When lockdowns and quarantines were imposed, people were initially enthusiastic to be at home and to adapt to working from home (WFH). Easier said than done, right?
What we did not foresee is spending the same number of hours or even longer, in various parts of the house sitting at the dining table, couch, study table, on the floor, etc., busy completing assignments with our laptops or computers.
Many of those who WFM have become aware of certain aches and pains which are associated with bad sitting habits. The neck may ache more after long periods of bending over the laptop, blue light emitted from screens of electronic devices harm the eyes, shoulders may stiffen when typing or clicking on the mouse when the keyboard is placed in the wrong angle, and the lower back may hurt from the hours of remaining in the same sitting position.
If you did not have all these aches and pains while working at the office, it can be deduced that they are simply related bad seating habits. It is important to have a proper workspace table and chair as well as good lighting to work efficiently.
In this article, we will briefly discuss the effects of remaining seated for extended periods of time.
Risks of sitting down too long:
It has been medically recorded that sitting for extended periods of time contributes to obesity, with studies showing that obese people tend to sit on average two hours longer per day compared to people with normal weight.
Studies also revealed that sitting for long periods were also linked to early death, as people who sat for 8 hours or more per day displayed risks of dying comparable to smoking and obesity.
Other health risks including increased blood pressure, excess visceral (abdominal) fat, elevated bad cholesterol levels, heart disease, and even cancer and type 2 diabetes.
These health risks could be linked to poor blood circulation and accumulation of body fluid primarily in the lower limbs, normally experienced as swelling in the feet by the elderly or people suffering from venous, renal or heart problems who sit for long periods of time. In recent years, the younger generation have also displayed similar symptoms, perhaps due to their spending more hours at work leaving them less time to exercise.
Poor blood circulation and swollen feet may lead to a serious medical issue, which is deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
For the uninitiated, DVT occurs when a blood clot (a clump of blood) forms along a vein normally in the lower limbs and sometimes in the upper limbs (arms). This blood clot reduces the blood flow and may cause swelling, cramps or severe pain in the affected area.
A major problem arises when a piece of the blood clot breaks away and moves into the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism which will need emergency treatment.
Did you know that sitting on the wrong kind of surface (either too hard or too soft) can contribute to soreness in the back? And, did you also know that skinny people may be more prone to back soreness? This could be due to the fact that skinny people do not have adequate fat to cushion their buttocks leaving more pressure falling directly on their tailbone.
For those who experience pain in the tailbone region, one simple solution would be to get a donut shaped cushion to relieve the pressure put on the tailbone or sitting bone.
Measures to take to avoid sitting down too long:
John Abraham, Managing Director of Rapid Physiocare in Singapore, said “A sedentary lifestyle causes soreness and tightness in the gluteal muscles and hip flexors when they lengthen and tighten”. His advice: “So, you need to avoid sitting for too long in the same position. Start walking and practising some mild stretching,”.
For those who WFM and claim they do not have time for a simple workout, try getting a work surface to place your laptop above your treadmill. This two-in-one solution allows you get your office work completed with the added benefit of walking a few kilometres done and dusted!
You can even discuss implementing the treadmill method with your boss when you get back to working at your office. Alternatively, suggest a standing desk to work on.
A standing desk or using a work surface above a treadmill at home or at the office have both been found to have a host of benefits, as they can:
- lower your back pain.
- boost productivity.
- lower your risk of heart disease, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
- you will to burn more calories while standing or walking compared to sitting. This may see a reduction in company medical bills as well.
- improve your blood circulation.
- improve your mood.
Once back in the office, have standing meetings. You will be surprised how much quicker meetings conclude when everyone is standing.
Other workable solutions that are easily done are:
If you WFM, get up from your chair, couch, bed, or from whatever surface you are sitting on, every half an hour. To improve blood circulation, move around a little or stretch your limbs.
Stand as much as possible, i.e., while taking a phone call or during commercial time during your favourite tv serial.
If you happen to be a couch potato addicted to tv serials or movies, get up every half an hour or whenever a commercial comes, and take this opportunity to stretch for a few minutes.
For the elderly or those having medical conditions, before getting off the couch, chair or rocker, do check with your doctor on exercises you can do to improve blood circulation, lose weight and improve flexibility.
Knowing some effects of sitting down for extended periods of time, and with some simple solutions we have shared to get you on your feet now and then, is there any other excuse you would like to add to support your decision to remain seated nearly all the time?
28th May 20:30