Why does Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Somerville recommend standing up from your desk job every 30 minutes?
By now you’ve probably heard about the latest health scare sweeping the nation and leading people to wonder how they’ve been so oblivious to it for so long. No, not trans fats. Not even gluten or refined sugars. At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Somerville, Union, Woodbridge and Edison, NJ, we’re talking about the dangers of too much sitting.
These days, a sizable portion of the population works office jobs, which means sitting at a desk on a computer for most of each shift. Add in the commute to and from work, “sitting down” for dinner and then possibly some TV-watching afterward, and you’ve got a typical day for most people in which the majority of hours are spent sitting.
Recent research has linked this excessive sitting with a variety of health issues, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and it has also been associated with increased blood pressure and blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Even more grim, too much time sitting has been found to increase the risk of cancer and untimely death.
More immediately, though, many people who spend most of their days sitting may notice issues with their back. Sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time can lead to the development of low back pain and can worsen any existing back problems.
The main reason is that sitting in an office chair is a static posture that puts stress on the back, shoulders, arms and legs, and more than anything else, it increases pressure on the spinal discs of the lower back, which can result in pain. When you add bad posture and craning or slouching over the desk—as the tendency often becomes after sitting for a while—the risk for back problems is even greater.
This may paint a frightening picture of something most of us do every day, but help is on the way: new science very convincingly shown that standing up for 20-30 minutes, even for only one or two minutes, reduces your risk for developing back pain, as well as heart disease and diabetes. Standing and changing your posture will relieve the tension on the nerves in your neck and mid-back, and also prompts the body to burn calories. Here are some tips to help you stand more regularly throughout the day:
- Set a reminder every 20-30 minutes during your work day to stand up and walk around; visit coworkers in person instead of emailing/calling them, have walking meetings, and do some cardio whenever possible
- Consider one of the many alternatives for a standard desk, such as an exercise ball or backless stool to work core muscles or a stand-up desk
- If you work at home (or if possible at the office) take quick breaks every so often to do some yoga or other exercises to keep the blood flowing
- It also helps to set your desk up ergonomically: adjust your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, buttocks at the back of the chair, back and neck straight and computer right at or right below eye level
- After dinner, instead of turning the TV, go for a walk with your family
- When you do watch TV at home, try getting up during each commercial break or standing and doing chores or exercises as often as possible
Sitting may seem like an unavoidable part of our modern lives, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless against it. Take matters into your own hands by taking frequent breaks at your desk or considering an alternative that allows you to work while standing. For more information or for any aches or pains you may be experiencing, contact Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Somerville, Woodbridge, Union or Edison, NJ—where we have four convenient locations—at 908-393-9877 to schedule an appointment.