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Phys Ther. 2002 Jun;82(6):578-89.

Short-term effects of workstation exercises on musculoskeletal discomfort and postural changes in seated video display unit workers.

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School of Physiotherapy, Dalhousie University, Forrest Bldg, 5869 University Ave, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3J5.



In recent years, a number of exercise programs have been developed for computer operators in order to promote movement and to reduce musculoskeletal discomfort. Tests of the effectiveness of these exercise programs, especially in field trials, are rare. The authors tested the hypothesis that doing regular, short-term (<10 days) exercises while at a workstation would decrease musculoskeletal discomfort and increase in-chair movement (ICM).


Eleven directory assistance operators (8 female, 3 male) with no recent history of musculoskeletal problems volunteered.


In-chair movement was measured by tracking the center of pressure at the buttock-chair interface as subjects sat on a pressure-sensitive mat. Musculoskeletal discomfort was rated through the use of the Body Part Discomfort Scale (BPDS) and a body map. We used a revised Dataspan exercise program. Operators were tested for 2 hours, on 2 occasions: before and after doing exercises for 3- to 5-day shifts. During each test, ICM was measured during three 15-minute periods at the start of the test and at the end of hours 1 and 2. Subjects rated musculoskeletal discomfort per body part using the BPDS at 30, 60, and 120 minutes of each test. The effects of exercises on ICM and BPDS ratings were examined with a two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance with day (2) x time (3) designs.


When subjects were doing their exercises, ICM was higher at the start and hour 1, and perceived discomfort was lower during each test period (start, hour 1, and hour 2). When not exercising, subjects' musculoskeletal discomfort increased over time and was higher during all test periods.


Exercises done by video display unit operators while at a workstation resulted in short-term decreases in both musculoskeletal discomfort and postural immobility. These results suggest that workstation exercises may be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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