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Body At Work: Stimulate Your Body While Sitting

Our bodies were not meant for sedentary work, however majority of jobs require you to sit behind a computer screen for long hours each day. Population is not aware of the full extent of the negative impact of sedentary lifestyle on physical and mental health. Swiss-French designer Charlotte Therre has developed 'Body At Work', a series of six tools to activate and strengthen the body’s muscles while seated at your work desk, allowing workers to stimulate the body without interrupting productivity.

Author: Siphilele Magagula

Image: Courtesy of Ronald Smits for Charlotte Therre Studio

The Body At Work, developed by Eindhoven Design Academy graduate Charlotte Therre, is a set of tools to optimize the experience of sitting at a desk by stimulating muscles which are typically dormant during sitting - all this without disrupting workflow. These tools have been designed using knowledge from physiological and medical consultations, as well along as primary research conducted in offices.

What Happens To The Body When You Sit All Day?

Prolonged sitting puts the body in an inactive position, blocking the course of natural body functions which cause serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Research shows that people who sit more have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke and 112 percent increased risk of diabetes. Recent studies also suggest that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of certain types of cancer, such as lung, uterine, and colon cancers.

Sitting for too long can also impact mental health as studies suggest that the risk of depression and anxiety are higher among people that sit for prolonged periods of time, perhaps due to the lack of mental health benefits experienced through exercise.

The physical impacts of sitting on your body include:

  • Weak Legs & Glutes: Sitting for prolonged periods of time does not require use of your lower limbs as your body is fully supported by the chair, this causes muscle atrophy - the weakening of these powerful lower body muscles, leaving your body at risk of injury.

  • Stiff Shoulders and Neck: Like your lower body your shoulders and neck are negatively affected by sitting, in this case mainly due to posture. If you sit with your back hunched over while staring at your computer screen your shoulders and neck tend to stiffen.

  • Tight Hips and a Bad Back: Bad posture can also affect your hips and back. Sitting causes the shortening of your hip flexor muscles, causing tightness. Bad posture while sitting can also cause compression on the discs in your spine, which can lead to premature degeneration, resulting in chronic pain.

How can design help reduce health problems related to prolonged sitting?

How 'Body At Work' Affects Your Physical and Mental Health

Image: Courtesy of Ronald Smits for Charlotte Therre Studio

The Body At Work tools are said to prevent both physical and mental stressors:

Stick: This stick allows you to stretch your antagonist muscles. The areas activated include the trapezoids, spine and abdominal muscles.

Band: Using the band to stretch the neck, arms and legs helps to release muscle tension. Areas activated included the neck, ankles, wrists, shoulders, upper leg muscles and the forearms.

Roll: Rolling this tool under your feet while in a seated position is said to strengthen the spine. Areas activated also include leg joints and abdominal muscles.

Ball: Clenching the ball in the hand helps to strengthen the wrists, while simultaneously releasing tension. Areas activated include the upper arm muscles, shoulders, wrists and carpal tendons (helping prevent carpal tunnel syndrome)

Cone: Use the cone as an acupressure massage tool to massage areas with tension, such as the face, neck and back. Acupressure is an ancient Chinese practice which applies the same principles as acupuncture which promotes mental wellness and is said to also treat physical ailments. Acupressure uses gentle to firm finger pressure in the pressure points. Stimulation of these pressure points releases muscle tension and promotes blood circulation muscular.

Video: Courtesy of Charlotte Therre Studio

The Body At Work is an innovative solution which provides workers with concrete alternatives to limit the negative impact of prolonge sitting, keeping their bodies and minds stimulated while firmly supported by the chair - a beloved cultural symbol.

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