In recent years, media outlets have described sitting as the new smoking. This may seem like a stretch, but once you break that statement down it carries some truth. Cigarettes were not thought to be the cause of lung cancer and other serious diseases until the 1950s. Like the cigarette industry in the 1920s, the effects of prolonged sitting throughout the workday has largely been ignored and understudied, until recent years.
From the commute to work, to the office chair and then the couch at home, people are spending more time seated than ever, and research shows that is wreaking havoc on our bodies. A 2014 study by the American Heart Association involving over 84,000 participants aged 45-69 found that men who spend 5 or more hours a day sitting were 34% more likely to develop heart failure than men who sit less than 2 hours a day outside work.1 The American Physical Therapy Association recommends 2 to 4 hours of standing and light activity during the workday.2
Let’s talk how to sit at your computer:
Set your desk chair so your feet are flat on the floor, your knees equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips; your hips pushed as far back as possible. Support your upper and lower back with a rolled towel and adjust the back of your chair to about a 100° reclined angle. Your computer screen should be directly in front of you, position the top of the screen approximately 2-3 inches above eye level and sit an arm’s length away from the screen. Lastly, if possible adjust the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed.
We can discuss ergonomics until we’re blue in the face but even the most perfectly set workstation will not protect your body from the prolonged, static postures that most jobs ‘demand’. Take a break every 20-30 minutes, do a lap around the office, jog up a few flights of stairs, walk to get lunch, stretch, do whatever you can to add some movement into your nine to five. Small changes each day can help prevent the harmful effects of prolonged sitting and assist with improved circulation and posture.
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