Working From Home- How to Avoid The Health Hazard of Sitting Too Much?
In today’s working environment and lifestyle, most of the workers spend hundreds of hours per month glued to the desk and computer screen. A normal day in the office for employees or the couch for the ones who work from home, includes from 6-8 hours in sitting position, accompanied by a few more, while resting at home in front of the TV. Several studies have proven the positive connection between sedentary behaviour and chronic diseases and death, but are you really aware of how sitting impacts your health?
Sedentary behaviour health impact
Sitting appears to be an unnatural position for the human body, lowering blood pressure, slowing down the metabolism and the body’s ability to process sugar, leading to excessive fat. Physically, it causes the spine to be pressured in taking an unusual curve, causing many kinds of back and neck pain, with the potential of being chronicle. Moreover, from a psychological point of view, sitting and laying too much may cause fatigue and depression that is of no help to either productivity or concentration. That's why when you are working from home, you should be aware of how much you are sitting down.
But now you may think: ‘I am not affected since I work out.’ Unfortunately,physical activity and sedentary behaviour have nothing in common. Engaging in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t save you from the implications of your lifestyle, since the overall sitting time highly exceeds physically active hours. However, it helps reduce the risks of cardiovascular and back issues. Overall, it shouldn’t be neglected but it is not a solution to prevent sedentary behaviour.
Changing those disturbing patterns in lifestyle is hard, since technology development has resulted in more desk jobs and telecommuting for at least 8 hours a day. But there are some things that can be done to avoid the unhealthy effects of sitting or at least reduce them, when you are working from home.
Adapt your work space
Regardless if you work from home or you are an employee, there are several ways you can adapt your cubicle to be more activity-friendly.
Standing desksIf you haven’t heard of them, they have been growing in popularity and provide the option to adjust to a different height. However, excessive standing can effect leg muscles, so the best solution would be to try and mix up sitting down with standing up for the same time intervals.
Use a balance ballWhen you are working from home you have the opportunity to substitute the good old chair for its healthier alternative- a bouncy balance ball. Many people have started using it in order to get better posture and to keep their muscles constantly active, since they hold balance of the ball. You can also have jumping sessions to make your whole body active, but be careful, since accidents are possible when using this new innovative ‘chair’.
Do desk workouts
Even if you can’t afford/ are not allowed to use some of the modern office decisions, on-desk activity and stretching are a life-saver. Here are some small exercises you can do when you are working from home to relieve pain and muscle stress.
Arm and leg circlesStand up and start making air circles with your arms and consequently legs and lower back. This will relieve the stress in your muscles and joints from too much sitting.
Shoulder and neck rotationTry to shrug your shoulders and rotate your head both ways to relieve neck muscles
Full body stretchStand up in a position sort of like you’re praising the ceiling with your arms up, then proceed to extend one leg and the opposite arm and repeat until you feel relief.
Doing those small stretching exercises every hour or so will help your body to get out of the static position and drive muscle activity.
Frequent walks or even running around at home are helpful to break sitting. Try not to avoid stairs, go out frequently and walk to talk to your coworkers, instead of using the company chat
If your job allows it, try to set an hour each and every other day to work in a different location, even though you are working from home. Get your laptop and walk to the nearest park, stay for a while and then back to the office. You can incorporate this principle into business meetings if you can convince the other party that taking a walk is far more enjoyable than sitting in a conference room.