Sedentary lifestyle factors are no doubt affecting our health and fitness and will continue with the introduction of new technology. The body thrives with movement and wasn’t designed to be as inactive as we are. Whether you have noticed it or not technology is now deeply integrated into our everyday life from work, communication and how we interact. Where before simple tasks were done manually there is now a more efficient and quicker way to perform it on a computer, laptop or mobile. Although tasks may be more efficient and save us time have you thought of the impact this has on our health and daily habits? How can we harness technology and at the same time use it to improve our health.
Sitting for hours has been compared to smoking as a health risk, and is now associated with an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, liver disease and death from heart disease. Recent articles and statements may be a little farfetched in stating sitting is the new smoking. Their premise and intention does highlight the fact we are seating for too long and exercising less. Anup Kanodia a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center states that "Sitting is the new smoking". As evidence, he cites an Australian study published in October 2012 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that compared the very two. Every hour of TV that people watch, presumably while sitting, cuts about 22 minutes from their life span, the study's authors calculated. This was contrasted with a study, which estimated that smokers shorten their lives by about 11 minutes per cigarette.
I don't think sitting will ever be as much of a risk as smoking. I find it nearly impossible to compare the two but if it helps promote health and getting people active and moving at the desk then I’m happy its getting the word out there. It is estimated that we spend approximately 80% of our day sitting. If you’re an office worker who spends most of their time a computer who also smokes be aware. The new generation is somewhat infected by the pandemic slowly turning us into technologically reliant zombies. It’s great if you love your job so much that you can spend hours absorbed in it. However it’s not ideal to spend all those hours glued to your chair.
Are you aware of your posture at work? At the end of the day do you notice your chin centimetres away from the screen or your shoulders rounding forward. Perfect posture for the whole day is unrealistic but improving your awareness and breaking your day up this will help in the long run. Here are a few tips that will help you get up from your desk more and be more proactive about your posture.
1. Ergonomically set your desk right from the start. I hear too often that a worker gets moved to another desk setup without adjusting their seat, desk and computer screen height to suit them.
2. Consider getting a standing desk. If you have lower back pain standing can take pressure off your back. You are not the only one with back pain. Most likely other people in the office are in the same boat and wanting to get a standing desk too. Standing burns more calories throughout the day than sitting.
3. Don’t put up with faulty or old equipment. Ask the boss for a new ergonomic chair, mouse and other equipment as needed.
4. Set a reminder on your phone to get up and moving every 30 minutes to an hour. Whether it be getting a water, going to the toilet or printer any excuse is a good excuse to get up and moving. Apps like Stand up for Android or Stand Up! for iPhone will make sure that you don’t let being in the zone destroy your health.
5. Get a fellow worker to take a photo of you when you are busy working away. Visually seeing your posture can really help your awareness. You may be quite surprised how poor your posture looks.
6. If you’re talking on the phone or reading some notes stand up and walk around.
7. Perform stretches at the desk of your neck, shoulders, hips and legs. Engage and squeeze your glutes and abs to strengthen.
8. Use your lunch break to eat outside and go for a walk. Close by health centres may have classes at lunch time from fitness, yoga and meditation.
9. See a physical therapist to help correct and maintain your posture. They can release muscles imbalances and provide corrective stretches and exercises for you to do.