Sitting at a desk all day does more harm to your health than you may initially think. After all, what harm can come from sitting down? Well, this article will be composed of two sections. The first section will explain exactly how your health suffers from sitting down all day. The second section will bring you actionable points and tips to remain healthy at your desk. By the time you’ve reached the end, you should have a great idea of the damage your desk is doing to your body, and how to solve it.
So, let’s kick things off with section one:
The Health Problems Associated With Sitting At Your Desk
How long do you spend at your desk every day? It’s probably a good few hours with hardly any breaks in between. Sitting for extended periods does a lot to your body, and you’ll be very surprised at what happens. Here are the most common and worrying health problems:
Sitting at a desk is known to cause chronic pain in people of all ages. Most notably, you will deal with lower back pain. However, mid-back, shoulder, and neck pain are all incredibly common as well. The reason for all of this pain is that your posture is poor. Most chairs and desks are not ergonomically correct. In essence, they make you sit with an arched lower back, with rounded shoulders looking down at a computer screen. When you’re in this position every single day, your body starts to get used to it. It’s a horrible position for your spine to be in and the muscles around your back and shoulders become unbalanced.
What typically happens is your lower back gets very tight, as do your trapezius muscles, neck extensors, and chest. You carry your pain with you even when you’re not at your desk. It can plague your life and leave you constantly in need of relief.
This is not strictly associated with sitting at a desk, but more to do with your actions at the desk. If you’re on a computer for hours on end, it will damage your eyesight. You start squinting at the screen, your eyes dry out, and the light from the computer can harm your vision.
Obviously, this can cause life-changing problems that mean you need glasses.
High blood pressure
Being sat at your desk for hours on end can increase your blood pressure. This happens because your body isn’t moving around. So, blood doesn’t flow as fluidly as it should. This leads to a build-up of pressure in the arteries, raising your blood pressure levels.
Similarly, there’s something to be said about your chronic pain and blood pressure too. Back pain has been linked to rising blood pressure levels by many specialists. It’s believed this is because your body becomes stressed – due to the pain and tightness – leading to the increase. Either way, it’s not good for you at all.
The big issue with this is that hypertension is connected to so many heart problems. Loads of cardiovascular diseases are brought on by high blood pressure. As such, you are at a high risk of developing heart disease.
Obviously, sitting down all day is not great for your physical health. If you’re sat at a desk for 6 hours a day, that’s 6 hours of inactivity. It is proven that people who are sat at desks will gain weight faster than people who are active.
It comes down to a combination of inactivity and greediness. So many people have snacks at their desk that they nibble on throughout the day. In effect, you don’t burn many calories by sitting for hours, and you consume extra ones through your snacks.
Finally, working at your desk can lead to an increase in stress. You feel so much pressure build inside you because you’re stuck at your desk. Again, this often comes as a side effect of your back and neck pain. Having tense shoulders or back can really make you feel stressed. The physical tension turns into mental tension!
How do you stay healthy at your desk?
At the start of this piece, you may have had your doubts about how unhealthy sitting at a desk is. Now, you should be more aware of how damaging it is to your body and mind. The good news is that you don’t have to fall victim to all of these problems. And, if you already experience some, you can take action and reverse them.
With that in mind, here’s how you stay healthy at your desk:
Improve your ergonomics
Most of you don’t sit very ergonomically at your desk. You slouch, you have a bad chair, and so on. Creating an ergonomic setup means you put your body in the right positions. Your back is straight, your spine curves naturally, your shoulders are back and your neck doesn’t fall forward. All of a sudden, you align your spine and get rid of your chronic pain.
Okay, it won’t happen instantly. In fact, you may feel more discomfort when you switch to an ergonomic setup. Don’t worry, this is normal. Your body isn’t used to being in its proper position, so all the dormant muscles are suddenly active for the first time in years. It can take a day or two to adjust, but you will see the benefits after. Yes, massaging and stretching your muscles can help you get rid of the pain. However, it won’t leave until you correct your posture at your desk. The video below walks you through a great ergonomic setup:
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Don’t have food at your desk
There’s no possible reason to have food at your desk. Why? Why are you eating lunch at your desk? You should be outside enjoying fresh air or somewhere else. Eating will only clutter your desk and make it messy. Not to mention you bring snacks or sugary drinks and have them by you all day long. Keep your desk clear of any food and drink, preventing you from snacking throughout the day.
Realistically, the only drink you should have at your desk is water. This is the best drink for your health and wellness – and it contains no calories. Keep yourself hydrated, and also use water to fill up your stomach and avoid those hunger cravings for snacks!
This point has two different stems to it. Firstly, if you have bad eyesight, you need to wear proper prescription glasses. You can get these from an optometrist, and you should wear them while you work. It prevents excessive squirting, can get rid of headaches, and stops your eyes from getting even worse.
Secondly, get blue light glasses to wear while staring at screens. This is for all people, no matter how good your eyesight is. Blue light is dangerous and can harm your health. Not only that, but it’s the main reason you squint all the time at your computer. With these special glasses, you can protect yourself from this light. It’s such an easy way to keep your eyes healthy while you work.
Yes, it really is that simple! Stop sitting at your desk for hours and move around.
I can already see some of the complaints you’re having:
- I have to sit at a desk all day it’s part of my job
- How can I just get up and move around in the office?
- It’s a bit awkward doing exercise in front of all my coworkers
- My boss won’t let be take rests
In reality, these complaints are utter nonsense. Let’s take the first and last ones, which are both mainly about not being allowed to move. This is a ridiculous notion that no boss can enforce. You are allowed to stand up, stretch, and walk around for less than five minutes. It’s a basic human right, and you can probably sue them if they strictly try and stop you. In fact, tell them you suffer from back pain because of the desk – that will put a stop to their complaints. They’ll know you can technically claim money from them for this if your pain is bad enough. So, restrictions aren’t an issue.
The other two complaints are more about what you can do to be active at work. Don’t worry, I’m not saying you need to start exercising. All you have to do is stand up and stretch. That’s literally the only task you have to complete. Maybe walk around a bit to get more blood flow to your legs. This gives your body a break from sitting down and can loosen muscle tightness. It also prevents your body from being fixed into a bad sitting posture. Take mini-breaks every hour to ensure you stretch or walk for about 5 minutes, maybe less.
On that note, you’ve come to the end of this guide. Hopefully, it’s shown you just how bad sitting at a desk all day is. I know, it’s unavoidable for many of you. Still, you should also be aware of what to do at work to prevent all the health issues associated with sitting.