Sitting

Research into sitting has become the new hot button topic.  Labelled a public health "epidemic", sitting has even been described as the "new smoking".  We have become a “Sitting Society” spending on average over 9 hours per day on our backsides.  

 

  • We sit at mealtimes. 
  • We sit commuting to and from work. (average Lower Mainland commute is 1 hr. 2x/day
  • We sit all day at the office working at a desk, on the computer or in meetings. 
  • We sit in the evenings to watch T.V or the computer.

 

 

Olympic athletes train for multiple hours almost everyday for months and years. If sitting were an Olympic event we’d be over trained! Even people who regularly exercise for an hour each day have been called active couch potatoes, because they can still be sitting for the rest of the day.

Sitting as a health issue is about more than just proper posture and correct workstations.  Evidence now suggests that constant sitting is particularly bad for your cardiovascular system, weight management, your metabolic (syndrome) health and even your longevity.  One solution proposed is a sit/stand desk to vary your work position over the day.  Prolonged sitting or standing is however not a cure all either.  The real solution is to find ways of adding movement, of any kind, to your day and minimizing longer periods of straight sitting.  For example:

  • try walking down the hall or climb the stairs to talk to a colleague rather than using email, texting or the elevator..
  • get up to retrieve a fax or printed work.
  • sit on a fitness ball for part of the day.
  • walk around the office or at lunch.
  • try a walking meeting rather than more hours of sitting.
  • in short just move it.

Follow the link below to view a short video that highlights these issues.  Watch this video 

Sitting Tips: 

  • Use a comfortable chair with your lower back supported by an appropriate back rest.  If the support is poor use a small rolled up towel behind your lower back to help maintain the normal curve.
  • Use a foot rest if necessary to allow your knees to be level with or just above your hips. 
  • Practice a relaxed upright posture and avoid slumping, leaning forward or to one side. 
  • Cross your legs at your ankles and not your knees.
  • Avoid sitting with one leg folded up under your hip or pelvis.
  • Take mini stretch breaks every half hour to move your neck, shoulders and trunk around. Better yet, stand, move and practice extension stretches.
  • When watching TV move around during commercials.
  • Get out and walk at lunch even for a few minutes. 

Work stations
Many of the associated problems of sitting are a function of the desk set up. Ergonomics is the study of adapting the workplace to the individual. Correct placement of the computer screen, keyboard and mouse are important to reduce fatigue and promote better positioning. Reading off of copy or other materials can be aided by raising it at an angle rather than laying flat on your desk.  Correcting work station errors can lead to:  

  • Reduced physical and mental stress. 
  • Less headaches or eyestrain 
  • Decreased neck and back pain. 
  • Reduced inflammation and pain that often arise with tasks that are repeated over and over (repetitive strain injuries) 
  • Help maintain a greater degree of comfort when working

Ergonomic Tips to reduce injury risk:  

  • When placing your hands on the keyboard your upper arms should be hanging down at your side in a relaxed fashion. 
  • Be able to sit or stand comfortably without feeling specific stress in the body. 
  • You should be able to keep a neutral position of your neck, when looking at your screen, without looking up, down, left or right repeatedly or for long periods of time. 
  • Avoid twisting, leaning or bending at the waist while seated. 
  • Change positions and postures frequently. 
  • 15-30 second micro breaks done repeatedly over the day can help prevent the buildup of postural strain. 
  • Take breaks every 30-40 minutes to stretch lightly, walk or move any way you can.
  • Don’t pinch phones between the ear and shoulder.

For appropriate workstation set up, follow the diagram below: