Staying In Work Shape During A Pandemic

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 pushups200 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.

me sandbagRight 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 quin@njergonomics.com.

Friday Five – 3/10/17

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.

The news media this morning had several stories noting that beginning in July medical residents may work consecutively from 16 hours to 24 hours.  Interestingly, there were many medical residents that were in favor of this change.   Taking this change to resident’s shifts and the upcoming changing of the clocks for Daylight Saving Time, this Friday Five is focused on shift work.

Some residents looked forward to the increased hours as a way of reducing mid-case handoff of ER cases due to hitting the 16 hour mark.  A research letter by Charlie Wray, DO et al. in JAMA looked at handoff policies for residents at hospitals as implemenation of these practices, despite guidelines, is left to each hospital to implement.

A study published last year investigated the effect of hours per week worked by an admitting resident on patient outcomes.  It found that individuals admitted by residents working 80+ hours per week had longer hospital stays and more ICU transfers than those admitted by residents working less than 80 hours per week.  However, there did not appear to be a relationship between hours worked and 30 day readmission rates or in-hospital mortality rates.

Fernando and Roswell looked at the work performed during nursing shifts and noted that the types of work and volume of work performed varied through a 24 hour work cycle.  They note that the scheduling of shifts needs to take type of work and work volume into account.

Two older studies looked at the incidence of work related injuries following onset of Daylight Saving Time.  A study of American mine workers found an increase in injuries on the Monday following the start of DST and a decrease in total sleep for that night by 40 minutes.  A Canadian study found no statistical relationship between injuries and the onset of DST.

Interestingly,  researchers found that the rate of ischemic strokes increases during the first two days after the onset of daylight saving time.

 

Friday Five – 1/27/17

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 article by NHL defenseman Bryce Salvador discusses the changes in both behaviors and attitudes that he had to make following a concussion after being hit in the head with a puck at 90 miles per hour.

Steven Dubner of Freakonomics and Freakonomics radio did a two episode series on the economics of sleep.  It covers a lot of interesting areas that are impacted by the amount and quality of sleep.  While it’s broad in scope, it isn’t a deep dive into all of  the areas.  There’s some brief discussion of safety and productivity/efficiency.  Episode 1 provides an introduction to the issues of sleep and overall economics and Episode 2 looks a little bit more into timing of sleep and quality with a quick discussion with Heather Schofield who is doing some interesting research into the affect of sleep on data entry jobs.

Sometimes job training needs to start before you get the job.  The Kessler Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Michigan to look at virtual reality based training modules to help youth with disabilities become more confident with their actions when interviewing for a job.  (As a quick disclosure, I used to work for the Kessler Foundation within their research division a long time ago).

Researchers in Canada are beginning to dig deeper into a fairly large set of data on construction workers to determine the differences between injury rates between unionized and non-unionized construction workers.

Besides the science that goes into the ballistic properties of bullet proof vests, there is a lot of ergonomics that goes into determining which vests work better at allowing personnel to be able to accurately and effectively perform job tasks.  Issues looked at include heat generation/dissipation, performance in obstacle courses, and more. Employees and end users should look to make sure that the issued vests are able to suitably perform all aspects of the job.