Professors Survey Campus About
From Dateline (October 9, 2003)
Sometimes the smallest adjustments can make
a big difference. Just ask Shari McMahon and Yosuke Chikamoto, associate
and assistant professors, respectively, of kinesiology and health
Earlier this year, they conducted an online survey
of full- and part-time staff members designed to identify university
practices used to reduce musculoskeletal discomfort. The study was
an outgrowth of the professors’ interest in aging, especially
as America’s work force gets older.
Additionally, according to McMahon and Chikamoto,
among the most urgent needs in worker health and safety research
is to determine the types of changes, adaptations and coping strategies
utilized by employees to minimize the impact of physiological changes.
Among the survey findings: individuals who participate in ergonomics
training programs are more likely to change their work environment
to reduce discomfort and enhance their performance.
Staff members working six or more hours at their
computers have a tendency to take fewer breaks and change body positions
less frequently. “No matter how busy people are, they need
to take breaks,” says McMahon. “Even if they are ‘micro’
breaks, a few seconds to change focal points to reduce eye strain
or relax the hands and stretch is very helpful in preventing musculoskeletal
Among McMahon’s current research is studying
the health consequences of exposure to a variety of environmental
and occupational health stressors, including low-frequency electromagnetic
fields. She is a certified health education specialist and special
adviser for the California Governor’s Council on Physical
Fitness and Sports.
Chikamoto’s research and professional interests
are in identifying effective strategies in delivering health promotion
programs. He has developed a series of such programs utilizing computer
technology, including the Stanford Educational Assessment of Risk
and Readiness for Change and Health Promotion Practitioner Support
System. He serves on the worksite health promotion committee at
the International Institute for Health Promotion at American University.
Taking an age-related approach, McMahon and Chikamoto
will next prepare the study’s results for publication.