blogged about it in, “What’s the skinny on sit-stand desks? (Hint, it has to do with magic underwear),” the study was just about to begin. Emphasis was on increasing the understanding of how prolonged sitting can lead to such serious issues as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease.

“The primary purpose of our research is to establish whether the use of sit-stand desks to reduce sitting time was both feasible and effective,” said Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager Ergonomic Research at Ergotron and coauthor of the study.

So where does the “magic underwear” fit into that? Explains Schmitz, “Each participant wore a posture measurement device designed by Dr. James Levine and his researchers at the Mayo clinic. Essentially these were bike pants fitted with accelerometers and worn beneath normal clothing that told us whether participants were sitting, standing or walking.”

A formal announcement of the study occurred last May in Chicago when lead researcher Nirjhar Dutta presented the study findings at the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions.

Based on the data gathered in 2012, the feasibility aspect of the study hypothesis was proven because it was demonstrated that participants preferred their new sit-stand work style to their former seated-only habits.

According to Nirjhar Dutta, “The sit-stand workstations were highly popular with over 96% of the subjects enjoying their use.” (Update: The 96% figure turned out to be misleading, because at the 12 month follow-up in 2013, one subject who had initially passed on keeping the sit-stand workstation ultimately returned to it.)

Regarding efficacy, the second part of the study hypothesis, the data showed that the intervention (sit-stand workstations), “significantly increased activity during work hours.” In short, the study was a success and will take its place as an important informer of future, larger studies, like the “Stand-up Australia” and “Stand & Move” studies currently in progress.

Ergotron WorkFit™ sit-stand workstations were chosen as the intervention because they enable office workers to move from a sitting to standing posture (postural rotation) and back again effortlessly. Desks that feature hand-cranking adjustment were ruled out of consideration due to concern that the repeated cranking motion required could itself be a cause of repetitive stress and motor-operated, a lengthy process which likely prohibits mobility, rather than fosters it and burns natural energy resources instead of calories.

Why the distinction? There’s plenty of science indicating that increased activity is vital for a healthy work style, especially these days when technology has taken so many physical tasks out of our hands.

Testament to the importance and timeliness of Ergotron’s continued focus on sit-stand postural rotation research activities is the American Medical Association’s (AMA) recent announcement about adopting a policy on sitting in the workplace: AMA Adopts New Policies on Second Day of Voting at Annual Meeting.

According to AMA board member Patrice Harris, MD, “Prolonged sitting, particularly in work settings, can cause health problems, and encouraging work places to offer employees alternatives to sitting all day will help to create a healthier workforce.”­

Overall, a sit-stand desk appears to be a promising tool to reduce sedentary time at work. Given the proportion of hours spent at work, sit-stand desks may contribute to decreasing sedentary time and improving the health of sedentary office workers.

“Utilizing a product that can improve one’s work experience without negatively impacting health or productivity is paramount,” says Schmitz. “Ergotron’s WorkFit line represents results-driven product design, as evidenced by one of the key findings of the research, that the intervention increased overall sense of well-being, decreased fatigue, and surprisingly, reduced appetite.”

Research like this is helping businesses define how to accomplish the AMA directives. We’ll share more information when the study is formally published. Until then, you will find more sit-stand research and news at Research.juststand.org.

For more information, resources and tools to make your computer experience less damaging and more rewarding, visit us at Computingcomfort.org and Juststand.org.

What’s the skinny on sit-stand desks? (Hint, it has to do with magic underwear)

A new research study by Ergotron, the University of Minnesota (School of Public Health) and the Mayo Clinic was launched in January: “Standing Compared to Sitting in the Workplace: An Experimental Study of Physiological, Behavioral, and Psychological Effects.”

The study is designed to gauge the impact of increased activity when office workers use sit-stand desks instead of the traditional sitting posture desks which have been linked to risks associated to sedentary behavior. “Magic underwear” from the Mayo Clinic (biker shorts fitted with a unique tracking device), worn through various stages of the study, allow the researchers to tell when participants are in a vertical or horizontal position (i.e., sitting or standing).

Caldrea president and VP of marketing chat with James Levine, MD, during research kickoff @ Caldrea

The research is being conducted at Caldrea/Mrs. Meyers, a manufacturer of natural cleaning products situated in the warehouse district of Minneapolis, Minnesota, by the following team:

    • Mark Pereira, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota
    • Steven Stovitz, MD, MS, Associate Professor , University of Minnesota
    • Nirjhar Dutta, Masters Student in Public Health, University of Minnesota
    • Gabe Koepp, M.S., Project Manager, Mayo Clinic
    • James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
    • Carrie Schmitz, Ergonomic Research Manager, Ergotron

The study consists of three phases:

    • During the first month, approximately half the participants are working at an Ergotron sit-stand workstation while the other half continue to sit as they have always done.
    • The second month of the study is a “washout,” meaning everyone engages in sit-only desk work, although health measurements are still gathered.
    • In the final month, the people who had sit-stand desks during Month 1 will sit at their normal sit-only desk, while the other half (those who sat during month 1) will use the sit-stand desks.

All desks have been configured to meet the individual needs of the participants.

Measurements taken during the study include: height, weight, hip and waist circumference, sitting and standing heart rates, and heart rates taken after three minutes of stepping on a 16” platform and 15 minutes (one mile) walking at variable speeds on a treadmill.

Self-report surveys are also being administered throughout the study to learn about a participant’s caloric intake, type and level of activity and perceived stress. Participants are encouraged to actively stand 50% more throughout their workday, and will achieve this by adjusting their workstations to sit or stand as their body demands throughout the day, by standing more in meetings, etc.

A significant feature of this study is the use of a medical van developed at Mayo, in partnership with the U of MN, for use within communities. The van houses a DEXA scanner that delivers body mass index data on each of the 30 participants. At the end of the study the measurements and surveys will be compared in order to determine if participants benefited from the time spent engaged in sit-stand work.

Throughout, Ergotron has played a major role, not only supplying the sit-stand workstation solutions participants will be using during the research, but also serving as Project Manager and lending crucial ergonomic resources in terms of education and personal workstation assessments.

Here’s some coverage* of the research to date:

The results of this study are expected to be made public at the end of May and will also be presented at Ergotron’s second annual Just Stand Wellness Summit in July. With what we expect to learn from the Caldrea participants, the possibility that this effort will fuel an even larger, more comprehensive study is high.

*Due to inaccuracies that sometimes get reported, if you have any questions about the study feel free to contact us info@ergotron.com.