Combatting Sitting Disease In The Workplace
Our society has shifted to a more sedentary work environment where little to no physical exercise occurs for 8 to 12 hours daily. The reason behind this is the invention of the computer, the internet, and the lengthening of the workday/week.
Working all week at your desk may help you reach your objectives, pay your expenses, and keep you out of debt. But it may also put you at risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, joint pain, decreased life expectancy, etc.
What is Sitting Disease?
The phrase "sitting disease" is used to depict various diseases that are frequently linked to a sedentary lifestyle or excessive sitting. It can be a problem for adults in particular because of the physical aspects of aging that might make it harder to stay active.
Studies reveal that only one in four people between 65 and 74 exercise regularly. It is also believed that if we reduced sitting for a long to under three hours from our daily sitting time, we could add up to two years to our life expectancy. Similarly, if we cut back on our daily TV viewing to under two hours, we'd gain back an additional 1.4 years.
Outcomes of Sitting Disease
According to a study conducted in 2019 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, prolonged sitting hours can cause an increased risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
An average American spends 21 hours a day sitting and only 3 hours standing, including exercise and physical activity.
The below list would provide insight regarding its various repercussions.
1. Weight Gain
Your body breaks down the carbs and fats you eat while your muscles are in use. When you spend long hours sitting, digestion becomes less efficient, and your body retains those fats and sugars as fat.
In addition, extended sitting lowers energy expenditure, leading to increased body fat storage. Physical inactivity also hinders the body's ability to break down fats and sugars.
As a result, an undesirable weight increase and obesity are due to the imbalance between energy intake and expenditure. The risk of various severe non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, is increased by obesity.
Despite your workout regimen, you risk the danger of acquiring conditions like metabolic syndrome if you spend a lot of time sitting down. The most recent study suggests that you should perform at least one hour of moderate-intensity daily activity, which will help mitigate the hazards of extended sitting.
2. Joint Pain
It's astonishing to learn that spending too much time sitting down can lead to visits to the physiotherapy clinic for massages and rehabilitation.
The main muscles you engage when you sit are those in your legs and hips, especially your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. But if you sit excessively, you can overstretch and strain these muscles, making them short and tight.
The muscles support the hip and back joints. So, when they become short and rigid due to continuous bad sitting posture, they affect the hip and back joints. Disc prolapse, nerve impingement, and an early deterioration of the joint components are a few of its side effects.
Long periods slumped over a desk or computer can also cause a stiff neck and shoulder ache.
Long periods of inactivity from sitting still can change how the body processes sugar. The hormone that controls blood sugar, insulin, is less sensitive to tissues when people sit for extended periods. Diabetes develops due to the body's tissues failing to use extra sugar, which builds up in the blood.
According to research, continuous hours of sitting enhances your risk of developing diabetes by more than 112 percent. Physicians believe that sitting may alter how your body responds to insulin, which is the hormone that aids in burning sugar and carbohydrates for energy.
4. Heart Disease
Heart disease has been connected to prolonged sitting. According to experts, those who spend a lot of time sitting have a 147 percent higher risk of acquiring heart conditions like heart attacks and stroke. When the blood flow decreases, fatty acids build up in the blood arteries and cause heart disease.
When your body's capacity to utilize fats decreases, it produces lipoprotein lipase, a crucial enzyme that helps break down blood fats. It is particularly difficult for your body to burn fat when you are sitting since your body produces less lipoprotein lipase in a sitting position (by roughly 90%). Fat gets stored when the body doesn't use it.
5. Decrease in Life Expectancy
Sitting for extended periods increases your risk of dying sooner for any reason. Whether you work out daily or not makes no difference. Of course, there is no justification for mobilization; your time might be even shorter if you do that.
6. Anxiety and Depression
Numerous mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and depression, have been related to excessive daily sitting. It may be because those who spend a lot of time sitting lack the benefits of exercise and fitness. While quitting your job is not the answer, getting up and moving around may help.
Another reason can be that using a laptop/desktop throughout the day causes trouble sleeping and makes you more anxious. Furthermore, social anxiety is associated with spending too much time alone because it can cause you to isolate yourself from friends and family.
Spending long sitting hours every day, whether you exercise or not, will negate the benefits of your workouts and raise your risk of developing these diseases. According to experts, these hazards rise with every two hours of sitting.
7. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops in your leg due to long sitting sessions. DVT is a major issue as it may develop if a piece of a blood clot in a leg vein breaks off and obstructs blood flow in other blood vessels. A pulmonary embolism may result if the clot blocks the pulmonary artery of your lungs.
It is a medical emergency that, if not treated right away, could cause severe repercussions. Although some people don't exhibit symptoms, you can have pain and swelling. Therefore, taking breaks between extended periods of sitting is a good idea.
Tips to Avoid Too Much Sitting
The "Active Couch Potato" phenomenon, as described in The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, states that even an active person with vigorous exercise five times per week still runs the risk of developing "Sitting Disease" if they lead a sedentary lifestyle outside of the gym.
Your office is where you spend a significant portion of your time and spend most of that time sitting down. Unfortunately, a workout won't compensate for eight or more hours of sitting.
Reducing the dangers of sitting and the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle is possible simply by moving more during the day. It does not mean you should start preparing for a marathon and pull out your old, dusty running shoes. You may include movement into your schedule simply and practically during your work by assimilating the below-mentioned habits into your day-to-day office routine.
1. Incorporate Desk Exercises
You may perform a plethora of desk exercises at your desk compared to sitting still. This helps raise the heart rate, encourages better posture, and burns more calories.
You can attempt anything, such as performing a brief yoga sequence in your office, seated leg raises, or push-ups on your workspace floor.
Pick exercises that you can perform and that are appropriate for your specific workplace setting.
2. Get your Co-Workers Involved
Get the whole team on board. Getting your entire organization involved is another way to make moving and taking more steps at work easier. To get your entire office environment focused on standing and moving more throughout the day, speak to your manager or the HR department.
You're not the only one in your office who could use more movement during the day. To establish a walking group at lunch, come to work a bit early to go for a stroll or have a brief yoga session in your office. Ask your friends or co-workers if they'd want to.
Prompt your company of the advantages increased mobility has for their health and its positive effect like a decrease in employee absences.
3. Engage in Active Commuting
Don't disregard your commute as a time when you sit for an excessive amount of time and put your health at risk. Look for ways to break up any sitting time exceeding 30 minutes throughout your commute. Ensure you get ten to twenty minutes of walking before and after.
Ensure you have everything you need for the day by going to your home or apartment to tidy it up. Remove the garbage, recycle, put the laundry in the hamper, and check that everything is in order. Before getting into your vehicle, go around the block. You will have a longer walk to work if you park further away from your location.
Suppose you commute by bus or train and find that you don't get enough exercise; consider boarding a further away to get more exercise. On the rail, stand up for a portion of your ride. Another option is to exit the bus or train earlier and take a little longer to walk to your destination.
Or, if you live close enough, you could ride your cycle or walk to work when the weather is nice.
4. Frequent Walks
No matter the position or the job demands, humans were not made to sit still for extended periods. We can prevent maintaining static positions, unnatural postures, and repetitive activities that cause injuries by taking regular, brief breaks throughout office hours.
It is also crucial for our cognitive health since it enables us to refresh and refocus to continue to work productively. For every 30 minutes of sedentary behavior at the office, think about taking a 2-3 minute break.
Contemplate using the stairs instead of the elevator if your office is located on one of the top floors.
5. Create a Seat-Friendly Workspace
While the chair can help with comfort and support, how well one sits at a desk depends on the setup of the workspace. Check that your eyes are aligned with the part of the screen you focus on most before beginning your workday. Or set up your keyboard so that your wrists, shoulders, and neck are as comfortable as possible. Consider changing your desk to accommodate these needs.
You should try your best to sit up straight. You can do it with your upper back straight and your lower back curving to the curvature of the chair to prevent spinal tension. Bring a pillow or an extra jacket to work if your chair doesn't give adequate spinal support. For a change, improvise shifting to a high table and try working while standing.
Keep your arms in a relaxed resting position at a 90-degree angle. Your chair's armrest will come in handy in this situation.
Sitting still has problems. Your body's blood flow can be reduced when your legs are in certain situations. Think about setting up your upper legs 90 degrees apart from your body. Investing in a footrest is best if you are of average height.
6. Stand and Stretch
Try to get roughly 10 minutes of standing in for every hour you spend sitting. You should spend 20 minutes using the computer for work every 30 minutes, followed by a 10-minute rest. You divide it into 8 minutes of standing and 2 minutes of stretching in your 10-minute rest.
Little changes like standing while taking a phone can significantly depart you from prolonged sitting and would positively impact your health over time.
Thus, long periods of sitting might cause your health to deteriorate quickly. This blog illustrates the effects and offers advice on handling the fallout. Since movement is beneficial, it is important to prioritize and never ignore our bodies' need for mobility.
I hope this article provided you with a better grasp of sitting disease. Simple adjustments can always be made for positive changes. So, give it a shot, try to include it as a part of your wellness program, and let us know how it helped you.
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