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Stand up for your health: The hazards of sitting

June 09, 2014

Do you find yourself feeling sore or kind of draggy at the end of the day? Your job could be to blame. A growing body of evidence suggests that sitting in front of a computer all day is causing professional workers a host of problems. Excessive sitting contributes to chronic diseases and obesity, causes back and neck injuries, and even plays a part in dementia.

And exercising after work isn’t enough to protect you from the ills of sitting. While working out helps keep your weight under control, it does nothing to prevent the stresses of excessive sitting on your bones, ligaments and muscles.

Sitting all day long creates problems in a number of ways. First, it forces your body to remain unnaturally still instead of getting healthy circulation. Second, it engages you in a highly repetitive pattern of motions and posture. It also prevents you from burning many calories.  

Office workers—and particularly IT professionals—are at the forefront of this trend as they work long hours sitting at computers. In fact, a recent Computerworld survey found that almost 70 percent of IT workers log more than 40 hours a week. And you're paying a hefty price. Researchers estimate that every hour of sitting subtracts time from your lifespan and reduces your quality of life.

Thankfully, there are several ways to counteract the hazards of sitting

1. Try walking meetings. Made famous by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, walking meetings replace traditional seated ones. People who adopt the habit report experiencing better collaboration and creativity. 

2. Even if you pack a lunch, make a commitment to leave your desk at lunchtime. Instead of working or surfing your way through your free time, try walking or going to the gym. Even if your opportunities are limited, visiting a mall, library or grocery store will still get you moving.  

3. Consider using a standing work station, or even better, a treadmill desk. These desks are quite expensive but many people have rigged DIY versions (just make sure yours is safe!). They’re reportedly very popular with engineers, a group known to engage marathon computer sessions.

4. Set a timer to get up every hour of your workday for at least two minutes. Use the full two minutes to stand up and stretch.

5. Is it possible to walk or bike to work instead of using your car? Try it. Many people report having their most creative ideas while using these modes of transportation. Legend has it that Albert Einstein conceived the theory of relativity while riding a bicycle.

Do you have any creative ideas for counteracting the strain of sitting? We’d love to hear from you. Visit our Facebook page and drop a suggestion on the wall. 

Reprinted from the TEKnowledgy newsletter for TEKsystems consultants. 

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