Why you shouldn't sit at your desk all day and what you should do about it.
In the 1950’s, The Lancet published the results of a study between bus drivers and bus conductors, the results of which showed that the bus drivers had twice the risk of developing heart disease, compared to the conductor colleagues. Why? Simply because they spent so much longer sitting down. The lesson learnt? Standing is good for you and we don’t do enough of it.
Claire Sanderson, Principal Physiotherapist at The Gingerbread Clinic in St Ives, Cambs, has more warnings for people who work in primarily sedentary jobs by adding that “Sitting for long periods of time can cause joints to stiffen up, particularly if we unknowingly fall into poor postural alignment. This can lead to general stiffness and pain in joints.”
There are plenty more statistics, such as:
· In a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk. (British Psychological Society)
· Research by Sanlam Private Investments showed that, on average, office workers spend 55% of their working day sat down with almost 60% saying they don’t even take a proper lunch break and instead eat at their desk. (Huffington Post)
It doesn’t matter whether you work from home, an office or a coworking space; there are a number of solutions to ensure you stay healthy without impacting on your productivity levels. These are the main three:
1. Sit/Stand Desks
With the press of a button, your desk could move from a seated position to a standing one. This not only alleviates the day-to-day stress on your body, but actually creates further physical benefits. Sam Wilson from Cupaz, a Hertfordshire based office interior fit out and furniture business, says that “People in the 21st century spend a considerable amount of the day at the seated position, either at work, in the car on the way to work and finally sat down watching TV in the evening.” He adds that “Standing for three hours whilst working is no large effort and can increase projection whilst talking, alongside burning calories.” They’re not hugely expensive either, with the cost of a desk ranging from £250 to £900. One test has even shown that users of sit/stand desks were 10% more productive that those who sat all day.
2. Laptop Stands
If you work primarily from a laptop, you’ll already know that they’re not well suited for long computing sessions. First, the scree heights tend to be too low for users. If this is you, you’ll probably tend to hunch over, causing strain on your neck and shoulders. Laptop stands can range from as little as £15 and will raise your screen to your eye level.
There are technical benefits here too, as many laptop stands help to keep your laptop cool. By raising your computer above the desk, it improves airflow which reduces the CPU temperature. This can also help to prolong its battery life since the fan doesn’t have to work as hard.
3. Exercise at work
This doesn’t have to be a complete change of lifestyle, far from it. As Claire Sanderson confirms “Joints love movement. So, every 30-40 minutes, simply get up and move around to increase blood flow to muscles and joints. This is a good way to keep fluidity of movement.” It’s as simple as that. Claire does have a more detailed, personal exercise program for office workers which can be downloaded HERE.
Ed Goodman - Cambridge Business Lounge