County Commissioner Standing Up For Healthier Lifestyle

By
Steve Robb - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Wed, Jan 8, 2014 5:10 pm
Photo Credit: 
Steve Robb - Athens Messenger

Chris Chmiel no doubt wants to be a stand-up county commissioner, but lately he's been an Athens County commissioner who is standing up.

Chmiel is foregoing use of a chair in his office and at commissioners' meetings in hopes of cutting calories and being healthier.

"I feel better," Chmiel said on Tuesday, his fifth no-chair day.

"I mean my feet hurt, but my mid-section feels better," he clarified, patting his stomach.

Seem far-fetched?

There's research that indicates that spending less time sitting, even if you're not out there jogging, can make you healthier — although not sitting and exercising is even better.

Researchers for the American Cancer Society concluded that time spent sitting was independently associated with mortality, regardless of physical activity. They concluded that public health messages should promote both physical activity and reducing time spent sitting, according to an American Cancer Society news release.

Doing office work while standing — using what's referred to as a standing desk — is an idea that's gained popularity in recent years.

"Sitting can be very detrimental to your health," said Kim Valentour, director of Wellworks at Ohio University. While she doesn't profess to be an expert on standing desk usage, she has had a standing work station in her office for about two years and has experienced a change in how she feels physically.

"For me, the health benefits are a lot less body aches," Valentour said. "I feel much better. I have a lot more energy and my body just feels less tight. I feel more flexible."

Chmiel said he plans to stick with standing.

"Oh yeah, I'm going for it — for sure," Chmiel said.

Chmiel has his office computer on top of a cardboard box on top of his desk, so that he can use the computer while standing.

Ruth Dudding, health educator at the Athens City-County Health Department, has been using a standing desk for about a year and a half. She also has a makeshift arrangement — she has her computer on a metal cabinet.

"There are some things you need to pay attention to," Dudding said, noting that the computer screen should be at eye level, so that you are not looking up or down, and your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when using the keyboard.

Marty Dagostino, an ergonomist at OU, said that standing for expended periods of time can be stressful for people not used to it, so he recommends easing into it. Also, buying an anti-fatigue floor mat to stand on can help.

Standing desk equipment can be purchased, for those who don't want to improvise their set-up.

Dudding said that she has found that using a standing desk causes her to move around more.

Also, Dudding said she was experiencing some hip pain that has gone away since switching to a standing desk.

"It's great, I love it," Dudding said. "I just realized how much I was sitting and I know sitting isn't healthy."

Chmiel said he might also promote the standing desk idea to other county workers as part of the county's wellness program.

 

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