The chair that's a pain in the butt

Last updated 15:03 04/12/2012
BUMS ON SEATS: Sitting for large portions of the day is associated with poor health outcomes.

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How would you feel about your office chair rudely interrupting your work to remind you to get off your  butt?

Australian researchers concerned about desk-bound office workers' physical health have developed the alarming cushion, which  is essentially a 'sitting pad' complete with an alarm that alerts its user to their sedentary behaviour.

A team from the University of Queensland's human movement studies research team developed the device to remind workers to  stand up more often. PhD student Gemma Ryde said too many hours spent sitting down could lead to health problems including heart disease, diabetes,  obesity and back, neck, wrist and shoulder injuries.

''Sitting for large portions of the day is associated with poor health outcomes and a reduced life expectancy, even for those  people who might be considered physically active,'' Ms Ryde said in a statement.

She said the device accurately recorded the time employees spent sitting down and getting up from their desk, using a medical grade pressure sensor and custom-built microcontroller.

A mechanism built into the sensor can be set to sound an alarm  if the person has been sitting down for a predetermined amount of time.The alarm stops when the person stands but reactivates if they  sit down again within a couple of seconds.

A study carried out by the researchers using the device found employees spent over two-thirds of their work time sitting at a desk. By measuring the workplace behaviour, effective interventions could be designed to improve employee health and wellbeing.


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