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Office fitness – quite incidentally

Office work is not necessarily synonymous with exercise and fitness. And yet special surfaces that encourage movement make them both possible. They activate the calf and foot muscles including the ankles and help to prevent fatigue. In other words: fitness and exercise – quite incidentally.

More exercise reduces health risks

Sitting is as bad as smoking, thus putting office work on the same level as one of the greatest health risks. Nor is this claim all that absurd: after all, sitting for hours has many negative effects on the back, blood vessels, heart and inner organs. There is a risk of various diseases such as diabetes or cancer, and sitting can also be detrimental to life expectancy.

So what can the millions of people do who earn their living in an office? Perhaps you've already come across the concept of dynamic standing/sitting? In addition there are also many other possibilities for encouraging more movement and exercise in the office workplace, without even having to leave the office. Standing not only becomes more pleasant but also makes us fitter: good for body and soul.

Floor mat

A special floor mat is an excellent possibility in this respect. It measures about half a square metre in size and is laid out at the standing/sitting workplace.

Quality criteria include high stability at the same time as being flexible to handle. The floor mat should be easy to shift in position. A resilient, elastic foam stepping area is just as beneficial as a robust surface. Inside, the mat should preferably have a 3D structure with small hills and valleys so that moving on it is like standing and walking on natural ground, reminiscent for example of walking on a forest floor.

Standing on the floor mat thus generates an almost imperceptible instability that stimulates compensatory movements in the body. This prevents rigid standing so that the muscles do not get tired and the legs do not swell. Unconscious changes in posture turn passive standing into active standing.

Here experts refer to the random activation of reflex zones and the sensory system. Many small, deep muscles in the feet, legs and torso have to contract and relax all the time to hold the body in balance.

These additional micro and macro movements have a verifiably positive impact on health: better circulation, more venous activity in the legs, more active metabolism. Another positive effect consists in improved concentration levels in the workplace, with delayed onset of fatigue symptoms.

Activation board

Another possibility for more movement in the standing and sitting workplace consists of a so-called activation board. This is a corrugated floor plate with special material characteristics to give it a certain flexibility. When someone stands on it, it automatically triggers safe, simple movement.

Walking on the spot becomes child's play because the same muscle groups are activated as when we walk. The benefits include all the positive effects of walking normally. All muscular chains in the body are triggered, from head to foot. Experts use the expression tensegrity model in this context.

Tensegrity model

Our body is a clever system of muscular chains, stabilising ligaments and intelligent joint systems that all work together. If individual groups of muscles or parts of muscles are damaged or weakened, this causes muscular dysbalance. The otherwise smooth cooperation between the body structures no longer works.

The activation board counteracts muscular dysbalance. The tilting movements are adjusted in such careful doses that no-one loses balance.

Checklist

  •  Secure stability and a non-slip surface are criteria that have to be fulfilled by floor coverings, floor mats and also activation boards for feet and legs.
  • Circulation supported and encouraged, particularly in the lower extremities: this activates the so-called muscular or venous pump. In other words, muscular movements compress the veins running deep in the muscles, improving the flow of blood back to the  middle of the body. The onset of fatigue systems can thus be delayed while the powers of concentration last longer.
  • Floor mat large enough to offer sufficient freedom of movement. With an activation board, the feet take up a certain position and remain in constant contact with the board while it moves. By contrast, floor mat users frequently change the position of their feet. The floor mat should therefore be large enough to allow for smaller movements without having to leave the mat.
  • An uneven structure and shock-absorbing properties in the floor mat activate special depth sensors in muscles, tendons and joints. This trains the sense of balance and enhances the ability to stand.
  • An exercise manual turns an activation board into a training board. Ideally, it provides illustrations of the exercises.

Minimum requirements

  • Stable position
  • Non-slip surface
  • Easy to move
  • Stimulates muscles in feet and legs
  • Supports circulation (muscle / venous pump
  • Supports spontaneous changes in position
  • Relieves pressure on the joints
  • Flexible in use
  • Floor mat also: generous standing area
  • Floor mat also: prevent stumbling hazard

Also appropriate

  • Activation board: can also be used as training board
  • Activation board: illustrated description of exercises

Products in this sector with the AGR seal of approval

Manufacturer

aeris GmbH*
Hans-Stießberger-Straße 2a
85540 Haar bei München
GERMANY
Phone: +49 89/12 50 18 710
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.active-office.de

Ergotrading GmbH**
Heisterfeld 11
25489 Haselau
GERMANY
Phone +49 40/30 96 92 26
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.my-gymba.de

Pictures

Activation board for standing movement

Floor mats as part of the motion-promoting screen workstation

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