Is your chair killing you?

Is your chair killing you?

“Sitting is the new smoking” is a popular phrase. It follows research showing prolonged sitting can lead to an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and cancer.

But unlike smoking, sitting isn’t a lifestyle choice you can simply say “no” to. Many people drive to work and spend hours each day sitting at computers. At home, you sit down for hours watching TV, checking social media or shopping online.

“The negative health consequences of being sedentary accumulate when your body remains in the same position with little or no movement for extended periods of time,” says Dr. David Wehby, an occupational medicine physician for Aurora Health Care in Port Washington, Wis.

Sitting too much restricts blood flow and circulation. Over time, too much sitting can mean loss of muscle tone and bone strength. Gravity and fatigue take over when sitting too long. This can lead to rounded shoulders and slumped posture, contributing to:

  • Neck/low back pain
  • Painful trigger points
  • Potential disc degeneration

Work is a big culprit in the sitting epidemic. Any prolonged sitting — at a desk, behind the wheel, or in front of a computer — is detrimental to your health.

Dr. Wehby offers these tips to limit the effects of prolonged sitting:

  • Park as far away as possible at work and when running errands.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a short break from sitting every 30 minutes. Get up to fill your water bottle, take a bathroom break or do a task away from your desk.
  • When the phone rings, stand and stay standing during the call. You can also do this at home when watching TV. When a commercial break comes on, that’s your cue to stand. Move around for a couple of minutes (but avoid heading to the kitchen for a snack!).
  • Find creative ways to walk more at work. Encourage co-workers to walk and talk with you, rather than sitting in a conference room for a meeting.
  • Walk to another office to speak with co-workers instead of calling, sending a text or email.

Even in small increments, increasing movement throughout the day is the way to counteract the effects of too much sitting.

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  1. Very helpful.

  2. This is great for office workers; what about for at home (remote) workers who must be in front of computers all day, work long hours and whose companies don’t provide ergonomic workstations? Can you offer advice to these types of workers? Thanks.

  3. Great tips!

About the Author

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Carla Basiliere

Carla Basiliere, health enews contributor, is a seasoned communications professional with over 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Carla has a BS degree in Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota Mankato. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.