It’s 2016 and death by sedentary lifestyle and inactivity still seen as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality by the WHO.
This is to no one’s surprise, as more and more people are working from a computer or laptop, and working days are only getting longer. ‘Ergonomics’ as a search term has only continued to decrease over the past decade, which means that the heyday of it being seen as a true concern has only decreased.
If you work for a Silicon Valley type company you can try to ask for a standing desk or other ergonomic tools. See here for testimonial saying that working on these things increases productivity.
If not though, well, good luck to you. Yes, you’ve probably heard it before, but sitting is still killing you.
Oh God, another ‘Sitting is Killing Us’ article?
Yeah, because this isn’t about dying at 83 instead of 90 (though apparently you will shorten your life by at least 7 years), it’s also means you have a higher chance of being obese and more vulnerable to certain cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and muscular issues.
Okay, so all I have to do is exercise right? That’ll counterbalance all my time I spend sitting.
Well, no. According to Ben Greenfield’s interview with ergonomist Josh Kerst, (full interview here) there’s the problem of the ‘active couch potato’ which is when someone who exercises, say, in the morning, has a less active day overall because they feel they’ve already met their activity quota for the day.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, even professional footballers are guilty of this. But the kicker is that sitting just for a few hours suppresses gene that helps keep your blood flowing and healthy, and the experts found that simply exercising was not reactivating it.
So what do I do?!
The saving grace, therefore is not just exercising but actually taking a break from your chair. The opposite of sedentary is not intense exercise (thankfully) but simply being mobile, if only a little.
Listen, I know it’s hard if you’re working in a corporate job to suddenly stretch or stand up and take a walk. It’s just weird and no one is doing it. The most inconspicuous thing you can do is probably stand up to go to the water cooler.
So do that. Do that on a timer, because you don’t want to suppress that blood-declotting gene for your health’s sake. And do those stretches anyway because it’s not that weird. We have a few discreet ones to get you started, but feel free to bust out more moves if you want to.
Here’s a timer app and some discreet stretches to get you started:
Pomodone App: It’s free. You can use it as an extension anywhere. And it’s a timer to tell you when you need to go stand up and take a walk.
Alternatively, use your phone timer. You don’t really have an excuse. Set a timer countdown for 1 hour (or even shorter preferably) and once the timer goes off, take a walk. Go to the hall and stretch a little. Hydrate yourself and go to the washroom!
DISCREET STRETCHES: We’ve scoured some discreet stretches over the internet just for you to start out. You don’t have to do all of these, but at least do some. What could be the harm?
Seated lower back rotational stretch
Sit on an armless chair or a stool. Cross your right leg over your left leg. Bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side (A). Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side (B). (source: MayoClinic.com)
Shoulder blade squeeze
Sit on an armless chair or a stool (A). While maintaining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat three to five times twice a day. (source: MayoClinic.com)
Loosen your hands with air circles
Make slow circles in the air with your wrists. Repeat on both sides in both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
Hand and fingers stretch
Extend your right hand out in front of your body with fingers facing up. Take your left hand and gently pull your fingers back to engage a stretch underneath your forearm. Next, position your fingers down and gently pull with the left hand to engage a stretch in the opposite position. Repeat with your left hand. (Source: http://www.nchpad.org/1304/6080/The~Stretch~Effect)
Now go forth and move!
Because the quality of your life depends on it. Let us know in the comment section below if there any pains you are still feeling or any concerns you have with the ergonomics, we read everyone.