There is plenty of medical evidence indicating that our health is suffering because of the jobs that we do. Sitting down at a desk all day can take a toll on our health. There is little that we can do about the nature of our jobs but we can change our approach to how we do them. By altering our daily schedule, we can incorporate plenty of movement and exercise into our daily routine and our health will improve.
Health issues caused by sitting at a desk all day
There are health issues that can arise from a sedentary job and this applies if you work in an office, on a production line or if you work from home. Our bodies are not designed to stay in the same position for a prolonged period of time.
You may think that sitting down is a restful position but it actually puts a lot of strain on your lower back and on your neck and shoulders. If you have poorly designed and/or adjusted office furniture it makes the situation even worse. There is a build-up of tension in the muscles which leads to inflammation. This presses on nerves and causes pain. The pain may persist even when you are not in work because it takes a while for the tension to disperse.
Computer work requires lots of small movements that are repeated over and over again. Think about this the next time you type something or move a mouse. You are not moving your hands very far but they could be moving up to a hundred times in a minute and that builds up to many thousands over the course of a day. The also leads to localised inflammation and can cause a condition called repetitive strain injury (RSI). Once it has established itself, RSI can be very difficult to cure. It is always best to prevent it in the first place.
A healthy desk means a healthy you!
If you feel that your health is beginning to suffer because you sit at a desk all day it is time to do something about it.
You have to invest in the best quality equipment. Start with your IT equipment. If you buy an ergonomic mouse and mouse mat your wrist will be supported when you are working. You should look into getting high-quality Dell tft monitors because they are fully adjustable so that you will not have to maintain your neck in an awkward position which builds up tension.
Your chair is vital to maintaining your postural health. There are three vital elements that you should be able to adjust:
- The height of the chair. We are all different heights and so one height is not going to suit us all! Tall people can end up with their legs bent at a severe angle and shorter people can be left with their feet dangling in mid-air! If you can adjust the height of the chair, you can plant your feet firmly on the ground and this supports the lower back.
- The height of the chair back. Most office chairs come with some sort of lumbar support. This provides support to the natural curve of the lower back but if your body is ‘longer’ or ‘shorter’ than average it could end up in totally the wrong pace. If you can adjust the back of the chair upwards and downwards you can set it at the right position for you.
- Spring loaded chair backs. A spring-loaded chair back will provide constant and gentle support to your back. However, if you are very light, it could end up catapulting you forwards so the best chairs allow you to alter the tension.
Your desk exercise regime
Don’t confine exercise to outside the office. Start your own mini exercise routine whilst you are sitting at your desk. Set your smartphone timer to alert every 20 minutes. When the alarm goes off you have to move. Stand up if you can and roll your shoulders to release tension. Raise your arms above your head a few times to get the blood pumping. Circle your ankles and bend your knees. If you are not able to stand up you could do this is in a seated position.
Every hour you should stand up and walk around. Go and do some filing, visit the toilet or go and get a cup of coffee or a fresh glass of water.
This routine is not just good for your muscles and your joints. It is also great for your heart, lungs and circulatory system.
Gadgets to help you keep moving
There are some whacky trends in workplace exercise gadgets and some will probably not catch on! If you work for someone else, you probably won’t have the chance to try these out but if you work from home you could give them a go!
Sit-stand office desks have become more popular in the last couple of years. They are desks that you can either sit or stand at. In theory, they should work because sitting causes a lot of the postural problems. However, there are postural problems associated with maintaining any position for a prolonged period of time and that includes standing up. Changing your position frequently is probably more beneficial.
Something even more out of the ordinary is treadmill and bicycle desks. With these, you really are moving and could burn some calories whilst you are working. However, your brain is trying to concentrate on two things at the same time and this can lead to a loss of focus. You may find that your productivity falls. There may also be health and safety issues because you could fall as well!
Modern technology may be able to help. You can now get posture trackers which let you know, via a vibration, when you are starting to slouch. They fix onto your body or to onto your clothing. They can only work properly if you are using an ergonomic chair and can get into the correct postural position easily. If this is not the case, it will alarm will be triggered all the time and will be very distracting!