If you're a deskbound office worker, your health could be at serious risk, experts say. However, on September 12, health news website MyHealthNewsDaily offers a six-point strategy to reduce your risks without losing your job.
Growing scientific research suggests that sitting can raise your risks for a host of problems, including obesity and diabetes. This is especially true if your off-hours include time lounging in front of the television or commuting.
In one study, researchers found that people who spend more than two hours per day of leisure time watching television or sitting in front of a screen face double the risk of heart disease.
In addition, hours at your desk can increase risks for musculoskeletal issues, such as tension headaches and repetitive strain injuries.
Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University in the US, told MyHealthNewsDaily that it's important to sit in a "healthy way." Otherwise "you put unhealthy forces on your body," he adds. "Some of these injuries are life-changing, but anything associated with sitting is entirely preventable."
Here are MyHealthDailyNews' top six tips on healthy sitting:
1. Use an adjustable chair: In an office setting, adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, and use the tilt mechanism on the seat to keep your thighs parallel to the floor and the desktop.
2. Stay in alignment: Be mindful of your back and posture when working, and arrange your desk so that you don't need to twist, lean, or hunch to see your monitor or reach your keyboard.
3. Focus on your eyes: To curb eye strain, position the middle of your computer screen at chin level, about an arm's reach away.
4. Use a chair with armrests: If possible, use a chair with adjustable armrests and keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees while staying tucked into your sides.
5. Uncross your legs: Crossing your legs can restrict blood flow and force the spine to bend by redistributing the pelvis's weight to one leg. Cross your legs at your ankles if necessary.
6. Take micro-breaks every 20 to 30 minutes: Get up, move around, or at least move your shoulders and take deep breaths to relieve muscle tension. Other ideas to get moving include standing up to take phone calls, walking to see a colleague rather than emailing, and taking the stairs instead of the lift where possible.