Did you know the average office worker sits up to 13 hours a day? Our society is built around sitting – at your desk, in your car, and in front of the television. Doctors and researchers have been warning us about the dangers of prolonged sitting for years; prolonged sitting is associated with higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, depression and pain. An expert even described sitting as “more dangerous than smoking; it kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death!” The more we learn about how dangerous to our health prolonged sitting is, the more we should ask: “What can we do about it?”
Get up and move!
Physical therapy is about using movement as medicine, and the first way to combat problems caused by excessive sitting is to get up and move. Experts recommend that we should spend at least 2 hours of our workday not sitting. At first, this may sound like an unrealistic challenge but when you break it down it becomes much more doable.
Ways to take a break from sitting:
- Take your calls while standing
- Walk around or pace
- Hold standing or walking meetings
- Take short stretching breaks
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing them
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator
- Take a walk during your lunch break
- Use tools like Sit-Stand desks
Remember, even small breaks can make a big difference. If you find it’s hard to remember to take breaks from sitting, try setting an alarm on your phone or putting a Post-it note on your desk as a reminder.
Many of us hold the incorrect belief that our exercise outside the workday cancels out the negative effects of sitting, but research has shown this to be false. The cure for sitting is not exercising more, it’s sitting less. In addition to the health benefits associated with less sitting, it will be easier to stay in good posture and avoid positions that can increase back or neck pain. A physical therapist can help you learn to sit with good posture, as well as identify ways to sit less throughout the day. Contact us to learn more!