If you find yourself sitting at your desk at work for hours on end, it’s time to make a change. New research has found that frequently interrupting inactive behavior is crucial for your long-term health.
The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and other major news outlets recently reported surprising new research findings on what some call “sitting disease,” recommending desk workers to get up and move around every 30 minutes, a change from an earlier recommendation that simply encouraged standing once an hour.
Failure to do so, evidence shows, may shorten your life.
Prior research has also drawn similar conclusions – those who spend long hours sitting are at risk for numerous health-related issues. These risk results may range from nuisance ailments like sluggishness and reduced blood flow to the legs, to alarming ones like chronic lower back pain, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
This new study also emphasizes that while taking breaks throughout the day does help, taking them too infrequently will still cost you in the long term – even to the point of causing your life expectancy to dip. The experts made a point to emphasize that hitting the gym after work did not make up for long hours of sitting down – you must be moving around throughout the day.
Generally speaking, the more you get up and move around, the better off you will be – physically, emotionally and mentally.
Physical therapists frequently warn their patients that “chairs are evil,” as does Dr. Sloan Manning, a primary care physician at Novant Health Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine – located at 600 Highland Oaks Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He said he sees lots of patients in urgent care with chronic low back pain due to sedentary behavior – that is, long hours spent sitting.
“We encourage getting up frequently and moving around to keep your back from weakening,” he said, “and from allowing poor posture to basically take its toll on your back and back health. It’s a very common problem.”
As awareness toward workplace wellness has steadily grown, employers have begun to invest in ergonomic-friendly equipment that promotes free movement and blood flow. Ergonomics is the science of obtaining a correct match between the human body, work-related tasks and work tools.
Popular examples of these include standing desks and treadmill work stations.
“I am consistently recommending ergonomic workstations and standing workstations to my patients who work in these kinds of areas,” Manning said. “The first thing you might consider is go to your employer and say, ‘I’d like some ergonomic sort of accommodation for an existing problem, to prevent a problem,’ that kind of thing. Your employer will be likely to pay for one, because they don’t want you out of work for a lower back injury.”
Devices like these are designed to enhance your productivity by helping you move more easily throughout the day.
Do standing workstations fall outside your company budget? Simple tricks to remind you to move will suffice. Try setting an alarm on one of your devices, parking further away from your office and walking, taking more breaks to visit the water cooler to hydrate, and doing a few sets of squats at lunchtime to kick-start blood flow back to your legs. Plenty of other tips are out there, so be sure to pick what works best for you. Your body will thank you.