Whether we’re in the office, behind the wheel or at home in front of the TV – we sit too much and for too long. According to a survey conducted by the German market research institute GfK on behalf of the health insurer DKV and the Sport University Cologne, we spend an average of 450 minutes or 7.5 hours sitting on workdays. General tips such as regularly standing up and getting some exercise are simply not enough. Sitting correctly and ensuring that seating furniture supports correct sitting posture is vital.
Adjustable backrests promote dynamic sitting. © Wilkhahn
Yet while we can design our homes to suit our own personal tastes, workplace furniture may sometimes be out of our hands. “But at the very least employees have a right to have say in these decisions; there are also guidelines that recommend ergonomic furniture in office workplaces,” explains Jochen Winning, Managing Director of the German Furniture Quality Assurance Association (DGM/ Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel). Height-adjustable desk chairs, for example, have been standard in most offices for years. The seat height should be adjustable between 42 and 53 centimetres. The ideal height for each individual is achieved when the bend in the knees is 90° or more, and the feet are flat on the floor. The angle between the upper body and the thighs should be considerably greater than 90°, despite what is often incorrectly assumed. An adjustable backrest and seat are therefore essential for ideal sitting posture – especially because they promote dynamic sitting.
Height-adjustable desks could help to reduce the strain on the back. © String Furniture
Standing up regularly is even better for the spine than active sitting: walking to the printer, for instance, or taking phone calls while standing up. Height-adjustable desks enable stand-up working, which reduces the strain on the back. In general, desks should ideally measure 160 x 80 centimetres and provide at least 58 centimetres of legroom on all sides.
At the Orgatec in Cologne chairs can be tested. © Koelnmesse
When working on a computer, the distance from the screen should be 50 to 70 centimetres, and the screen should be slightly raised. It should be in a line with the keyboard, the mouse and the desk chair to prevent tension in the head and neck area. And to round up, here is a final tip on a different note: when choosing desk surfaces, opt for light and matt. Strong colour contrasts, such as white paper on a black surface, and reflective glare are more tiring on the eyes.
Cover photo: © Actiu