We all know that sitting for a very long time is bad for your health. In a sitting position, muscle activity is weak, the body becomes stiffer and blood circulation slows down.
Sitting during the working day causes many of us to experience back and neck pain, headaches and stiffness. In addition to this, while the muscles are passive, energy consumption decreases and instead of muscle mass, the body begins to accumulate fat mass. When seated, the large veins and arteries in the hip are packed, reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood flowing to the lower extremities. For many of us, sitting or at least staying put is an obligation in the office or at work and there is no question of giving it up, even for your health. So what can we do?
The most common problems caused by the classic sitting posture.
- Poor back posture leads to multiple tissue degeneration, pain, weakened back muscles, shallow breathing, poor bowel activity, and poor cerebral circulation.
- Rounded shoulders and a drooping head cause neck and shoulder strain and repetitive strain injury syndrome (“mouse hand syndrome”).
- Poor circulation (lymphatic and blood) affects the whole body and causes swelling, varicose veins, fatigue and inactivity.
- Intestinal health weakens, leading to an increased risk of hemorrhoids, constipation, inflammation of the intestine, lower immune resistance and cancer.
- Joint health is worse due to the 90 degree angle of the hip and knee joints, which accelerates, for example, arthritis.
- Genital health is poorer, causing inflammation in the genital area in women, erectile dysfunction and poor semen quality in men.
- Internal pelvic health weakens due to the pressure exerted by the seat padding across the pelvic opening; this leads to many internal pelvic health problems, including cancer.
- Rolling and stretching with the chair is awkward, which decreases productivity.
The best sitting position is as follows
Change your sitting position often! Especially today, when many of us are working from home, there are no saddle chairs or ergonomic office chairs available. EVERY time you change positions in the chair, you activate the biggest muscles in your body: the glutes, thighs and hamstrings. Activating your muscles is the key to avoiding decreased blood flow and this is how you keep your mind fresh as well.
If you work from home, you can try different workstations. Have you tried working on the floor a bit? On the floor, you won’t find a comfortable position to work for two hours straight, because your body forces you to change positions every 15 minutes or so. Your legs go numb, your knees start to ache a little, you feel something in your lower back – your body is telling you to change position! This is how you keep your muscles active – you just change positions quite often.
Stand up and sit down.
The quickest and easiest way to take a break from sitting is to stand up and sit down again. When you stand up, your energy consumption increases by 13-100% because you activate your largest muscles as well as the muscles that control the trunk. In addition, the large veins and arteries of the hip will have more room, which allows better blood circulation to the lower limbs. In this way, the blood flow of the whole body increases a little, which also has a positive effect on the brain.
Any tips for changing your sitting position?
An electric desk is the easiest solution for this, since you can lift the table for 15 minutes if you wish. Many people don’t have access to electric desks, especially during quarantine, so try to be creative! Try one of these ideas:
- Place a chair on the desk and your laptop on the chair.
- Place a stack of books on the desk and your laptop on top of the stack.
- Place your laptop on an ironing board.
- Place an ironing board in front of your desk and your keyboard on it. Place a chair on the desk and your screen on the chair.
- Otherwise, invest in a standing desk, to maintain your posture and avoid the health problems mentioned above.