Yes it is.
And a recent study by Daniela Schmid and Dr. Michael Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany proves it.
The buzz phrase you’ve probably heard is, “sitting is the new smoking” for computer users. But health issues linked to sitting all day are not a new discovery.
In the 17th century, Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian physician, studied the health problems of workers who spent hours in one particular position. Years later he wrote a book on his findings, Diseases of Workers and as a result became known as “the father of occupational medicine.”
Fast forward to today and with more and more of us spending upwards of eight hours every day hunched over a screen, it’s essential we adapt our working days to include more movement.
“If you are sitting for six hours a day or more it increases the risk factors for a variety of things,” says Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.
It’s too easy to get so engrossed in your work, or cruising your social media messages, that two or three hours zoom past with your body scrunched up in one position.
So, stand up right now.
Did you hear your joints creaking and popping?
If you’re nodding your head then you need to start using some of these suggestions to keep your body moving throughout the day.
Take them frequently and make it a habit.
- Use the Pomodoro technique
- e.ggtimer.com is another handy timer you can set for any length of time you choose
- Use the alarm on your phone or tablet
Every hour stand up from your chair and stretch, or if possible, walk around for 5 minutes to get the blood flowing.
Take some deep breaths. Sitting hunched over your computer causes shallow breathing and is especially bad if you have any respiratory problems.
Deep breathing -
- Gets more oxygen to your heart, brain and eyes
- Reduces muscle tension
- Improves your concentration, brain processes and increases creativity
- Boosts your immune system
- Helps your digestion
- Makes you relax and feel better
Drop some paperclips or staples on the floor beside your desk and pick them up one at a time.
When you talk on the phone. It burns more calories, improves posture and your voice.
Try standing and working at your computer.
- Some users have switched from sitting at a desk to standing. While this does offer benefits, it can bring other problems especially if you have any back issues or leg circulation problems.
- The most effective solution – alternating between both. There are several new desk designs that enable you to raise your computer to standing height.
- If you work from home and don’t have an adjustable desk, improvise. Put a box or a stack of large books on your desk and put your laptop or keyboard on top. Adjust the height until its comfortable and there’s no strain on your arms or wrists.
Sit on an exercise ball.
If you have a desk that has a pull-out computer tray, you can sit comfortably on a ball while you work. It’s a superb workout as you are constantly shifting and working your core muscles. You also have to sit straighter so it works your posture too.
Beware you can also fall backwards if you roll a bit too enthusiastically, like I did the first time I tried this.
If you have stairs at work, use them.
If you work from home and can find even one step, use it like the old-fashioned school bench gym exercise. Step up and down as fast as you can and do reps of 20.
Walk walk walk
Whether it’s early morning, a quick lunchtime stroll or a walk home from work in the evening. Walk every day if you can. Studies have proven it reduces blood pressure, stress, fatigue and susceptibility to certain types of cancers. It makes you breathe deeper and you can alternate between strolling and power-walking.
Improvise and Exercise
Do exercise in short sessions and use what you have available.
- I use 1 litre bottles of water to exercise my arms and shoulders for 5 minutes
- Do press ups against the wall or on the edge of your desk
- Do imaginary skipping to your favourite fast track – believe me it works up a sweat and gets your heart rate up
Don’t neglect your eyes. Check out Keyboard Athletes for great eye exercise tips to use while working on your computer.
And these help too…
- Use wrist supports
- Use an anti-glare screen
- Get an adjustable ergonomic chair
- Be aware of how much you slouch
- Adjust your working area to reduce strain on your body
- Learn yoga
- GET ACTIVE any way that works for you
And don’t forget to stay hydrated. Keep a large water bottle at your desk. Sip regularly and fill it up at least twice during the day.
Over to you
If your work has you sitting most of the day, what do you do to keep your body from seizing up? Add your suggestions below.
Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web content & business writer