You’ve probably heard the expression, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Hyperbole aside, what that really means is that spending a lot of time (6+ hours a day) sitting down comes with a number of health risks.
According to The Heart Foundation :
1 in 4 Americans spend more than 8 hours a day sitting down. Of those people, 44% get very little or no exercise.
The average American is active for less than 20 minutes every day.
People who sit the least have the lowest risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality.
Sitting causes your blood flow to slow down, leading to a buildup of fat in your blood vessels as well as causing insulin resistance. Our bodies’ ability to process fat decreases because of all the time we spend sitting down.
But did you know that sitting down can also negatively impact your ability to move? Your lower back muscles grow weak because they aren’t needed to support your spine, so you run a higher risk of developing spinal problems. Your mobility is also decreased, and you get stiffer and lose flexibility because the muscles and joints in your back, butt, and hamstrings tighten.
The result: less fluid movement and a greater chance of injuring yourself.
That’s why it’s so important that you learn how to sit properly at your desk, as well as how to stay healthy while working at a sedentary job. Just a few simple changes to your work habits can make a huge difference to your long-term health!
Here are the things you need to focus on correcting and improving when sitting at your desk :
Provide adequate lower back support. Make sure your chair has lower back support built in, and adjust the chair so it’s at the right angle (almost vertical, with a slight backward tilt) to keep your lower back supported for as long as you’re seated.
Set the right height. Your chair height should factor in two things: your leg position and your elbow position. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your knees slightly lower than your hips to encourage better circulation. Your elbows should hang comfortably next to your body, forming a natural L-shape at the joint. Adjust your chair until you’ve got your legs at the right height and your arms comfortable according to the placement of your keyboard.
Set up the computer correctly. Your screen should be at eye level, roughly an arm’s length away from your eyes. This will eliminate any need to bend your neck to see the screen. The keyboard should also be directly in front of you so you don’t need to twist to either side to type comfortably. Your wrists should rest either on the desk or a wrist rest to reduce shoulder and neck strain. Use a mouse mat with a wrist pad to offer extra support for your wrist if you use your mouse a lot.
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Sitting isn’t ideal for a healthy body, but sitting correctly can negate some of the health effects of spending so much time sitting and staring at a computer screen.
Sitting with the correct posture will :
Reduce headaches caused by tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
Decrease lower back pain.
Increase your energy levels (because your body is aligned correctly and functioning properly).
Reduce the risk of chronic pain and repetitive strain injuries in your neck, shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
Improve posture overall, not just when sitting, but also when standing.
Expand lung capacity and improve breathing, thereby increasing blood oxygenation.
Enhance digestion and improve circulation.
Maintain healthy, neutral head position and decrease temporomandibular joint pain.
Increase your upper back and core muscle strength, as your muscles are engaged to maintain healthy posture.
Increase your self-confidence and raise your mood .
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that sitting right is the right way to improve your health!
If you want to counteract the negative effects of spending so much time sitting down, here’s what you can do:
Stand up and move around more. At least once and hour, stand up and do some light exercise, stretching, or Yoga for a few minutes to loosen your joints and get blood flowing to your muscles.
Stand and walk around whenever possible—such as when you’re talking on the phone or in a meeting.
Take more walking lunches. Get outside for your lunch break and eat while strolling. Not only is it good for your digestion, but it also helps to speed up your metabolism and burn more calories.
Make exercise a central part of your day. Strive to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, every day you’re at work.
Stretch and limber up daily. You’ll experience increased muscle stiffness because of all the time you spend sitting down, so you’ll need to counteract that by stretching more.
Sitting correctly is so important for your health during the long days you spend working at a desk. It’s vital that you maintain a healthy posture and be more active so you can counteract the negative effects of spending so much time seated. Make these changes to your posture and work habits, and you’ll be healthier than ever!
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