Most of us have office jobs and end up spending a good deal of our day sitting down. Because of this, we can experience back pain, stiff shoulders, sore necks. If you’re like me, you’re most likely sitting from 9 to 5, leaving your chair only for toilet and coffee breaks.
The damages of sitting down.
Sitting is natural, but doing it for an extended period of time is damaging our health. The damages of sitting for too long include:
- weight gain: you’re sedentary and don’t get your body moving as often as you should.
- Poor blood circulation: because you’re sitting still, your blood cannot circulate efficiently throughout your body.
- Heart disease: sitting for too long has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Weakened muscles: your hips, hamstrings and glutes especially.
- Diabetes: prolonged periods of inactivity have been linked to a reduced insulin sensitivity.
- Posture problems: sitting and slouching for too long is bad for your spine.
- Chronic body pain: you most likely experience chronic back pain if you spend most of your day sitting.
- Brain damage: your brain doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen.
- Anxiety and depression: those who sit all day don’t get to enjoy the health and mood-boosting benefits that come with exercise and going outside.
- Cancer: The exact correlation is not clear, but it could be due to the fact that sedentary behaviour can boost the production of insulin in the body, which encourages cell growth.
The body is designed for regular movement all day long. When you stop moving for extended periods of time, it’s like you’re telling your body to shut down and prepare for death.
The problem of the “actively sedentary”.
“Actively sedentary” is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around for the rest of the day. Maybe you thought that you were fine because you workout an hour a day. WRONG. An hour of exercise isn’t enough to offset 10 hours of stillness.
However, it’s easy to prevent or undo the damages of sitting.
Sit less, move more.
Try these tips at work to get your body moving.
Get a standing desk at work. That will keep your muscles activated at the office. however, do not take standing to the extreme! Standing for long periods of time is just as bad. Alternate between standing and sitting for no more than an hour at a time.
If a standing desk isn’t possible, take 5-minutes breaks every 30 to 45 minutes and walk around the office.
You can also do simple exercises at work every few hours to get the blood pumping again and to stretch tight hips, hamstrings and glutes:
- leg swings: front to back and side to side.
- deep squats: for 30 to 60 seconds
- lunges: 30 seconds each side.
You just have to incorporate regular periods of movement during the day to counteract the damaging effects of sitting. Go for walks around the office, have walking meetings with your colleagues, and do some quick exercises. Not only will it be good for your body, but for your mind and productivity also.
Once you’re home, you can stretch your back, legs and hips more deeply to undo the damages of sitting.