For the millions of people across the world who work at desk jobs, sitting for long periods of time is part of their everyday life. However, if you’re accustomed to spending 8 or 9 hours a day in front of a computer screen, you may not realize just how detrimental it is to your health. Here’s what it can do:
Probably the most noticeable problem associated with sitting in one place for too long is physical pain. Many people with desk jobs have neck, upper back, or lower back problems. One way to counteract pain is to practice good posture—sitting up straight in your chair will also help you burn more calories. Invest in a comfortable chair, and visit a chiropractor regularly.
In the 1960s, nearly half of all jobs required physical activity. Now, less than 20% do. Obesity rates have doubled, and though we can’t attribute the entire percentage to desk jobs alone (processed foods and unhealthy diets are also to blame), there is a distinct correlation.
In addition, fat-burning enzymes drop by 90% when you sit, and calorie burning slows to one calorie per minute.
Severe Health Problems
Some studies claim that people who spend 11 hours a day sitting have a 40% increased chance of death. Sitting at a desk increases chances of heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, musculoskeletal problems, and diabetes. Some statistics say that people with desk jobs are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease.
Our bodies were not meant to be as sedentary as office jobs force us to be, and society’s increased reliance on desk jobs reflects that in increasing health problems for office employees.
How to Stay Healthy
Unfortunately, it’s not possible for everyone to leave their desk jobs to find something more active. And studies have shown that hitting the gym before work or going on evening runs isn’t enough to counteract the hours you spent in a chair.
The only solution is to make your workday as active as possible. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Go on walks during lunch
- Stand up when you take phone calls
- Do stretches every two hours
- Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair
- Request a standing desk
- Get a desk bike
- Walk across the hall to deliver a message instead of emailing it
Being as active as possible in the workplace is the best way to keep yourself in good shape. It will reduce pain, help you keep the weight off, and keep your body functioning properly. It is also important to stay active once you get home. Flopping down on the couch and turning on the TV when you get home will only exacerbate your health problems.