Death By Chair - The Office One
Chairs: we sit in them all day at work or school and relax in them when we’re at home. We sit down to eat our meals, watch our TVs and drive our cars, but mounting evidence shows that our chairs could be killing us! Research has shown that many adults in the UK spend over 7 hours of their waking day sitting or lying down. This ‘sedentary’ lifestyle is highly damaging to our health and has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and premature death.
Office jobs and devices such as computers, tablets and televisions have led to sitting being our ‘default’ setting. When we are sat down, our metabolism falls and our body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels and blood pressure as well as break down fats is affected. People who sit for longer have more fat around their middles and are at greater risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. When we sit, especially in ordinary non-ergonomic furniture, we also put ourselves at risk of musculoskeletal problems. The sitting posture encouraged by most office chairs or household furniture does not preserve the natural curve of the lower spine (the lumbar lordosis). This puts unnatural stress on the spine and can lead to back pain.
So what is the answer?
Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply do 30 minutes more cardio at the gym or go for a jog if you are still spending most of the day sat down. Over-sitting has been identified as an independent health risk factor, so although we are encouraged to be more active we must also reduce the amount of time we spend sat down. Standing engages the muscles of the legs, back and shoulders and boosts the metabolism and circulation which not only benefits your health but has also been proven to improve concentration, productivity and creativity. Taking regular standing and walking breaks during the day and standing instead of sitting on trains and buses are advised to decrease the lengths of time which we spend sat down. Going a step further and creating a standing workstation is one of the best ways to spend more time on our feet.
Using a standing desk or a height adjustable desk such as the Aluforce Pro which allows you to alternate between sitting and standing is a great way to limit the amount of time you spend in a sedentary manner at work. The desks are available as manual or electric and come in different colours and sizes to suit all offices and workspaces. Sit-stand desks are also advised for use in classrooms. Some countries such as Finland, Australia and the US recommend that children sit for no longer than 1-2 hours in a day. Introducing standing desks in schools and encouraging children to work whilst stood up from a young age encourages healthy lifestyle habits and could be an essential tool in the fight against growing rates of childhood obesity. Working stood up increases concentration and memory retention which means sit-stand classrooms can actually lead to improved, more engaged learning.
Health Problems From Over-Sitting
The links between over-sitting and health problems are becoming clearer and more established. With a wave of research showing compelling evidence over the last few years, the need to combat our sedentary lifestyles is now well recognised. However you do it, be it with a sit-stand desk or an exercise bike in front of the TV, the message is clear: stand up for your health and get out of that chair!