How Your Desk Job is Slowly Killing You: the dangers of sitting at work

According to a recent study, “on average, adults in Western countries spend between 55% and 70% of their day sedentary” (Chau 2013). For the average person who spends about 16 hours a day awake, that equals out to be about 9-11 hours of sitting each day!

To make it even worse, the same study found out that “that each additional hour of daily sitting is associated with an overall 2% increased risk of all-cause mortality.” If you have a desk job, I’m sure you spend more time than you’d like sitting. If you start to do the math, it can get frightening!

But the good news is that it’s not too late to do something about it. And no, you don’t need to quit your job! Why not try sneaking a little more movement into your day?

A study done in 2012 analyzed the effects of workers when their desks were switched to standing desks for a small portion of the day. Throughout the study, they found that a standing desk “reduced time spent sitting by 224% (66 minutes per day), reduced upper back and neck pain by 54%, and improved mood states” (Pronk 2012). Interestingly enough, when the office removed the standing desks all of the benefits that they saw were gone in about 2 weeks. This means that all we need to do is remove about 66 minutes of sitting time to benefit. This might sound like a lot, but when you break it into smaller segments, it’s not so bad. Try this:

  • When possible, get up and speak to someone in person instead of email/phone
  • Go the long way to the bathroom/water fountain
  • Take 5 minutes every hour to stand and stretch
  • Go for a 30 minute walk during your lunch break

With just these 3 items, you could potentially decrease your sitting time by almost 90 minutes! Time really does add up!

Need some great stretches that you can do secretively at your desk? Try these:

  • Neck circles – circle your neck slowly 5 times in each direction
  • Chest stretch – interlock your fingers behind your back and pull to stretch out your chest
  • Upper back stretch – interlock your fingers in front of you and pull forward, separating your shoulder blades
  • Hamstring stretch – stand up and try to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight
  • Wrist circles – circle your wrists slowly 5 times in each direction
  • Calf raises – stand up and do 10 calf raises (raising up onto your toes) to get the blood flowing in your legs

If you don’t think you have time to get up and move around at work, think about what you’re doing to your health. Sure you might feel fine now, but what about 10 years from now when the sitting really starts to add up? Start now to get ahead of the game and prevent future problems!

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