The Claim: Replacing Your Desk Chair With an Exercise Ball can Improve Your Posture
The most popular article in Ergonomics Today™, day in and day out, is Opinion: Balls as Office Chairs a Bad Idea. Roughly 5,000 readers per month, month after month, access this article. Google, Wikipedia and Bing alone sent some 40,000 searchers to read it in the past year. (You can also read many other articles and Ergoweb Forum discussions on ergoweb.com that touch on the balls-as-chairs topic.). It was published in 2005 and is due for an update, so I was interested to see The New York Times publish a short piece on using balls as chair. According to the author, Anahad O’Connor:
Exercise balls are becoming a popular alternative to plain old office chairs, a way — some say — to burn more calories and improve posture.
The increase in the calorie burn is real but small …
But as far as posture is concerned, there is not exactly a compelling body of evidence …
THE BOTTOM LINE Sitting on an exercise ball burns more energy than sitting on an office chair, but the evidence that it improves posture is lacking.
This topic pairs well with this week’s The Ergonomics Report article that reviews a research study that found performance degradations when computer operators worked at so called active computer workstations that incorporate treadmills and stationary bicycles.
2nd Edition of Ergonomic Checkpoints Now Available
If you’ve never seen the book Ergonomic Checkpoints, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the newly released second edition. If you already have a copy, you might want to upgrade to this new addition. It’s a straight-to-the-point, application oriented approach to principles of ergonomics and is suitable for all levels of ergonomics knowledge. It’s particularly useful for anyone promoting participatory ergonomics approaches. Plus, if I’m not mistaken, your purchase provides some financial support to the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), who collaborated with the ILO in writing the book.
Mark Your Calendar: 18th World Congress on Ergonomics in Brazil (2012)
Speaking of IEA, I also encourage you to start saving your pennies, centavos – or whatever you call your local coinage – for the IEA’s 18th World Congress on Ergonomics, to be held in Recife, Brazil, February 12-16, 2012. This is sure to be one of the largest gatherings for ergonomics on record. And just by chance (actually, by very wise planning), the conference will take place the week before Carnival, a world renowned celebration that the Brazilians take to a festive level all their own. The conference itself is reason enough to go, of course, but I’ll be staying for Carnival, as well. I can hardly wait! See you there!
The congress will be a joint conference with ULAERGO – Union of Latin-American Ergonomics Society and ABERGO – Brazilian Ergonomics Association. ABERGO is the official host of the Congress. Visit the 18th World Congress on Ergonomics web site to learn more.
October is Global Ergonomics Month
Speaking of IEA again, they have designated October as Global Ergonomics Month. There are at least two websites dedicated to regional efforts to promote ergonomics, including The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s National Ergonomics Month web site and a section of the Federation of European Ergonomics Society’s (FEES) web site. The purpose of Global is to focus on promoting human factors/ergonomics to corporate executives, students, and the general public by providing information and services to the community.
Ergoweb does this every day, month, and year — why wait for October!?
1st Federation of European Ergonomics Societies Conference
FEES is also holding the 1st FEES Conference, October 10-12, in Bruges, Belgium. The theme of the conference is “Ergonomics in and for Europe / Quality of Life: Social, Economic & Ergonomic Challenges for Ageing People at Work.” I wish our European friends and colleagues success with their conference – wish I could be there, too.