You’re sitting behind your desktop computer and you tilt your head just slightly. You can hear the beginnings of an audibly small crack coming from your neck. Leaning back, you can also hear your spine making impressive popping noises that you didn’t know it was capable of making.
Checking back on the clock, you realise that you’ve been in the same stationary position for 4 hours straight. Your bum feels numb, too.
We don’t realise that we spend hours just sitting. Whether it would be inside meetings, doing your office work behind your desk, watching TV, or on the couch scrolling through your social media for fear of missing out. What can completely slip from our mind is that being stationary for many hours can also be detrimental to your health.
The Effects of Sitting Too Long
Being dormant on your chair can lead to a variety of effects that you might not be fully aware of. According to the director of Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, Dr. James Levine mentions that sitting is even more dangerous than smoking, taking more lives than HIV, which is a pretty alarming fact.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working during the day and getting your workout in the evenings ; it still won’t completely neutralise the average 9 hours people spend sitting down each day.
Here are a couple of things that affect your body if you spend most of the day rooted to your chair:
Back, Lower Back and Neck Pain
These are the more obvious symptoms that crop up as you will be able to feel it happening immediately. By accumulating the days of bad sitting posture, the frequent muscle aches will start to become a new normal. And you absolutely do not want that happening.
Most people would crane their neck forward when they are facing a computer, creating a slouching posture. This leads to strains in the cervical vertebrae, causing a stiff neck, sore shoulders and lower back pain.
I’ve had friends who have started working in an office environment saying that they’ve gained weight even though they’ve been having the same portion of meals as before. Sitting down for a strenuous amount of hours can lead to obesity. The reason being that sitting slows down the metabolism in your body, making it easier for a person to gain weight easily.
As you sit on your chair for prolonged periods of time, this will eventually take effect on the blood circulation in your legs, causing fluid to pool in the legs. This may result to swollen ankles as well as dangerous blood clots.
The blood flows more slowly during a long sitting, which can cause fatty acids to allow themselves to easily clog the heart resulting in heart diseases. High blood pressures, increased cholesterol levels, leading to cardiovascular diseases. These are the actions happening inside the body due to extended hours of sitting.
So how can we prevent this from happening, especially if the nature of your workplace requires you to sit down behind the desk the whole day?
These are some of the activities you can do to break away from the monotonous staring of the desktop screen in front of you. It’s a good start to curb the above negative factors that take a toll on the body.
Walk around the office
Starting off easy, take a stroll around the office, especially after being in an idle state. You deserve the break for the betterment of your health. Take a simple walk for about 5 minutes around the compound. Once you get back to your seat, you will at least have your mind feeling refreshed and the blood flow in your legs circulating well. Just remember not to disturb your fellow colleagues while you are wandering around the office.
Hit the stairs
Avoid the elevators going to your office floor, but I suppose you can get away with this if your workplace is located on the 32nd floor. Take an average of 4-5 flight of stairs to get your heart pumping and your legs burning.
It’s fine if you don’t feel inclined to perform push ups on the floor. An alternative would be against a solid wall, as well as a solid desk. 10 reps for 2-3 sets will suffice.
On the desk exercises
If you really don’t feel like going out of your cubicle, then these are some forms of exercises which you can do inside the vicinity of your desk:
This can be done while sitting on your chair. If you ever feel like your legs are feeling numb from all the standstill, start by planting your feet on the ground, still in sitting position, then raise your foot and straighten the leg. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds. Alternate with the other foot. You will feel your thighs burning as well as tightening of the abs, if done correctly.
Stand behind your chair for support. Start with your feet together and slowly shift your weight to the balls of your feet so that you’re tiptoeing. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. You will feel your calf muscles tightening and strengthening.
Tricep book press
Much like handling the dumbbells in the gym, this technique can be applied with the heaviest book on your table. Hold the book behind your head and extend your arms up slowly. Drop it back down by your neck and repeat. Have a go of 15 reps for 2-3 sets and your triceps will be having a field day.
Practice having a straight posture while sitting
Pay attention to the way you’re sitting in front of the computer. Keep your back straight and try not to jut your head forward, this will strain your neck. Always have your keyboard and mouse close to you so that you’re also not putting tension on your arms and shoulders. Avoid crossing your legs while sitting, because this will put pressure on your hips and waist. By being diligent on your posture, you won’t have to worry too much on back pains and stiff necks constantly.
Practice these tips and tricks at the office. They will make your body more active during those sluggish days. Always be mindful of how much time you spend idling as you focus on the computer screen. Set an interval alarm for every two hours and take the first step of walking around for a minute or two. Get going!