If you work in an office you might be doing something that could seem ordinary and necessary but can be hazardous to your health: sitting. We often hear warnings about avoiding couch-potato tendencies in front of the television but what if your job requires you to sit in front of the computer screen from 9-5?
I’ve worked at a desk for several hours a day for most of my life – from sitting in class as a student to now doing most of the work pertaining to my career on a computer. After years of putting in long hours in front of screens I’ve felt the physical effects, from neck pain after a night of typing a paper, to occasional aches and numbness in my wrists and legs which I’ve been able to control with stretches and exercise. Recently I’ve been hearing more reports on the lasting and even more dangerous health effects that long periods of sitting may have.
Several studies have shown a link between sedentary behavior and the increased risk for health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. There have been a number of recent studies, including one following Australian adults, that also show that sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health even if you do physical activity at other times during the week.1
Previously on our blog we discussed how even when you are getting the recommended amount of physical activity (150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week) prolonged sessions of sitting can take years off of your life and lead to chronic illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and cardiovascular disease. 2 These findings show the importance of moving more and limiting the amounts of time you do sit throughout the day even if you do get a regular exercise routine in.
If you do have to sit at your desk for most of the day here are some tips to ensure that you are helping and not hindering your health:
Remember that the human body was meant to move, not to sit stationary for hours on end. Make every effort to stay in motion for the short-term physical relief from aches and stiffness, and the improved longevity and quality of your life.
1) Van der Ploeg HP, Chey T, Korda RJ, Banks E, Bauman A. (2011). Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222,497 Australian adults. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):494-500. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2174.
2) Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, & Bouchard C. (2009). Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. MSSE, 41(5), 998-1005.