Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Stand up for wellness

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson) Staff Sgt. Rooshell McCullough, 21st Space Wing Equal Opportunity Office, works at her stand up desk station. These stations were purchased in an effort to promote better health in the work place. Standing at work can help ease back pain and increase a person’s metabolic rate.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — People who walk by and peer into the 21st Space Wing Equal Opportunity office will see something a little unusual.

“I stand up about 90 percent of the time,” said Rex Jones, 21st Space Wing Equal Opportunity director.

The result of all this standing is a new ergonomic desk system several people in Building 350 are having installed. The desk attachment raises and lowers the workstation, giving workers the option to sit or stand.

Stand-up desks are no new phenomenon. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Donald Rumsfeld are all known to have a standing desk.

“The truth is, we as a nation sit too much. There’s a lot of ailments attributed to all that sitting,” Jones said.

Jones and Staff Sgt. Rooshell McCullough ordered the stand-up desks with the Air Force’s focus on Fit to Fight in mind.

“We considered the health of the staff, and we wanted to try something new. The hope was that this would increase productivity,” Jones said.

There are many health reasons for standing more and sitting less. Jennifer Crowley, Health and Wellness Center exercise physiologist, said she sees a lot of profiles for back problems. “When they’re standing, as opposed to having that chair where you can just relax, they’re using that muscle structure,” she said.

It seems backward to many, Crowley said, who would think because of their back trouble they should be sitting. As long as the progression from sitting to standing is made gradually, it helps strengthen core muscles.

Renae Pollard, small business assistant for the 21st Space Wing, said she suffers from back problems as a result of the time she’s spent sitting at work. Pollard is waiting for her ergonomic desk to be installed.

“My husband and I get up to walk because we’ve been sitting down so long,” Pollard said, and believes the new design will make her more productive.

Pollard said she thinks the new set up will also make her more social. She said she currently sends emails when she should walk to someone’s work area. “We need to get better,” she said.

McCullough agrees the new arrangement makes it easier to move around. “To me, it’s more natural than pulling out a chair, sitting down, getting comfortable, getting back up,” she said.

McCullough said it takes a while to get used to standing, but since the adjustment period, she’s had no problems. “I rarely sit,” she said.

An ergonomic desk system can also have an impact on those who have to sit. Douglas Phillips, chief financial analysis operator, has to sit in a supine position in his wheelchair. “Right now, I don’t feel I’m as effective because I’m constantly leaning back, and I can’t see my screen very well,” Phillips said.

The new arrangement will include a raised desk that Phillips can fit his wheelchair under and a monitor stand that leans forward so he can work more comfortably and won’t have to strain to see. “It’s hard sitting up,” he said.

For more information about the ergonomic desk system, call 556-7691.

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