Evolution of Ergonomics: From Early Man to Modern Human

by Jackie Edwards

The word ergonomics was first used in 1857 in a philosophical narrative by Polish scientist Prof. Wojciech Jastrzebowski. The term derives its name from two Greek words – Ergon, which means ‘work’ and Nomos, which translates to ‘natural law,’ literally translating into ‘how to work according to nature.’ So, ergonomics is a scientific discipline involved in the design and creation of safe and comfortable workspaces so as to best utilize a person’s abilities and boost productivity.

For example, viewing cute pictures to increase workplace productivity is also an important discovery in the field of ergonomics which increases work efficiency by enhancing the mood of workers. In layman language, ergonomics refers to designing products, environments, and systems where people are involved so as to minimize risks of harms or injuries and also, related mental or emotional stress. Interestingly, this principle has been in existence for a long time even though the term itself may have just been coined in recent history.

Where it all began

Ergonomics has been in the very cradle of human evolution, ever since early man began making tools from bones and pebbles to make tasks easier. Archaeological findings have revealed sophisticated ergonomic devices, tools, and equipment from ancient Egyptian dynasties and 5th Century BCE Greece. Several centuries later, we still use axes, plows, hammers and several such tools only in their more improvised and sophisticated designs to fit into our advanced living environment. However, it was not until the 16th century that ergonomics began to be understood and studied. It all started with Bernardino Ramazinni’s medical journal ‘De Morbis Artificum (Diseases of Workers)’ which brought to light the various injuries incurred by his patients, resulting from unfavorable conditions in their occupations and workspaces.

Industrial Revolution

During the historical Industrial Revolution of 19th century, ergonomics was at the pinnacle of attention, being studied like never before. Spinning Jennies and rolling mills were invented to speed up work. Frederick W. Taylor pioneered the process of ergonomics by evaluating the best and easier ways of accomplishing a task and eventually succeeded in improving worker productivity and wages in a shoveling job. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, on the other hand, standardized materials, work processes and tools and began time motion analysis to make workflow efficient and less tiring.

World War II

With World War II, ergonomics reached a newer height, prompting research in man and machine interaction. This began to prominently reveal itself especially in the design of military systems like naval ships, aircraft and weaponry. The complex devices from radar to aircraft that were manufactured for the war began to demand a better grip of ergonomics without which there was a continuous risk of loss of personnel or equipment. In 1943, a U.S Army lieutenant, Alphonse Chapanis brought to light how so-called “pilot errors” could be greatly reduced. That is when logical and easier to understand control buttons were born in the cockpits of aircraft.

Ergonomics today

Work or ergonomic-related musculoskeletal injuries contributed to a third of day-offs from workplaces as per data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013. And, most of these were reported from sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing, healthcare and entertainment/recreation. These injuries have not only sparked concern but with it, have also spiked renewed interest in the subject of ‘ergonomics’ to inspire futuristic designs for new age tools tailored to modern technological advances and lifestyle of humans.

Ergonomics may be a relatively new term and newer field of study. However, it has been a part of our life since the very moment of Stone Age. Today, Ergonomics is studied in-depth with specializations in cognitive, organizational and physical sciences.

Health Benefits of Gaming

by Marcus Clarke

Apparently it was the Buddha who first said ‘health is the greatest gift’. He was certainly right. However, he probably never imagined that one of the ways we can receive this ‘greatest gift’ is video games, as much research is now showing that gaming can be extremely good for your health, in a bewildering number of ways.

For example, gaming can increase the strength and size of the brain areas associated with a number of key skills, such as motor skills and spatial awareness. So gaming can actually increase the size of your brain! As well as this, gaming can reduce sensations of pain. Studies on soldiers who had been injured in battle, in which half were asked to play on a virtual reality game and half acted as a control group, found that those who played video games were less likely to need pain meds. Amazing! There’s more! Gaming can slow down cognitive decline in the elderly and those that are suffering from degenerative neurological disorders. As such, gaming in this sense has many public health applications.

Have you recently suffered from some sort of trauma? Fear not. Gaming may be the answer, and research has shown that gaming can minimize the effects of trauma. One study showed, for example, that those who had recently undergone surgery and played video games were likely to recover more quickly. Likewise, those who had undergone traumatic events were likely to have fewer flashbacks and after effects if they played video games.

So, gaming is not just about fun, and vegging out on a weekend after a hard week at work. It can actually have really positive effects, particularly on your cognitive health. Likewise, modern games are increasingly good for your cardio health, as games become more active, and your body becomes the controller.

To find out more about how gaming can be good for your, see the infographic below from Computer Planet.

Continue reading Health Benefits of Gaming

7 Health Benefits of Chocolate — Backed by Science!

If you like chocolate, you’ll be happy to know that in moderation, this tasty snack is actually good for you. No, this isn’t us just trying to find a way to justify our chocolate habit — there’s some actual science here! Whether you like the occasional Snickers bar or just can’t get enough of dark chocolate, here are some of the science-backed health benefits of cocoa.

First, a Disclaimer

Don’t rush out to the grocery store just yet. It’s important to know what type of chocolate to look for. Some types of chocolate have different health benefits, while others might not have any benefit at all.

First, make sure your chocolate is real instead of what is known in the industry as compound chocolate, which uses cocoa powder for chocolate flavoring but has no cocoa butter in the product. It’s easier for some manufactures — cocoa butter can be difficult to work with in large batches — but it isn’t good chocolate. If your ingredients show other forms of fat, like vegetable oil or soybean oil instead of cocoa butter, skip the candy bar.

Now, on with the show!

1. Chocolate Helps Your Heart

Chocolate can be a great tool to help you mend a broken heart, but it can also help keep your ticker healthy. One study, completed over nine years by Swedish scientists, found that one to two servings of dark chocolate every week helped to reduce the risk of heart failure in adults.

It wasn’t Hershey bars these individuals were eating, though — milk chocolate is so heavily processed that it doesn’t contain the kind of beneficial components dark chocolate does. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help to protect the heart when eaten in moderation. These are the same antioxidants that are found in things like red wine, onions and tea.

2. High-Quality Tasty Nutrition

Believe it or not, a bar of high-quality dark chocolate can help you get a good portion of your daily recommended value for minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. A 100-gram portion also contains 11 grams of fiber.

Now, you don’t want to eat 100 grams regularly — that equals about 3.5 ounces, or 600 calories worth of chocolate — but even a small portion offers a host of nutritional benefits.

3. Candy Helps You Lose Weight

This might sound like we’re making stuff up, but it’s true: Dark chocolate in moderation can help aid weight loss. This is due to the fact that it is more filling than milk chocolate — due in part to that higher fiber content we mentioned a moment ago — and it also helps to lessen your craving for other sweet, fatty or salty foods that could make it harder to stick to your diet.

4. Keep That Cholesterol in Check

One of the main components in chocolate, cocoa butter, is a fat — and we’ve been told for years to avoid fat because it can be detrimental to our cholesterol levels. As it turns out, though, dark chocolate can help to both raise HDL — the good cholesterol — and lower total LDL in men with already elevated cholesterol.

The flavanoids in dark chocolate also help to prevent LDL from oxidizing. When bad cholesterol reacts with free radicals, it becomes oxidized and starts damaging tissues.

5. Pack It With Your Sunscreen

This is a benefit that only appears after you eat chocolate for a while — 12 weeks, minimum, according to researchers — but eating dark chocolate regularly can help to protect your skin from sun damage. This is no replacement for sunscreen, but regular chocolate consumption can more than double your minimal erythema dose or MED. This is just a fancy term for the amount of sun exposure it takes before you start to get sunburned.

The flavanoids in dark chocolate help to improve blood flow to the skin. They can also help increase skin density and overall hydration. Don’t skip your sunscreen, though — this might be an added level of protection, but it won’t keep you from getting sunburned during a day at the beach.

6. Not Just Good For The Body

In addition to helping with skin and heart health and cholesterol, chocolate has also shown signs of being good for your brain. Studies have shown that chocolate can help improve blood flow to the brain, which can help improve brain function. This benefit has been primarily studied in young adults. It has also been shown to help improve cognitive function in elderly patients who suffer from cognitive impairments.

7. Candy to Prevent Diabetes — Not as Crazy as It Sounds

People with diabetes are generally told to avoid candy and other sugars, but dark chocolate could actually be the key to help diabetic patients regulate their symptoms or prevent diabetes from developing at all. A small study out of Italy found that patients who ate dark chocolate every day for 15 days displayed reduced insulin sensitivity.

The amount of chocolate that was consumed during the trial equaled about 480 calories, so it’s important to consider the amount of chocolate you’re eating. However, if it can help reduce insulin sensitivity, it might be worth it to add a square or two of dark chocolate to your diet.

Chocolate isn’t as bad for you as your dentist or doctor might be telling you — eating high-quality dark chocolate in moderation can be a great way to improve your health over time. Just make sure you’re eating your chocolate in addition to a healthy diet.