Black to the Fitness Basics

Working from home or even committed to a hybrid schedule due to the Coronavirus pandemic may leave some people less inclined to work out.

“It was hard to see what people were doing while in their house,” said Catherine Black, who oversees Environmental Health and Safety’s (EHS) Ergonomics program.

Catherine helps to ensure sufficient solutions for comfort can be implemented to improve the workplace. Working on campus, she says, still presents its challenges.

“It frustrates me,” Black said. “Some people are in so much pain and to see them sitting for long periods of time had me concerned.”

The environmental safety officer took over the program more than a decade ago, in an effort to get people moving while at work. The work of Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, Ohio State’s university chief wellness officer, encouraged her to make the commitment.

“You can work out after work, but it will not change the dynamics of sitting for hours at a time,” Black said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for extended durations causes several health concerns like obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels that make up metabolic syndrome.

Black says a typical person that she sees sits for seven hours a day.

Several steps can be taken to improve conditions in the workplace:

  • Raise or lower your chair to help with posture.
  • Stand up and pace around your chair.
  • Change the size of your mouse to fit your hands.
  • Eat a healthy meal for lunch.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Take frequent breaks.

Black encourages walking meetings for her coworkers in EHS. They also have standing desks in their department.

The health enhancements don’t stop there. Black also scheduled a nurse to perform biometric screenings in their building on Kinnear Road a week ago. She is in the process of setting up a health station in the facility so participants can check their weight and blood pressure. Participants can even grab a healthy snack.

Buckeye Wellness Innovator is another title she’s had for around 12 years. She got involved to improve the well-being of her coworkers.

“I thought wow! If I become a Buckeye Wellness Innovator, then I’ll be able to ask for money for people that can’t afford new chairs, foot stools or other useful equipment for their office,” Black said.

A strict workout schedule is something she has maintained for a long time. She walks her dog for at least an hour a day.

“I usually walk 10,000 steps a day with my dog,” Black said.

The health enthusiast also meets with a group in her community a couple days per week to jog. She also rides a stationary bike in her basement and joined a gym to add weight training to her regimen.  

Black has tried everything from yoga and Tai chi to even considering belly dancing in the future.

Ohio State offers a variety of health-oriented programs like Your Plan for Health and Black encourages faculty and staff to get involved.