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Sitting down for long hours can have a devastating effect on your health. Most people don't even realise how much they sit during the course of one day. You sit at the dinner table to eat, to relax, to commute, talk on the phone, to read a book or even to surf the Internet. It's absolutely shocking how much time people spend sitting down each day. And, if you have a desk job, then you are probably sitting the whole day at your desk in office too.
By now, you must be mentally calculating how much time you spend on your feet moving around. The answer will probably shock you. It should. This kind of sedentary lifestyle can have severe health repercussions.
According to researchers at the British Psychological Society, people spend on an average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk and 7 hours sleeping at night. This is bad for your physical and mental health.
The researchers saw that those who sit for longer hours at work are more likely to sit outside of work too. They also noticed a correlation between BMI scores and sitting time at work. More time spent sitting at work was associated with a decrease in mental well-being too.
It is time for people to get up and walk around. You may be on a desk job but that doesn't mean that your health has to suffer on account of it. If you do not take matters into your own hands immediately, sitting down all day can have irreversible effects on your health. It can give you a literal pain in the neck. You may also suffer from back pain, headaches, muscle atrophy and an increased risk of disability in old age. Put a post-it note on your desk to remind yourself of this fact. And, get up and about whenever you get a chance.
Let us look at some of the adverse effects of a desk job.
When you sit the whole day at your desk, you use less energy than when you stand or move around. The fact that you may be working on your computer the whole time makes no difference to this fact. This immobility can cause many adverse health conditions. Let us take a look at how a desk job can decrease your overall well being.
Sitting at a desk all day can impair your body's ability to handle blood sugar. This can cause a reduced sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which carries glucose from the blood into cells where it is converted to energy. Therefore, this can make you feel tired and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Avoid office snacks and drink a lot of water throughout the day. And, of course, take that mandatory walk every 60 minutes.
If you are at your desk the whole day, where is the time to meet people and chat? This leads to social isolation. Feelings of loneliness and depression creep in. Communicating through the computer is not enough. You need to meet people too. Also, when you are at your desk, you are indoors. This is you are not getting enough sun. Lack of sun leads to vitamin D deficiency. This is another reason for depression.
Get up and greet your colleagues once in a while. Take a walk during your lunch hour outside in the sun. Or better still, have your lunch standing outside in the sun chatting with your colleagues.
Having a desk job can increase your risk of obesity. According to a research at the Universit de Montr al, people with desk jobs are less active and this decreased activity level may lead to obesity. This study was published in the online edition of Preventive Medicine. Another study at the University of Warwick also draws the same conclusion.
Hence, it is important to get up and move every now and then. Also avoid office snacks. These are usually high calorie snack and unhealthy. These can contribute to weight gain.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, people bound to their desk at work have bigger waists and an increased risk of heart diseases. They say that waist circumference increases by two centimetres, and risk of cardiovascular diseases by 0.2 per cent for every additional hour of sitting on top of five hours. Furthermore, bad cholesterol (LDL) increases and good cholesterol (HDL) decreases with each additional hour of sitting from five hours a day. All this increases the risk of heart diseases.
Researchers say that to counter this, you need to walk more than 15,000 steps per day. This is equivalent to walking seven to eight miles. Or, you can stand for seven hours every day.
When you sit the pelvis rotates backward and this puts pressure on the lumbar discs. This posture forces the head forward and causes the shoulders to curve to compensate for transfer of weight. This can have an effect on your posture.
Sit up straight every 15 minutes and push back your shoulders. Raise your head and flex your neck muscles. Stand up and take a short walk.
Sitting for long hours puts a lot of pressure on the lower back. It also puts a lot of stress on the surrounding muscles and joints. This can induce severe lower back pain.
To avoid this, you need to get up every 30 to 60 minutes and take a walk. You may also do some stretching exercises to relieve the tension in your shoulder and back muscles.
Desk jobs have also been linked to an increased incidence of cancer. In fact, a Kansas State University research says that the more you sit, the higher your risk of chronic diseases like cancer. This was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Try to stand as much as you can. Get up when you are talking on the phone or greeting a colleague. Walk up to a co-worker instead to sending a message. Every little movement matters.
Any movement, however little, can make a big difference. You will burn more calories, lose weight and have more energy. Make an effort at a little more movement and you will improve your muscle tone, bone health and mental well-being too. Make it a point to exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Other than this do things around the house that involves some level of physical activity. Even walking your dog or cleaning your house will count. Take up yoga and do simple stretches and flexes while sitting. This way, you can counter some of the adverse health effects of a desk