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Don’t Just Sit There — How to Stay Healthy at Your Desk Job

February 01, 2019

For many working adults, the 9 to 5 routine involves a lot of time sitting down, whether it’s sitting in a desk chair for eight hours, sitting through long meetings or sitting-down during your commute.  While sitting may be a requirement of your job, Ken Bruno, MSPT and Shawn Tuthill, MSPT from the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network explain that it can also lead to many health problems, including:

    • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Reduction in bone health
      Bones need to continue to support loads in order to maintain strength
    • Muscle strains in the neck and shoulders (Upper Trapezius  and spinal stabilizers muscles can get overstressed trying to support the head and can increase the possibility of the onset of headaches)
    • Limitations in neck and shoulder mobility (Due to chronic positioning the overall ligamentous and disc mobility in cervical and thoracic spine is decreased. Protracted shoulder position limits overall use of upper extremities and can increase the onset of shoulder impingement with overhead reaching)
    • Limitations in hip and lumbar spine mobility (Chronic sitting can put people at a higher risk of disc herniation in the lumbar spine. Seated position can result in tightness of hip flexors and increased stiffness of the lumbar spine.)
    • Weakening of the gluts and abdominals
    • Increased risk of injury due to progressive weakness of legs
    • Circulatory deficiencies  from chronic dependent leg positioning (varicose veins, peripheral edema)
    • Increased risk of elbow, wrist and hand symptoms with prolonged computer use

    Because most people do not have the opportunity to get in a workout while they’re at work, Ken and Shawn have several tips that will help you stay active throughout your day.

    • Plan to take routine breaks from sitting – set yourself reminders on your computer or phone
    • Stand up every 30 to 45 minutes to move around for at least 2 minutes. Easy activities like doing heel raises, marching and doing wall pushups can be worked into the 2 minutes
    • While standing, gently move your lumbar spine and legs in order to counteract prolonged sitting posture
    • Gently move arms and neck through their available range to improve upon protracted head positioning
    • Follow the 20/20/20 rule to stave off headaches from eye strain and chronic poor posture. Every 20 min correct your posture by sitting up tall, and focus for at least 20 seconds on a distant object at least 20 feet away
    • Take phone calls standing
    • Take a walk during your lunch break
    • Take the stairs when available
    • Get others involved to help with consistency of healthy habits.  This will help you keep each other motivated and make exercising more fun!

     

For more tips and ideas on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HartfordHealthCareRehabilitationNetwork/ and Instagram at @boneandjointinmotion