Humans are meant to move. Humans are built to walk, run, jump, climb, bend, lift, crawl, swim... you get the picture. They are not meant to sit or lay down for extended periods of time.
Generation after generation, humans have become more and more sedentary for many reasons. It has become clear recently how bad sitting for extended periods of time is for your body. Researchers are saying, based on studies completed, that there is a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality. This is bad news for most adults who are forced to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day, most days of the week. If you are reading this and realizing (while panicking) that you are one of the many adults who sit more than you stand, please take a deep breath and continue reading, because I am going to show you how to remedy this issue.
Here are a few methods that you can implement right away that will help alleviate some of the issues faced when forced to sit for extended periods of time, multiple days a week:
I want to start with an option that may be a little more difficult to implement than the rest. This option has many benefits, but some people may not have the ability to have this at their office. If you can set up this option at your office or in your home, then great! If not, I have many other options listed below.
The standing desk is a desk that allows you to stand comfortably while working. There are many versions of the standing desk available, and many are adjustable to your height and environment. Research proving the health benefits are still in the early stages, but many researchers can at least agree that standing desks can alleviate the negative effects of sitting too much during the day. Some of the benefits that are being tested include- Lowering risk of weight gain/obesity, lowering risk of heart disease, reductions of lower back pain, reduction of neck pain, and lowering of blood sugar levels.
It becoming more common to see standing desks in the workplace, and most people that I have spoken with who implement this option claim that they notice the benefits. I believe that this option, if possible, is worth giving a try!
Set an Alarm to Get up and Move Around
Now I don’t know about you, but if someone told me that sitting for extended periods of time is very bad for me, then my natural reaction would be to get up and move more! Sometimes the most simple things could be the best solutions to your problems! Personally, when I am stuck sitting for extended periods of time, I try my best to get up at least once every hour to walk around and stretch a little. The more movement you can swing, the better. I know how easy it is to get lost in your work and realize three hours has gone by. The way that I remedy this is by setting the alarm on my phone to remind me to get up and move.
Stretch Problem Areas
Being stuck sitting in front of the computer everyday can cause a lot of problems. Many people have bad posture in front of the computer (hunched shoulders with your neck pushed forward) causing headaches, muscle tension, pain, and tightness in your back, neck, and shoulders. The best solution would be to do your best to either fix your posture or move more so that you aren’t stuck in that position for too long. However, people have made this posture such a habit that it cannot be fixed overnight. Studies show that regular stretching of these problem areas can help reduce the headaches, tension, and pain. Some of the best stretches include chest stretches, multiple neck stretches, upper and lower back stretches, and shoulder shrugs. This is so important that my next blog post will be entirely focused on specific stretches and how to perform them. I will include explanations as well as videos so that it can be as easy as possible to implement. Look for that blog post in a few days!
Movement is the key to improving your health. Getting as much movement as you can during the day (within reason) can only provide positive results. Try out the standing desk, get up and walk around every hour or so, take a nice walk during your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and stretch your body if you feel some tightness or tension. I hope these quick tips can benefit you and stay tuned for my next blog post about the specific stretches you can do to fix your pain, tension, and tightness!