The newest extension of federal physical distancing guidelines now extends until the end of April. For many, that means that they may be out of work for six or more weeks before returning to work. When we return to work after a vacation, it can take a couple of days to get back into “work shape” but most vacations are only a week or two in duration. Six weeks is a lot longer but with a few tips, we can stay healthy and maintain fitness levels to be ready to return to work.
- Gyms are closed but there are lots of choices that you can make. Walking is a great choice, especially if you job involves walking on a daily basis. There are many great apps that you can download onto a tablet or a smartphone that will help guide you through a home based, body weight work out. If your job involves lifting and carrying, you may have objects in your garage, shed, or yard that you can pickup and carry in the yard to simulate work type tasks. If you don’t have a weight set but want to do slightly more formal lifting, you can build your own sandbags. Sandbags can be used to simulate many gym movements. Find some steps to climb or a walking route with a hill to maintain/build leg strength. YouTube and Amazon Prime both have plenty of exercise videos that you can use for guided workouts.
- You Are Your Own Gym is a great app, developed by an Air Force Pararescue NCO, for an at home workout that does not require any fancy equipment. We have recommended this app to several firefighters in the past who didn’t like the gym and they loved it.
- A couple of simpler one exercise apps are 100 pushups, 200 situps, and 200 squats. They work to build up the amount of repetitions you can do of each exercise. A pre-test serves as a baseline to guide workouts. My advice is to deduct a couple of reps from your pre-test when giving the app the information to build the workouts.
- Maintain good sleep hygiene. A lack of sleep can compromise your immune system. Set a regular bed time and wake time. There is a great TED Talk on sleep by Matthew Walker as well as a great podcast interview series between him and Peter Attia, MD. Freakonomics did a great podcast on the economics of sleep.
- Eat healthy. This is admittedly tricky with limited selection at the food stores as well as potential per customer limits on certain products. Try to limit the amount of processed foods for main meals and limit the unhealthy snacking choices during the down time between meals. If you can, try to make sure that you pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables with each food run at the store.
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy when you are sitting at home to either not drink enough or to drink the wrong things. But make sure that you are getting enough water and limit the soft drinks.
- Don’t Overdo the Exercise. If you regularly train, either strength or cardio, this is not the time to be working towards a PB in a strength exercise or a PR in an event. Don’t go out and try to win KOM honors on Strava for your daily ride. Super intense workouts that leave you beat up for a day or two tend to weaken the immune system a little. This is a time for people who regularly exercise/train to work on base building and work on correcting any weaknesses that they may have.
Right now, I’ve been walking my talk while I’ve been working from home. We have been trying to be good about what we are eating in our house and have tried to stay to the healthier food in our every 7-10 day food runs. This helps limit the in between meal snacking. I’ve been doing some sort of exercise every day, getting the kids out for long walks or bike rides. Some of the workouts are mine alone such as kettlebell workouts, rides on my bike on the trainer, and I am starting to work my way through a deck of Bruteforce Sandbag workout cards that I had received as a stocking stuffer from my wife. Stay safe, be smart, and wash your hands.
If you have any questions about what type of exercises are appropriate to stay in work shape for a particular type of job, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors. For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.
Diane Gyi et al. have created a new anthropometry data set for plus sized workers. With increasing obesity levels, this new dataset is very important as many of the original data sets that were utilized were based on measurements of military personnel. A course from The Back School on ergonomics for plus sized workers was a good reminder for me that this category requires some different ergonomic considerations because there are some different biomechanical needs when setting up or correcting workstations. It was also a good reminder that this category is not necessarily about obesity – the plus sized worker category includes anyone that is outside of the normative data sets, regardless of the reason why they fall outside of the normative data. (When I originally took the course, it reminded me of The Incredibles when Bob tries to become a non-super hero, stuffing himself into the small car or into his cubicle at work).
Dominique Larouche et al. look at the issue of safe handling techniques for paramedics when transferring patients from stair chairs to stretchers. One of the interesting points is that they believe that training needs to be oriented more towards the ability to adapt work techniques based on the environment and on the work teammates.
Joshua Zheng Rui Ting et al. investigated the effect of an ergonomics/exercise intervention compared to an ergonomics/health promotion intervention on workability levels in the office worker population. For the general population, there was no significant difference in results. But for a subgroup of office workers who reported neck pain (greater than 3/10 at start of study), the ergonomics and exercise intervention group demonstrated trending improvements in workability when compared to the ergonomics/health promotion group, if they completed at least 70% of the exercise sessions.
Peter Love et al. dealt with the difficulties in establishing operational guidelines for construction safety when the information on injuries is not readily available to use to set best practice guidelines.
Kaitlin Gallagher et al. noted that walking breaks can help to reduce low back pain that is induced by prolonged standing. Walking and moving is something that I have been an advocate of for a long time. Walking is not only great to break up prolonged postures (sitting or standing) but the overall movement is helpful for preventing other health issues as well.
The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors. For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product.
This week’s Friday Five is going to be focused on healthcare providers.
Surgery is a physically demanding task for the surgical team. Being that surgeons are people too, they come to work with some of the same nagging aches and pains that all of have. This study by Susan Hallbeck et al. looked at the impact of surgeons taking small breaks to stretch and exercise during surgeries longer than 2.5 hours or more than 4 hours of cumulative surgery during an op day. Participating surgeons noted a significant reduction in shoulder pain and felt that the microbreaks were not distracting to surgical performance.
In relation to the above mentioned paper, researchers in Italy looked at the postures and positions related to surgical performance. For those in the realm of ergonomics, it is no surprise that the ability to control the height of the surgical table reduces the risk of musculoskeletal complaints.
Researchers looked at the human factors involved in performance of nursing tasks and developed a methodology that increased direct patient contact time which resulted in a reduction in missing medicines which caused a decrease in lost time in tracking down medications. It’s important to look at the way we do things and determine what makes our jobs easier and what tasks take away from being able to perform our primary functions.
The last two papers today involve Neal Wiggerman from Hill-Rom. The first paper looks at the impact of the placement of brake pedals and hand controls on hospital beds and the required forces to manipulate the bed.
The second paper looks at the impact of powered drive units of bariatric beds for pushing, pulling, maneuvering into elevators, controlling ramp descents, and stopping when compared to non-powered bariatric beds. The powered units demonstrate significant impacts across the spectrum. It was nice to see the inclusion of controlling the descent on ramps. We have performed on-site measurements in several hospitals and this is an area that is often forgotten as many hospitals don’t have significant ramps. However, when we were measuring demands for patient transporters at a hospital in Philadelphia, the hospital was comprised of several buildings purchased at different times on a hilly property. As the hospital acquired the buildings, connecting ramps were built as none of the buildings had floors at corresponding heights. Due to the ramps, pushing and pulling forces in this hospital had a 25% greater requirement than in similar hospitals with no intra-floor ramps.