As a nation, we have become increasingly less active. For many people the working day means sitting at your desk. Add to that sitting down while travelling to and from work, and spending a lot of time sat down in the evening! The problems is that sedentary behaviour such as spending all day sitting at your desk can be bad for your posture and your health
Is sitting down a health risk?
There is growing research evidence that a range of serious health risks are may be connected to prolonged or excessive sitting. That’s bad news if you are sat at your desk for long periods.
The health problems associated with prolonged periods of sitting down include a greater risk of: weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer, back or neck pain, muscle degeneration and more. Check out the Get Britain Standing website for more details of the risk of sedentary behaviour or their expert statement the risks associated with the sedentary office.
So there is growing evidence to support the benefits of being more active in our workplaces. Even if you are desk based there are simple ways that you can bring a little activity into your day.
Tips for a health day at your desk
- Remember to take breaks from your screen – this is for your eyes and opportunity to move.
- Try to stand up and move about when you can – stand up when on the phone, try stand up meetings (you might find they are shorter too!)
- Walk across the office to speak to someone rather than emailing them.
- Commit to using the stairs not the lift.
- Go for a lunchtime walk – getting away from you desk and out the office has benefits for your health and can boost you concentration and productivity in the afternoon.
- Ask your employer about getting some sit-stand desks.
If, like many people, you are tied to a desk and a computer for long periods you’ll know that this can result in poor posture, back ache and stiff shoulders. When working at our PC we know we should sit up with a good neutral spine. So this might be a good time to give your workstation an ‘MOT’ and make sure it is set up to support good posture.
Even if you set up your workstation properly, you can soon slip into bad habits. All too often you’ll find yourself slouching , your shoulders rounding or your head tilting down. Firstly, you can be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Making a quick mental check of your posture as you go to a new email or wait for something to download would be a good start. There are also some simple stretches and exercises you can do at your desk to relieve stiffness, and can help improve your posture.
Exercises and stretches you can do to be active at your desk
- Shoulder rolls – simply sit up straight and roll your shoulder up and back to shrugs
- Chest stretches – bring your arms up to shoulder level and out to the side, bend your elbows at 90 degrees so your forearms are vertical. Now push your elbows back to stretch across your chest
- Shoulder squeezes – sit up straight and roll your shoulders back (see no 1), then hold your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder level – like a T shape. Squeeze your shoulder blades together (it’s only a small movement) and relax.
- Glute squeezes – your glutes are the muscles in your bottom that you sit on. Sit up straight, and simply squeeze these muscles (you should feel yourself lifting up slightly as your do). Hold for a few seconds and relax. Do both sides together our do alternate sides.
- Trunk twists – keeping your hips levels and still, rotate at the waist turning to one side and then other.
Ok, so you may get a few funny looks in the office. But explain to your colleagues what you are doing and why – you never know they may join in! Doing these during the day (a little and often) can ensure you are not fixed in one position for any length of time. They will also strengthen your core and back muscles to help you maintain good posture while sitting
If you want more help strengthening your core muscles and improving your flexibility get in touch.