Category “Health & Wellness”
We all know leading a sedentary lifestyle – aka sitting on our butts all day – is bad for our health. Recently, scientists have conducted studies to put some factual science behind the reality of what sitting does to our health.
From back pain, muscle degeneration and foggy thinking to more extremes like increased risk of colon and endometrial cancers, the jury is in … sitting all day wrecks havoc on our health.
We love this infographic created by Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark with the Washington Post, outlining exactly what health issues arise when we sit all day.
Here are some highlights from the infographic about the health risks of sitting that stood out to us:
- Sitting for long periods of time slows blood circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs.
- Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers.
- Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart.
- A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting.
Pretty scary stuff when you think about how much our modern lifestyle is spent sitting down. The good news is that all these health risks related to sitting are entirely preventable with the use of motion seating, like the Swopper or Muvman, and by incorporating movement into your day.
~ Jenn Lytle, Director of Customer Service and Social Marketing
One of our main goals here at Swopper is to introduce the benefits of motion seating to as many people as possible. A good way we’ve found to do this is to show the chairs to professions we think will have an innate interest in the health and wellness benefits of Swopper.
This strategy has been immensely popular with a specific profession – chiropractors.
We knew that the chiropractic world would understand something like swopper and the benefits of motion. After all, they are all about keeping the spine etc. in proper working condition and they make a living fixing people who suffer from chronic back pain due to injury, sedentary jobs, congenital issues or a host of other impactful conditions.
When we speak to chiropractors about the Swopper chair, here’s what we tell them:
- It opens up the hip/spine angles to better help with circulation, which in turn opens the diaphragm for better lung expansion and breathing capacity
- Swopper provides a gentle intuitive bouncing motion that draws nourishment into the intervertebral discs
- It puts you into a proper posture automatically due to the tilt range functions.
- Finally, it strengthens the abdominal, back, shoulder and leg muscles – all of which play into their treatment. If you don’t have the strong muscles, it just makes everything that much harder on the spine and other parts of the skeletal system.
All of these benefits can be looked at as an extension of what the chiropractor may be doing for the patient. We have many chiropractors that use the Swopper themselves and also recommend them to their patients.
Many prescribe Swopper as part of a treatment plan by having the patient use our motion products at work to assist with everything they are doing physically with the patient during their appointments. Or they may look at them as a preventative program to help with or slow down the onset of a certain conditions.
Any way you look at it – chiropractors, physical therapists, kinesiologists, doctors and many more understand the technical aspects of our motion products and the health and wellness benefits one receives from using them.
That’s why this year we will be attending the National Chiropractic Leadership Conference, showcasing our Motion Division. If you are a Chiropractor interested in trying out a Swopper chair, call us any time to discuss a risk-free trial.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
It is not uncommon for people who are new to motion seating to need a bit of a “breaking in” period to adjust from their normal sedentary sitting to active motion sitting. Some comments we hear from “newbie” swopper users include feeling tired, out of balance and just plain uncoordinated on their new chair.
Think about it … you are going from sitting stationary most of the day, to suddenly bouncing, tilting and swaying. That can be a big adjustment for your muscles that have gotten used to sitting still.
The good news is the body is very adaptable and in no time swopper users go from feeling clumsy to feeling energized, athletic and revived. Here are some tips for getting through this transition period.
- Transition slowly over time. Don’t feel like you need to immediately start swopping all day. It’s perfectly acceptable to slowly ease into the amount of movement you’re doing in a day. Try two hours swopping and then an hour in a stationary chair. This rotation back and forth will give your body an appropriate break from your newfound motion.
- Adjust the chair settings to limit movement range. The swopper has two ways to adjust settings to limit movement at first. There is a cap on the bottom of the middle post. If you turn the chair upside down and twist this to control the amount of side to side tension.
There is also a plastic piece on the center column that twists around the column that controls the amount of bounce tension. In the beginning it is best to have a low tension on the bounce and less side to side tension. This will enable you to not use too much energy to bounce up and down & side to side, keeping you more upright.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to cues and prompts that motivate you to move, stretch or sit still. It’s surprising how many of us have a disconnection to our bodies. Swopper and active sitting prompts a lot more communication between the body and the brain. For some this can be a new introduction to an old friend and it may take time again to reestablish that relationship and feel comfortable with it.
- Make a commitment. Active seating is a new way of life in the office. It is about shaking it up and committing to motion vs. stagnant sitting. It is not about rigorous exercise, but the cumulative effect of moving all day vs. very little movement. By committing to this new healthy way of sitting, you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run.
- Allow your brain to adjust. If you have been sedentarily sitting for a long period, your muscle (and your brain is a muscle) has memory and gets used to this position and the feeling and state that surrounds it. If you abruptly disrupt this state you change everything and you change it quickly. This creates muscle confusion allowing for a new state to emerge. These are good things and show that the body is evolving to a new way of sitting and feeling creating a sense of new normal.
Changing the way you sit all day may take time to adjust to. The good news is that this adjustment period is typically short (a few weeks) and if you follow the tips above, you can limit any discomfort. With time, you’ll begin to feel at ease on your swopper and we guarantee you won’t ever look back.
~ Chas Hepler, swopper CEO
As we all know, sitting statically without moving is very detrimental for our health. We are at a higher risk of developing poor posture, bad circulation and even having muscles deteriorate or atrophy over time.
Recent research also identifies static sitting being responsible for increased risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity. Bottom line – don’t sit all day.
As a direct result of this research, there has been a trend within commercial office environments to evolve to using standing workstations instead of the traditional workstation / work surface being used with a standard office chair. In theory this makes sense i.e. sitting all day is bad, therefore standing all day is good right? Not necessarily so.
There is evidence that suggests that when one is standing statically for long periods, this requires the joints to be loaded on for longer than is healthy, which can lead to joint strain. It is also possible to get into negative or bad postural positions when standing e.g. incorrect leaning on elbows, overloading one side of the body versus the other and the like.
Now research shows that you are in greater risk of developing congestive / heart issues if you stand statically all day. Stands to reason (no pun intended) that when you are standing statically for long periods of time, the heart has to work much harder to pump blood from your feet, against gravity, all the way up to your brain. This is more difficult for the heart when one is standing.
So what is the true solution? Quite simply, it’s motion. Staying in movement allows your larger muscle groups to be active. If you can incorporate motion into your workday, be it standing or sitting, you reduce the risks of everything we just mentioned.
Ideally, transitioning from a sitting position to a standing position several times throughout the day is best of all. It takes a lot of energy and muscle activity to move from a sitting to standing position. This is good.
In the example of standing, if you can incorporate motion (say for example when you use muvman stool) this allows you to take the load off your joints periodically and access multi-dimensional movements (vertical, lateral and forward tilt) easily.
This in turn activates your larger muscle groups (the core, leg muscles and the like) that activate your vein pumps, and takes some of the workload of pumping blood off of your heart muscle. Makes sense right?
If you prefer a sitting position, then using a swopper will allow you to incorporate movement with it’s multi-dimensional spring movement. Even better, in combination, both Swopper and Muvman offer you access to multi-dimensional movement for either sitting or standing, reducing your risk of health issues associated with being static or sedentary.
So, what’s the best solution to the sitting/standing problem? Add as much movement to your day as you possibly can even when you are required to sit or stand. Having large muscle activity stimulates better circulation with reduced workload on your heart, while reducing your overall risks associated with being sedentary.
~Nora Fenlon, VP Sales & Marketing
Working at Swopper means health & wellness is always on my mind. I love helping our customers improves their lives with Swopper, and of course you’ll find me “swopping” all day.
Beyond the innovation of Swopper, I turn to technology to help achieve my personal fitness goals as well. Since I know many of our readers are also health-conscious types, I decided to collect a list of my top five apps that help you stay fit & healthy. From tracking my sleep, recording my workouts and measuring what I eat, the apps listed below have helped improve my overall health and wellbeing.
- Garmin Connect – for those that want everything in one spot, this app (tracking band not included but is necessary) tracks everything from your heart rate, steps per day, calories and even watches you while you sleep (to monitor your sleep habits). In addition you can also set goals for yourself and get a monthly breakdown of your progress. All in all, this one gets first place in my book.
- Calorie Counter by My Fitness Pal fits in nice for those that aren’t quite as motivated as the fitness guru next door. This app helps you focus on your diet and nutrition by telling you exactly what that apple & peanut butter on a whole wheat bagel amounts to by way of calories. With 3,000,000 foods on the list, this app is easy to navigate.
- Couch-to-5K by Active Network – For all you who do better with an end goal in mind, this program is used to motivate you to start slow and get moving up to your 5K goal! If you need a little push daily to get where you ultimately want to be, this one is for you.
- Water your body – We all know hydration is an important part of overall wellness. This app makes a water pouring noise to remind you that you should be filling up that glass of water and drinking it down. I added this one to my phone and within 5 minutes my entire office had the app on their phones.
- Squat Workout!! This is a great personal trainer app, if your goal is to have an encouraging coach who gets you into shape AND allows you to stay out of the public eye. It walks you through a daily workout in the privacy of your home.
Those are my top five favorites, have more that you want to share? Tell me about it! If you can motivate this girl to do more than Swop on my Swopper at work, I want to hear about it.
Jenn Lytle – Director of Customer Service (and no
As a CEO, I feel it’s my job to not only drive the business goals and objectives, but to provide a healthy, stimulating workplace where my employees can thrive. Ultimately, for me, the goal of the office environment is to support a productive, energized, and motivated team.
One of the main ways to accomplish this goal is to have a healthy team. It’s no surprise that a healthy, energized team is also a productive team. The way I see it, health and wellness are the new “Green,” as productivity goes hand in hand with healthy habits and a healthy work environment.
At swopper.com we care about the health and wellness of the individual and see this as the key to creating a productive work environment. While corporations are focusing on providing healthy options for employees, like organic lunches, discounted gym memberships and access to outdoor areas, one thing routinely ignored is the actual office set up.
Employees are given cubicles and standard office chairs to spend 8+ hours in a day. They sit in front of a computer for long stretches, straining both their eyes and their backs. All this sitting leads to weak muscles, poor circulation and of course, lowered productivity.
Think about it, when do you feel you are working your best? When you are energized and moving? Or when you are stationary for prolonged amounts of time? The improved circulation from movement provides mental clarity, improved mood and better focus.
One way you can have an immediate impact on your employee’s productivity is through the use of an ergonomic motion-seating chair, like the swopper, Muvman or 3Dee. When fully utilized, these chairs fight the “Sitting Disease” and all the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
The movement, day-after-day, week-after-week, that these chairs encourage, have a cumulative positive affect on your health and wellness. At the end of the day you feel more refreshed, less fatigued, and ready for what comes next. Both your team and the company benefits as the productivity and overall health of your team improve.
To find out more about how you can provide your team with motion seating options, contact us at 1.855.272.5074.
~Chas Hepler, CEO
Whenever we introduce swopper or one of our other motion seating chairs to someone for the first time, we usually get asked “who thought of this idea?” It’s a question we love to answer, because the story behind the creation of the swopper is genuine, authentic and explains exactly why there is so much passion behind this chair.
The story begins in Germany in 1997. Josef Glockl, a renowned engineer, was spending long days in his office … sitting. Like so many others at the time, Josef used a traditional office chair to do his sitting and pretty soon the negative affects crept in. Despite being active in the evenings through sports, Josef started to suffer with lower back pain, just like 80% of the population in Germany did.
While others suffering from back pain may turn to medications, Josef had a secret weapon to help in his quest to solve his pain … his wife. It was lucky for him, and in the end for so many other people, that Josef’s wife is a renowned physiotherapist and osteopath. Dorothea Prodinger-Glockl knew exactly why Josef was having issues … Josef was sitting far too much.
Dorothea knew that the fact that the majority of the population has a daily pattern of static sitting goes against all of human beings natural patterns of movement. As hunter and gatherer, the human being is made for walking, running, bending and stretching etc. This is good because from the start of man’s history, surviving has involved intensive movement.
But, then came the problem – hours of sitting started to become the predominant activity of the human being. This leads to numerous disorders and at the top of the list – BACK PROBLEMS!!
Together, Josef and Dorothea set out to create a chair that would allow Josef to conduct his work, while remaining active. And so grew the idea of a seat that makes movement possible while sitting and in fact actively encourages movement.
The road from vision to success was long and hard. Years of expensive development work (paid out of his own pocket), the search for a designer competent enough to tackle the unique challenge of technology and form along with the inevitable struggle through bureaucratic red tape.
Josef battled on. He founded the company aeris gmbh, found a backer and a young designer, who helped bring his and Dorothea’s dream into a reality. The first chair to be completed was the swopper, the 3 dimensional active seat. National and international awards and recognition soon followed the introduction of swopper in 1997, with scientific tests and medical reports. Josef Glockl’s perseverance and his belief in his invention were finally paying off.
Then came the muvman, a variable height sit to stand active stool. Most recently introduced is the 3Dee Active-Office-Chair, which takes all the great features of the swopper, and adds some new ones, taking the active sitting philosophy more mainstream.
Success stories in the furniture industry have become rare; even rarer when coupled with genuine innovation. Josef Glockl has managed to achieve both. He has revolutionized sitting with his inventions while achieving true cutting edge innovation.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
The office is one of the last bastions of conformity. Most often, the workforce is tied to the corporate identity, leaving little room for individuality. Outwardly, this can be seen as everyone sitting in the same type of chair, in the same cubicle set up, with the same desk. It is part of the company culture they say. It allows everyone to be treated the same. It is supposed to support harmony, avoid distractions, and enable everyone to focus.
But does it? We all have different work styles. Some prefer absolute silence in order to concentrate, while others like to listen to music. Some like to move, bounce and tap their feet while concentrating, while others sit completely still. Some like to work alone without distractions of their peers, while others benefit from bouncing ideas off coworkers.
At some of today’s most innovative companies, like Google and Apple, individuality in the workplace is supported and employees are given a plethora of options within the workplace to drive productivity. These options include, wifi enabled shuttle buses, coffee shop-types of lunchrooms were you can work all day, hobby rooms, quiet rooms, and even bars where coworkers can mingle. All these are attempts to adapt to employees individual work styles and work preferences.
At Swopper, we want to take this a step further. Even in companies lucky enough to have the kind of themed work areas listed above, employees still end up spending a lot of time at their desks in front of a computer. At the desk is where we need options, flexibility, and the freedom to choose what we are going to sit on for 8 hours a day. This is where a real difference in productivity is made.
We see an opportunity to help companies work with employees to customize their workspace to improve wellbeing and productivity. Swopper and Muvman provide healthy, productive, fun, and comfortable seating solutions that meet the needs of every type of worker, including those that prefer a traditional office chair with more movement, a height adjustable stool for a stand up desk set up, a light stool that can travel with them around to various rooms and on and on.
In addition to helping provide staff with options for how they want to sit during the day, motion-seating chairs like Swopper and Muvman, provide health and wellness benefits that increase productivity, lower insurance claims and make for happier employees.
Everyone likes to choose and have the freedom to decide what they are going to sit on for 8 plus hours a day, so maybe it’s time for more cutting edge companies to encourage their employees to break the “traditional” office chair mold, and start providing more options.
Just imagine the smiles you’d see at a company where everyone was bouncing, swaying and tilting vs sitting stationary for eight hours a day.
~ Chas Hepler, CEO and workplace non-conformist
We have known for years that the Swopper three dimensional motion stool was light years ahead of its time in North America. While consumers and businesses found it intriguing, it was often viewed as a novelty or just a really cool, fun looking stool.
Well, I’m happy to say that the past few years have started to reveal a whole new appreciation for this funky, fun, yet healthy motion stool. We have seen more and more articles about the dangers of sitting in the media, a mass acceptance of alternative seating options and professional industries begin to think critically about the benefits of motion for their employees.
One industry that has picked up on the motion-seating trend at a faster rate than others has been the healthcare industry. When hospitals start placing orders for hundreds of Swoppers for their nurses, you know tides are shifting in favor of healthier workplaces. We have been encouraged to see that finally, one industry truly gets the health and wellness benefits of motion seating, and is being proactive instead of re-active to their own employees’ health. We refer to it as “Caring for the Caregivers.”
Here are some of the healthcare occupations or industries we’ve seen embrace Swopper recently:
- Chiropractors – Swopper has been recommended for years by chiropractors looking for additional resources to help their clients alleviate low back pain. They love the motion aspect of the chair, and also the fact that using the Swopper maintains the natural “S” curve of your spine while seated, and opens the hip/spine angle.
- Kinesiologists – Kinesiology is “the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.” Based on that, these people truly understand the idea motion and how great it is for the whole body – joints, muscles, mental etc. I recently did a tradeshow for the American College of Sport Medicine, which was attended by many kinesiologists. It was the first show I’ve ever done, where I didn’t have to do much explaining about Swopper. All they had to do was try it and they knew exactly what it could do for the body and mind.
- Physical Therapists – Swopper has been recommended by many physical therapists, especially those with patients who have knee or hip issues. Simple, subtle, intuitive motion can have a dramatic effect for someone rehabbing a knee or hip. If you’re keeping those joints and muscles moving, they have fewer tendencies to tighten up.
- Insurance Companies – We’ve seen an emerging trend from insurance companies that are recommending Swopper and Muvman to their own clients. Their aim is to be proactive to limit workers comp and try to get employees back to work faster and safer. Many times these workers need to adopt a whole new work style and our chairs can help with that.
Swopper has also been endorsed by:
- Dr. Stephen Hochschuler – Orthopedic Surgeon at the Texas Back Institute
- Dr. Dieter Breithecker – World renown expert on posture and motion
It’s been exciting for us at Swopper to see the healthcare industry get behind the benefits of motion seating. The fact that today’s leaders in health and wellness recognize the importance of staying active throughout the day shows that the future of workplace wellbeing is headed in the right direction.
Do you work in the Healthcare industry? If so, have you witnessed a shift in how your workplace approaches health & wellness for their employees? Leave a comment and let us know about your experience.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
Sitting at work is a modern invention. Up to about 200 years ago, sedentary activities were primarily reserved only for persons of high standing like pharaohs, emperors and kings. The human being moved in the course of work, stood still or squatted. Only about 50 years ago did hours of sitting become part of daily life at work … a development that has taken our bodies off guard.
We move too little and sit too much. Even that well-meant bit of sport in our free time in the evenings and at weekends does not always effectively compensate hours of sitting at the desk or in front of a PC. Research has shown that exercising for 30 minutes per day isn’t enough to offset a typical office worker’s level of inactivity. In the course of a working life we spend about 80,000 hours sitting. Global studies show, on average, we sit 7.7 hours a day, and some results estimate people sit up to 15 hours a day.
So what’s the result of all this sitting? Chronic back pain, slipped disks, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more have all been linked to being sedentary for too long during the day. One 2012 analysis, that looked at the findings from 18 studies, found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.
That’s why businesses around the globe, which are focused on health & wellbeing, have zeroed in on helping their workers incorporate movement into their workday. Studies show, the key to using movement to improve your health, is to make sure you do it frequently throughout the day.
Five Ways to Stay Active While at Work:
- Get up and stand every 15 minutes: The act of standing up from a seated position has been found particularly effective at counteracting the detrimental health effects of sitting. Stretching your muscles once an hour brings blood flow back to all your extremities increasing the oxygen in your body. Think you can’t get up because you are just too busy? Just set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you.
- Buy a chair built for motion: Get active while sitting at your desk with an active office chair, like the Swopper or Muvman.
These chairs offer three dimensions of motion i.e. vertical bounce, lateral sway and forward tilt – all simultaneously and intuitively. Eight hours a day on a Swopper chair can deliver more motion than you would get on a bike ride or a hike at the weekend, with the added benefit of doing it while you work.
- Make your office set-up slightly inconvenient. Take that printer off your desk and put it in the back of the office. While you’re at it, request the desk farthest from the kitchen. Or do some lunges on the way back to picking up your very important papers. In a world of convenience, making things slightly inconvenient in terms of proximity can provide ample opportunities to move throughout the day.
- Create walking meetings. Next time you have a one-on-one scheduled with a coworker, suggest doing the meeting while walking around the building or better yet, outside. You’ll benefit from the increased blood flow, circulation and vitamin D.
- Stretch at your desk. When we sit, our muscles become tight, sore and tense. Stand several times a day at your desk and complete the following five stretches to give your muscles a much needed break from sitting:
- Standing Neck Stretch: Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Round your shoulders, then pull them back and pull down. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
- Standing Hip Stretch: Holding on to your desk, cross your left leg over your right thigh and “sit down” by bending your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
- Open Chest Stretch: Sit near the edge of a chair and interlace your fingers behind you, with your palms facing your back. Leaning slightly forward, lift your arms and rest them on the back of the chair. Inhale and lift your chest. Exhale and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Side Lunge: Starting with your feet together, take a step sideways, and bend down as if you’re about to sit. Use your arms for balance by reaching out in front of you. Return to starting position.
Finding ways to incorporate movement into your workday can help offset the physical and health hazards sitting for long periods of time can bring. If you work an office job, making a conscious effort to focus on movement, posture and exercise is one of the most effective ways to ensure your job isn’t hurting your health and well-being.
~ Jenn Lytle, Customer Service Director & Social Marketing