Today's world and its technological advances make our needs and comforts a simple button click away. We sit at our computers during our work day and during our leisure time. We watch movies from our desks. We shop from our recliners. Most people spend about half of their day sitting. Twelve hours of inactivity is never a good thing but when it's spent sitting, it's even worse.
Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to a variety of health issues.
- Muscle and Joint stiffness and weakness: This is probably the most obvious of symptoms an inactive and sedentary work and home life might cause. Extended rest without use will cause your leg and abdominal muscles to break down and lose mass. Additionally, your muscles and joints may stiffen from the lack of use. Standing and taking a few extra seconds to actually be able to straighten isn't just an old person thing. Stiffness occurs when fluids accumulate. Movement is necessary to keep fluids flowing so that they can lubricate joints as they are designed to do.
- Higher incidents of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Disease: Sitting at a desk or anywhere else doesn't lower our need to munch. Snacking on unhealthy fatty or sugary foods can increase our chances for Heart Disease, some Cancers and Diabetes. As you try to increase moments away from your desk with stretching and walking, be sure to opt for healthier snacks like fruit or vegetables as you work on that latest proposal or binge watch twelve seasons of your favorite show on Netflix.
- Varicose Veins: Sitting for extended periods of time may cause blood to pool in your legs and lower extremities. When blood pools, it increases the pressure on veins and this pressure may lead to unsightly Varicose Veins.
- Brain Fog and Depression: When we work our muscles, our veins dilate so that they can deliver more oxygen to those muscles being used. The increased blood flow carries a rich load of oxygen to other parts of our body as well including our brain. This delivery of oxygenated blood lifts brain fog and carries other important and necessary nutrients that help battle depression. Sitting slows this blood flow and lowers the oxygen in our bloodstream.
- Back Problems: Sitting hunched forward and keeping your head lowered to look down at keyboards, phones or monitors is one of the leading causes of back pain. Poor posture strains the spine and neck and creates more work for those muscles. This not only can affect your back but can also lead to migraines.
While these health issues are severe, there are several small and simple changes you can make to your daily routine to help avoid these painful ailments.
- Lumbar Support: A good Lumbar support cushion helps support the part of your lower back that curves inward. Without this support, we tend to slouch forward in an unnatural position. A Lumbar cushion offers added support and promotes better posture when in a seated position.
- Keeping a small step stool or foot cushion under your desk can help keep blood from pooling into your lower legs and feet (which can cause swelling.) Periodically rest your feet on the cushion at an angle bent at the knee or, if you have room, stretch your legs forward and rest your heels on it.
- If you find yourself keeping your neck twisted down to see your monitor, investing in a good monitor stand or getting creative to raise it to eye level could be the solution. An added bonus is more storage space on your desk.
- Most offices I've worked in are not known for commonly being lavish with office supplies. If your office is one of those and you find yourself sitting on what feels like a concrete block for most of your day, add a Therapeutic Grade Seat Cushion.
The ideal course of action however, is to stand, walk, stretch and move as often as possible. If your working environment accommodates it, set a timer or alarm to remind you to get up and move at least every hour or so. Offering to grab lunch for the office, picking up things for a co-worker in the copy room, helping carry the new box of printer paper or using a smaller coffee cup so you have to get up to refill more often are tiny changes that can make a big difference in how you feel. Keep moving and keep healthy!