Working at a desk all day long does not seem physically taxing at first. You are only sitting, right? Yes, but sitting for hours at a stretch comes with its own share of drawbacks. And we all know, being sedentary is far more dangerous than being active. It eventually leads to our bodies being incapable of performing important physical tasks.
With virtual offices on the rise and an increasing number of people choosing to work from home, a vast majority of employed people now spend their days hunched over a desk in front of a monitor. The result? Nearly 80 percent of Americans suffer from lower back pain, stiff neck, and other joint pain because of a sedentary lifestyle. Even when you exercise every day for an hour or two, the long hours spent at a desk can still be detrimental.
According to a study, spending eight to 12 hours sitting down daily can lead to high rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Considering there are millions of people who go through decades of their life in this scenario, the findings are alarming.
But all is not hopeless. It is possible to survive long hours working at a desk if one is willing to add a little change in the routine. These following tips help counteract the negative effects of a sedentary job.
Pick the right chair
More often than not, the reason for lower back pain is using the wrong chair. The chair that you use at home or the office may be either too low or too high, causing you to strain your neck as you look at the monitor. The remedy? An ergonomically designed chair that’s just the right height to the desk.
You might need to try out a few different chairs to find the perfect one, but once you do, it may be the answer to your aches and pains.
2. The right desk and monitor height
Once you have found the right chair, it will be time to adjust the height of your desk and the monitor. Most of the time, a desk that is either too low or too high, can cause aches and pains. Make sure you are looking straight at the monitor and not bending or hunching over the desk.
You don’t need any fancy equipment; just placing your computer atop a few books should do the job.
3. Use a standing desk
Counter the debilitating effects of prolonged sitting by getting a standing desk. Research shows that you can burn up to fifty extra calories every hour just by working at a standing desk, instead of sitting down. Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, standing actually helps improve your posture and strengthens your legs.
Considering the amount of time we spend sitting, using the same time to stand will burn so many more calories. Adjusting the height of your monitor is all you need to do.
4. Get up and walk
While sitting and working at a desk for long hours, we often lose track of time. We forget to get up and walk at frequent intervals, leading to stiff neck, joint pain, and backache. Whether you work from home or from an office, it is important to get up and walk around to avoid muscle stiffness.
To make sure of this, implement the use of regular reminders via apps on your phone or computer that will remind you every couple of hours to leave the chair and walk around. Going for a walk during your lunch break is also a good way to keep active and loosen your muscles.
5. Walk or cycle to work
Cars ruin our health more than we realize. If you commute to and from work daily, you may spend more than two or three hours sitting down every day. If possible, walk or try to bicycle to work sometimes to counteract the negative effects of sitting down. Both cycling and walking are great exercises for the body, and if your office is close by, ditching your car for your bike is a great way to save gas and incorporate a workout into the routine.
6. Exercise while watching TV
Instead of sitting and watching TV on a sofa, bring your treadmill out of retirement and place it in front of the television so you can use that time more constructively (and enjoyably) while watching a fantastic show. This will make sure that you get to watch TV only when you are walking, maximizing your time while taking care of your body.
If you don’t have exercise equipment, walk around the room or march in place while watching TV. Not being a couch potato will not only keep you active but also reduce your chances of cardiac problems.
7. Schedule a weekly walk or hike
After working at a desk the whole week, schedule a family walk or hike during the weekend. This is a fantastic way to keep yourself active and help your muscles relax after a sedentary week. It’s also an ideal way to spend some quality time with your family.
The average American is highly accustomed to sitting down. In fact, our bodies are trained to be seated – while eating, watching TV, and working. Even if you exercise every day, sitting long hours at a desk can negate all the benefits of exercise. For some perspective, there is a rural village in China known as the Longevity Village where people live up to a hundred years on average because of their lifelong active habits.
You don’t have to go to great lengths to be able to lead an active lifestyle. You can incorporate subtle changes in your life to balance out the harmful effects of a sedentary job. You may not be able to change the nature of your work, but you can always change the way you work.
Adjusting your desk and chair, walking around every half hour, and incorporating regular exercise into your work week and weekends are excellent ways to survive long hours working at a desk.