Experts say that sitting is the new smoking.
In the United States, we sit for an average of about eight hours a day. Considering the fact that Americans get around 8 hours of sleep per night, that means we spend more than half of our waking hours sitting down. So why is that a problem?
Well, studies show that sitting for long periods can significantly increase risk of death. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which tracked the habits of around 120,000 healthy test subjects, yielded astoundingly predictable results.
The study found that individuals who reported sitting down for six or more hours per day were far more likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and all other causes than those who sat down for an average of three hours or fewer per day.
The American Cancer Society describes, “Risks of death among those who reported the most leisure time sitting were higher from cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, suicide, lung disease, liver disease, peptic ulcer and other digestive diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, nervous disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders.”
What’s more, our average sitting time has increased over time.
One study found that subjects spent around 90% of their non-work time sitting, and most of that time was spent either using devices or watching television. Prolonged sitting has even been shown to have the same detrimental effect on metabolic health in individuals who exercise regularly as it does in those who do not.
With all of this information publicly available, you might be wondering why people aren’t jumping out of their seats.
They’re trying! In one study, three out of four subjects surveyed, who worked full-time for large corporations, responded that they wished they did not spend the majority of their workdays sitting. 60% of employees surveyed responded that they felt they would be more productive if they had the option to work on their feet. Additionally, 67% of those surveyed wished that their employers offered them adjustable standing desks.
Which brings us to our first way to fight the effects of sitting…
1. Work At An Adjustable Standing Desk
Sales of standing desks have skyrocketed. This is no accident. Working at a standing desk can prevent a variety of aches and pains that go along with frequent sitting. Standing desks can help you burn more calories throughout the day, digest food more efficiently, and even boost productivity. If you really want to go the extra mile, adding a treadmill under your standing desk to add an element of exercise to your workday.
2. Use An Ergonomic Desk Chair
Standing desks are great, but we can’t all have the luxury of working at one. Your office situation might not be great for standing desks, and some people have conditions that make standing all day less than ideal. For those of us that can’t get a standing desk, an ergonomic desk chair is the next best thing. It won’t help you burn calories throughout the day, and you’ll have to stand up periodically, but an ergonomic desk chair will support a healthy seated posture to prevent aches and pains related to prolonged slouching.
3. Adjust The Height Of Your Computer Monitor
The height of your computer monitor dictates the angle of your neck. Looking up or down at a screen all day can lead to neck pain and contribute to poor posture. You should adjust your monitor so that the top of the screen is just a little bit below eye level. This can also be achieved by adjusting the height of your desk chair. If you wear bifocals, you should adjust the monitor to be slightly below eye level and turn your screen slightly upward. It’s all about maintaining a neutral spine.
4. Regular Massage Therapy
Even with an adjustable standing desk, an adequately placed computer monitor, or an ergonomic desk chair, you are still likely to slouch throughout the day. Slouching causes your body to misalign. You put excess stress on some muscles while putting zero pressure on others, which can gradually weaken those muscles over time and lead to long-term issues. Regular Massage Therapy can relax the tight and sore muscles strained by improper posture and enable you to properly distribute your weight and sit or stand with a healthy, neutral spine. Regular Massage Therapy with a trained massage therapist can burn a hole in your wallet, but a good massage chair can provide you with the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
5. Adjust Your Phone Use Habits
Textneck. We’ve all had it. The pain that comes after a long day of tilting our heads down to look at our smartphones. Our heads can weigh up to 12 pounds, and when we lean them forward to stare at our smartphones, we can put upwards of 45 pounds of pressure on our necks. The best way to combat that pressure is to avoid using our smartphones for prolonged working or web browsing. It can also help to hold your phone up at eye level during use, so the strain is on your arms rather than your spine.