As countries all around the world are learning to live alongside the coronavirus, the workplace has shifted. The demand for flexible working environments and schedules is continuing to increase. It’s estimated that up to 30% of the U.S workforce will be working from home one or more days after the pandemic. As the spare bedroom becomes the home office and many people cut the commute, sitting too much and moving less can have lasting effects on your health.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four American adults sits for more than eight hours a day. With multiple lockdowns and people staying indoors, Americans are sitting more than ever. Despite COVID-19 restrictions easing, people are still sitting for prolonged periods and feeling the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
What Are the Effects of Sitting Too Much?
There is a vast amount of research that shows the positive health benefits of movement and exercise. But, many people work sedentary jobs and end up sitting for hours at a time each day. If you do live a sedentary lifestyle, it can impact your health and body in several ways.
Research shows that sitting for extended periods can be a significant cause of back pain. It increases stress on the neck, back, arms, and legs, adding a lot of pressure to the spine and back muscles.
Symptoms of sitting too much include:
Tight hip flexors
Sitting for a long time can do more than cause back pain. When you sit, many people adopt poor posture. As the day goes on, you arch your neck slightly, and tension grows in the shoulders, back, and muscles. Over time, the back can start to curve forward. At the same time, your hips can become weaker, and knee pain can develop.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a sedentary lifestyle increases all causes of mortality and doubles your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. It also increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and osteoporosis.
5 Ways to Counteract the Effects of Sitting All Day
The effects of sitting all day can be tough on the body. Fortunately, there are things you can do to counteract sitting and improve your overall well-being. Try to incorporate these five tips into your day to offset the effects of sitting too much.
Adopt a Better Sitting Posture
People who sit for long periods are more likely to adopt poor posture. A bad posture can result in overstretching ligaments as well as impact the joints and spinal discs. Over time, this could cause stiffness and back pain. One of the best ways to avoid these problems is by adopting a good sitting posture. Your feet should be flat on the floor or a footrest. Try to avoid crossing your knees or ankles. Keep your shoulders relaxed and sit up straight.
Take Regular Breaks
A massive number of Americans spend their workday sitting. It’s essential that you take regular breaks throughout the day. Not only does this help with counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting, but it can also reduce stress and lead to higher productivity.
Try to incorporate stretching into your day. Staying in one spot and repeating the same movements is typical of a desk job. Poor posture and sitting for long periods can leave you feeling stiff and uncomfortable. Getting into the habit of stretching throughout the day or going for walk breaks to the coffee machine can help combat the effects of sitting. One way to add more stretching to your routine is with some gentle lunchtime yoga.
Set a Movement Reminder
According to research published in the Bristol Journal of Sports Medicine, 30-40 minutes of physical activity reduces the risk associated with a sedentary lifestyle. So, it’s crucial that you move throughout the day. This could be a lunchtime walk or post-work home fitness class. If you find it tough to incorporate more movement into your day, start by setting a movement reminder once an hour so that you stand up and walk somewhere away from your desk.
Evaluate Your Work Environment
Ergonomics is the process of designing the work environment so that it fits around people. That means creating a workspace that increases comfort and reduces the risk of injury. If you’re sitting all day, evaluate your work environment. A poor work set-up can magnify and even cause back pain. Elements like seat height, keyboard distance, and screen placement are all factors that come into play with workplace ergonomics.
Whether you work from home or are back in the office, it can be hard to escape the effects of sitting too much. But by increasing your awareness and giving yourself the opportunity to move more, you can develop healthy habits to bring balance, reduce discomfort, and decrease your risk of developing back pain.
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