Sitting at your office desk is the new smoking in the workplace, and it may be slowly draining your health.

While all jobs require a mix of standing, walking, and sitting, some jobs require one to sit more than they stand or walk. A  2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey involving American workers revealed that most people employed in corporate jobs, including lawyers, accountants, human resource managers, and software designers spent more than 75 percent of their time sitting, posing a serious health threat.

The Problem with Too Much Sitting

Sitting for too long each day implies having a sedentary lifestyle, whether or not one exercises. This has adverse effects on breathing, blood circulation, and posture, increasing the risk of several diseases.

Physical inactivity is linked to more than 3 million preventable deaths every year globally, ranking as the fourth leading cause of death resulting from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

In the wake of this, many employers and health institutions  are beginning to promote less sitting at the workplace, having policies that help employees cut physical inactivity during work hours.

The health risks of prolonged sitting include:

Obesity

Apart from the fact that prolonged sitting reduces your energy expenditure, which in turn increases fat accumulation in the body, physical inactivity also impairs the breakdown of fats and sugars in the body.

The consequent imbalance between energy intake and expenditure leads to an unhealthy weight gain and obesity. Obesity, in turn, raises the risk of several deadly non-communicable diseases, including metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

Chronic Joint Pains

When you sit for too long, you overstretch and strain the muscles of the legs and hips and this may cause them to become tight and short.

These muscles protect the joints of the hip and back and when they become inflexible and short, especially if you maintain a poor sitting posture, they cause problems for your hip joint and back.

Spending a long time hunched back over your desk or computer may also lead to stiff neck and pains in the shoulders.

Heart Disease

Sitting for long periods has been linked to heart disease: experts say that people who sit for long periods have a 147 percent greater risk of developing heart disease (heart attacks and stroke). Also, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that sitting for long hours raises the risk of dying of heart disease by 18 percent.

Diabetes

Sitting for too long impairs tissue sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. This leads to diabetes, as excess sugar is underutilized by tissues, accumulating in the blood. Research shows that sitting for long periods raises the risk of diabetes by more than 112 percent.

Cancer

Physical inactivity has been linked to certain types of cancer, including the lungs, colon, and endometrium. A review published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals that too much sitting may raise the risk of colon cancer by 24 percent, the risk of lung cancer by 21 percent, and the risk of endometrial cancer by 24 percent.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. Sitting for too long is one of the main risk factors for DVT because it causes stasis or pooling of blood in the legs.

Mental Illness

Sitting too much each day has been linked to anxiety disorders and depression. Although this link is not clear to experts, it may be due to the lack of exercise and fitness, which is an antidote for mental illness.

 

Strategies to combat too much sitting at your office desk

Movement is the key –  here are simple solutions:

Change how you sit

Move while you sit. A number of innovative seats help to redefine workplace design by promoting motion seating.  Swopper chairs allow for rocking, bouncing, and perching while also helping to maintain a good posture.

Recreate your workstation

One way you could ensure you move around often is setting things up in your office to get you up often – place the printer, copy machine, and other office items away from your desk, so you have to walk to reach them every time you need them.

Also, raise your work surface to a height that keeps you standing while you work. Standing for three hours every day can burn up to30,000 calories. That’s the same thing you get after running 10 marathons!

Stand up and Stretch every hour

After every hour of sitting, take a walk around the office or just walk outside to get some fresh air. You may set a ringer to go off when it’s time

You can also take short exercise breaks at intervals. Stand-ups, squats, arm rolls, yoga stretches are a few exercises you could try at your desk.

Walk to a co-worker instead of sending them an email; take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Host walking meetings

Employers can set up walking meetings to curb physical inactivity in the workplace. This not only burns excess calories, but it also boosts mental clarity, creativity, mood, and energy levels.

Engage in corporate yoga & wellness programs

Corporate yoga & wellness programs are a great way to encourage movement in the office. From gentle yoga, pilates and tai chi classes, they not only encourage movement and improve your physical health, but wellness programs also help to create team bonding and reduce mental injury. In return this is shown to make staff happier and more productive at work! A win win for everybody!

Talk to ask about corporate wellness programs at your workplace.