Our bodies work through periods of rest and work.
Through the day time, generally speaking, we work. We work by utilizing our muscles.
Sure, we alternate between working and breaks throughout the day, but the breaks are shorter than work periods. Work that is static in nature and requires passive sitting positions is most harmful to us.
Sitting all day causes adverse health effects.
Let’s consider sleeping positions; if sleeping in the same position for the entire night was comfortable, we would wake up in the same position. The point here is that most of us do not wake up in the same position we first fell asleep in.
While we sit in a theatre watching a movie, we generally move positions more than once. Sitting in the same position during a movie that is an hour and a half long or more seems torturous. If sitting in the same position for an extended period of time is torturous, then completing the same task over and over again without moving major muscles would be the same.
Our bodies send us impulses that we need to change positions while we are sitting for extended periods of time, but we are always able to ignore these impulses.
In most cases, we ignore these impulses due to the fact that we are unable to move because of the tasks we are completing. If we are typing on a computer an impulse may send a message to raise our feet. However, not many of us has an ottoman under our desks, meaning we are ignoring our body’s impulses and needs.
In another case, if we are sitting in a place where people are watching us, we would sit much differently than in the privacy of our own homes.
This sitting etiquette might include keeping your legs closer together and your hands resting in your lap. These social conventions separate us from animals. However how healthy is it to ignore our body’s impulses?
Other problems that might occur are physical obstacles. It is impossible to change body positions if body movement is restricted. These stipulations should be important factors when a designer creates a sitting solution. A piece of furniture that is in contact with our body should adequately support our body parts as required.
Just as technology has advanced, sitting solutions have followed.
Ergonomics are considerations that have been used to produce products, such as office chairs. Ergonomics covers all aspects of a job, from the physical stresses it places on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones and the like, to environmental factors which can affect hearing, vision, and general comfort and health.
Physical stressors include repetitive motions such as those caused by typing or continual use of a manual screwdriver. Repetitive motions, vibration, excessive force, and awkward positions are frequently linked to ergonomic disorders.
Injuries that are caused from repetitive motions are not from the motion done once or only a few times. Injuries require hours and hours of repetitive motions. The goal of office ergonomics is to set up your office work space so that it fits you and the job you are doing.
Ergonomics theory recommends a person to sit tall while at a computer desk, yet this lacks variation and comfort.
In contrast, ergonomic studies states a person should switch positions often. How is this possible if we are sitting tall while typing? Is this in reference to our leg positioning?
If so, unless a person has an ottoman or other object similar under their desk we are left with leg crossing and leg uncrossing, and/or with legs being closer together and further apart. Although these postures are a form of variation, we must also consider the head, shins, feet and arms.
Body movements and variations are important to our everyday lives. Everyone is well aware that exercise is good for us. There is an enormous amount of research that explains the benefits of regular exercise.
However, what if regular exercise is not enough to keep us healthy? Sure, this exercise might be keeping us in good shape, but if we lead working lives that involve static activities that require sitting for eight hours or more, the benefits of exercise might not outweigh the negative effects of sitting for hours at a time.
Studies explain that when a person adheres to an exercise regimen, a person can improve their cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, improve metabolism, levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
But researchers are beginning to suspect that regular exercise is not enough to counteract sitting during the rest of the day.
Let's say you do 30 minutes of walking five days a week (as recommended by federal health officials) and let's say you sleep for eight hours. Well, that still leaves 15.5 hours in the day. Exercise is definitely being outweighed by static and passive work, or sitting.
Men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity. And many of these men routinely exercised.
After all, if most of us have sedentary jobs and partake in activities that are sedentary, we are sitting a lot more than moving.
When you're sitting, your muscles are not contracting or moving. The larger muscles, like in your legs and back are moving minimally. When larger muscles aren't moving a person’s metabolism slows down.
This is the counteraction of the exercise that was done earlier. Sitting hours and hours at a time increases cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides levels and even waist size.
When we sit all day long our bodies shut down. It is recommended to move out of your desk chair at least once every hour. Stretching and moving around every so often is extremely helpful in the long run. When possible sit on a medicine ball. A medicine ball strengthens the core while improving balance and flexibility.
Although most work stations are not low enough to allow this type of sitting solution, this theory has many opportunities for the future.
The only problem with this idea is getting people motivated to do it.
So try these activities during extended sitting periods:
Walk to the water fountain, printer, or other equipment.
Take a 10 minute activity break everyday at a scheduled time.
Fidget, stand, and stretch once every hour or two tops.
Arianne P Rauluk