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Behind 8sense | 5 min Lesezeit

Medical background of 8sense – our evidence-based approach

Verfasst von Theresia Lechner

Is the 8sense just another well-being product that cannot stand up to scientific analysis? And why is the 8sense so important for people who spend a lot of time sitting down anyway? For skeptics, medical experts and anyone wanting to delve deeper into the topic, we explain in this article what medical background the 8sense is based on.

The problem: we’ll sit it out

Out of 41.5 million people in employment in Germany, more than half spend most of their working day in front of a screen. These people spend up to 11 hours per day sitting down [1]. On top of this, these hours are, above all, made up of continuous motionless sitting [8].

Consequently, our energy consumption over a working day has decreased by a whole 20% since 1960 (which equates to 175 kcal per day). In fact, current predictions estimate that, by 2030, our energy consumption will have decreased by up to 35% compared to 1960 [8].

To combat the negative health consequences of sitting down, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. However, according to a study that looked into the health of adults in Germany, around 4/5 of the population does not reach the recommended minimum of 2.5 hours of physical activity per week [18].

Sitzen macht krank
People spend up to 11 hours per day sitting down

Can continuous sitting be balanced out through sports and exercise in your free time?

Even if the minimum exercise requirement laid out by the WHO is achieved, it does not eradicate the health consequences of continuous sitting at the office [27]. Scientific studies have been able to prove a positive correlation between the daily number of hours spent sitting down and the risk of developing [8,20,30]:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Certain types of cancer
  • A shorter life span

These correlations were made independently of how much exercise people did in their free time [8,11,19,30].

Die negativen Folgen des Sitzens auf den Körper gezeichnet
Motionless continuous sitting has a negative effect on different parts of the body – from the heart, spine, brain through to the intestines

These alarming correlations are supplemented with further scientific findings:

  • People who suffer from back pain have a very static sitting posture [32]
  • There is a small but consistent correlationbetween the time spent sitting down and a poorer state of mental health [4]
  • Working at a computer sitting down increases the risk of developing pain in the wrists and hands [7]
  • One study revealed that remaining seated for two hours at a time led to increased feelings of discomfort in the lower backand in the hip area, the thighs and in the buttocks [7]
  • People who spend more than 7 hours a day sitting down and do not fulfil the minimum activity requirements laid out by the WHO have less agility in the upper thoracic spine [14]
  • The scientist Baker and his research team have also discovered that long periods spent sitting down at work have a correlation with a poorer cognitive function (specifically the ability to solve problems creatively) [7]

In summary, current studies show that a lot of motionless sitting down makes us humans ill. Furthermore, the WHO recommendations relating to physical activity – which 4/5 of the population does not fulfil – are not enough to combat the negative consequences of sitting down [4,7,8,11,15,27,30,32].

The solution: avoid motionless sitting

So, to counterbalance the negative consequences of sitting for too long, it is not enough to spend half an hour a day doing sport and exercise [8,12,20,30]. Yet at the same time, our work requires us to spend a lot of hours in front of a computer, primarily sitting down.

So, we need a complex, yet also tailored plan to fight motionless continuous sitting and its health consequences.

It is here that our team steps in, using the latest findings from studies as the medical background for the 8sense.

The result: A virtual coach, consisting of sensor technology and a mobile app, analyses the movement and the sitting behavior of the user(s). It gives advice and provides bio-feedback in real-time to prevent motionless sitting, and offers preventative solutions.

The medical background behind the 8sense is complex: just sitting up straight is not enough

That is why it needs to preach more than just sitting up straight. There isn’t any single correct posture for the back. Countless studies have now been able to prove that any sitting position that is assumed for too long without interruption has the potential to trigger pain and discomfort. By implication then, every sitting position is healthy and safe for your body, as long as you don’t adopt it continuously [26, 32, 33,34].

Nonetheless, it is important to sit with a straight posture from time to time. Making a conscious effort to do this again and again [9,22,23,24]

  • activates your core muscles,
  • helps your thoracic spine to work,
  • and reduces the pressure on your intervertebral discs.

That is why the 8sense app – adapted to your personal movement pattern – keeps on encouraging you to spend several minutes sitting up straight.

8sense Haltungschallenge
The 8sense Posture Challenge is about challenging the user to sit with a straight posture for a certain period of time, which helps to activate the core muscles on a regular basis

Dynamic sitting and short breaks where you move around are essential

Furthermore, another important step towards achieving a better posture involves moving about at work regularly [8,13,16]. American and Australian guidelines recommend interrupting the time spent in a static sitting position on a regular basis [2]. These breaks where you move around have to be realistic for everyday office life.

That means they should interrupt the flow of work as little as possible, but at the same time be challenging enough so that they have a positive impact on cardiometabolic markers, e.g. blood pressure [2].

At least two hours per day should be spent standing up or doing light activity (e.g. walking and short exercises in the office) [8]. Based on these scientific findings, the 8sense offers easy-to-understand, yet effective corrective exercises, which the user can do right in the office. In addition, the user is encouraged to do regular short exercises in their office chair and to keep getting up and walking a few paces.

The 8clip reminds you regularly to change position and to move

Guidelines also recommend creating an “exercise-friendly environment”, for example by using a personal digital, vibrating activity sensor [8].  You should also change position at least every 20 minutes [8].

Based on these evidence-based recommendations by an international group of experts, the 8clip on the neck vibrates – triggered by the 8sense app – if the user has been in a static position for too long.

Through this bio-feedback, the user becomes aware of their static sitting behavior and is directly encouraged to change position/move about. At the same time, the app offers targeted corrective exercises and clear, tailored advice to make daily office life more dynamic.

Vibrierender 8Clip
The bio-feedback mechanism of the 8clip helps you to be more active during daily office life by triggering targeted vibrations

Sensor-based data and self-monitoring make it easier to achieve a better posture

Why do we need a sensor like the 8clip for this? Studies have discovered that an effective way of minimizing static sitting is if there is an objective self-monitoring process in place which is solely focussed on one’s posture [10].

It is also important to visualise the recorded sitting-behaviour data in the form of corresponding key figures for the user on a screen [25]. That is why the 8sense has an Office Fitness function: the main key figure that shows – in percent – how much the user moves and changes position. In this way, the user is directly shown and made more conscious of their individual posture pattern (you can find out more about the Office Fitness key figure here).

8sense Office Fitness
A user can improve their Office Fitness percentage by doing regular corrective exercises, sitting dynamically and moving

Scientifically proven: the building blocks of the 8sense have an enormous benefit for the user’s health

There are already numerous studies – on which the concept of the 8sense is based – that have shown extremely promising results.

If a long, static period of sitting is regularly interrupted with short breaks where you move around/short exercises (e.g. 2-3 min, approx. every 20-30 min), it has a correlation with [2,3,5,6,12,15,17,20,2,27,29,31]:

  • Improved metabolism(improved glucose utilization)
  • Decrease in fatigue
  • A longer life span
  • A reduction in back discomfort
  • Continuing and increased productivity at work(improved concentration, alertness, motivation and activity)
  • Changes in the characteristics of genes involved in cell growth, cell development, and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Increased and, thus, improved exchange of gases(oxygen/carbon dioxide)
  • Good fat burn and fat regulation
  • Increased brain function
  • Faster recovery from stress at work
  • Normalisation of blood pressure and blood glucose
  • Improved quality of life
  • Better supply of nutrients and oxygen to the intervertebral discs
  • Improved circulation in the muscles and joints
  • Reduction in neck pain

…compared with a period of working spent sitting in a static position.

Changing position and taking active breaks are also considered to be effective measures for decreasing pain and discomfort in the lower back [28].

Bewegung und Aktivität tut dem Körper gut gezeichnet
Recent studies have shown that people who regularly interrupt a long period of static sitting with movement and activity, reap huge rewards for their body

Scientific claim and medical mission of the 8sense

To do our evidence-based approach justice, we are constantly optimising the medical background of the 8sense. For this, we are currently collaborating with a project group of students who are enrolled on the MA course “Health Science – the prevention and promotion of health” at the Technical University of Munich.

To ensure we are always up to date, physiotherapists, health scientists and physicians are integral members of the 8sense team. All recommendations and exercises are developed based on the latest scientific studies.

With the 8sense, we want to achieve the following aims relevant for the medical industry:

  • Improve awareness of people’s daily sitting and movement behaviour
  • Improve health literacy, so as to increase the intrinsic motivation to reduce static sitting behaviour
  • Increase the number of “active breaks” and encourage active sitting behaviour
  • Ban long-term and uninterrupted sitting from daily work life
  • Fight back pain in a preventative manner
  • Advice on the development of strategies to deal with non-specific back pain appropriately

Important to note:
This article contains general recommendations only and must not be used for self-diagnosing or self-treatment. It is not a replacement for visiting your GP.

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