Healthspan September 01, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that sitting in an office chair every day for 5 days a week with little or no break is not particularly good for your health. In fact, all this time spent sedentary and slumped over a keyboard has been labelled responsible for a minor modern health epidemic. Not so minor if we look at the diseases – including diabetes, heart disease and depression – that research has shown become more of a risk the more time we spend sat in in a chair per day.

It’s also a well-known fact that - unless you don’t work in an office and you’re currently laughing at the lot of us from the vicinity of your very own surf-school - being ‘overly stationary’ is pretty hard to avoid. Until the day comes where robots rule the world and we no longer have to work, that precious monthly payslip is not something easily lived without.

What we can do, though, is incorporate activities to make the best of the situation by making each office day just a little bit more active.

Every little really does help, so we’ve put together a few simple suggestions to help you enforce this mantra.

1. Step into tree pose, or child pose if you’d prefer

At Healthspan staff often take part in a lunchtime yoga-session. We loosen up, stretch ourselves out, practise our breathing and return to work re-invigorated and ready to go.

If you don’t have a class organised at work, why not organise one yourself? Most companies have an allowance for this kind of thing seeing as productivity at work is proven to be maximised by regular physical activity. And if you can’t find yourself a yoga teacher, how about organising a sociable lunchtime run?

If we’ve just sent a shiver down your spine with this suggestion…

2. …Go for a walk at lunchtime instead

If you’re using your lunch hour to spend yet more time staring at a computer screen, don’t. Stop it now. There’s a reason you’ve been gifted with a lunch break and the clue is in the name. A break means a break from work including from your computer screen and, if possible, a break from your work environment, too. Real air in your lungs, a bit of vitamin D and a good stretch of the legs - all for the sake of stepping outside that office door.

Saying this, we realise taking a break is a luxury busy people often don’t have. If you’re experiencing a particularly busy time at work, you might want to consider…

3. …Invest in a specially designed office chair

Take the ‘Zenergy Ball Chair’ for example’ which, due to forcing you to sit higher than you would in a regular office chair, is better for the spine and helps to activate the core . Many employers now have standing workstations available for use by staff, but a huge variety of bouncy, wobbly, exciting sounding alternatives are also readily available including (believe it or not) the ‘Wobble stool’, the ‘Swopper’, the ‘Wigli’, and the ‘Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair’ (Huffington Post).

Sitting disease is, unfortunately, a real problem and something we should all do our best to fight against. We’re becoming an increasingly sedentary nation despite movement being one the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy!

Other articles referred to:

https://www.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-even-for-runners

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/16/active-desk-chairs_n_5484850.html

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Their findings were gleaned from 47 studies that looked at the health effects of sedentary behaviour. The researchers adjusted for other types of activity people did, from leisure-time activities to vigorous exercise. Over the course of these studies, people who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes — even those who exercised regularly. The negative effects were even more pronounced in people who did little or no exercise. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618 Havard Health Publications) “The dynamic chairs do offer benefits,” says Line Barlund, a senior ergonomist with Ergo Concepts, LLC, who also works as the project director for the nationwide ergonomic program at AOL, the parent company of The Huffington Post. Their biggest benefit comes from their ability to let us sit a little higher than usual, which increases our hip angles, she says. A more open hip angle not only activates the core muscles, but helps us keep more of a natural curve in our spine, called the lumbar lordosis. “Usually when we’re sitting, we pull the pelvis under us more,” she says, which can lead to disc pressure and other back pain. (Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/16/active-desk-chairs_n_5484850.html)

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