Most of us have woken up with the dreaded back pain. Sometimes, it’s expected, like after that excellent, long workout with your new trainer. Other times, it seems impossible. “I was at work all day using the perfect posture. Now, this?”
Well, why back pain is an (unfortunate) part of life, you likely don’t know all the details about it. Most of us are aware that picking up something awkwardly, slouching, or sleeping incorrectly is a recipe for back pain, but is it really?
If you have ever wanted to know everything about back pain, keep reading. Okay – so it might not be everything, but it’s bound to be some information you might not have heard of before. Let’s dive in.
There is No Perfect Posture
You’ve probably been coached since first grade to sit with your back up straight. Sure, good posture will not cause pain, but it turns out that the “perfect posture” isn’t ideal for everyone.
The fact of the matter is, pain is going to come no matter how you’re sitting. And for some, a little bit of a slouch isn’t all that bad. The issue is with the discs in the lower back. Over time, any type of sitting is going to cause pain. That’s all thanks to the weight of your body being in the same place for an extended period.
So what should you do? Well, according to Harvard Health, the best option is to take regular breaks from sitting. Not only that, but breaks from standing are essential, too.
When you are at work (whether in the office or your living room), make sure you’re taking regular breaks. This means getting up and moving around, not plunging into your bed (which I think we all know is a definite possibility thanks to working from home).
Sleeping Positions Are Critical
Ever woken up and said, “Ouch! I slept wrong.” Yup, It’s the dreaded back pain showing up after what you thought would be a good night’s sleep. What’s the deal? Well, we all know that sleeping “wrong” is likely to bring about undesirable back pains. But what is wrong, anyway? How should you be sleeping?
According to Healthline, there are a few ways to get a great night’s sleep and fend off the back pain dilemma:
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- Sleep on your stomach with a pillow under your belly.
- Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
See a recurring theme here? Pillows are the go-to; unless, of course, you have a top-notch bed that allows you to realign your position. But whether you’re using a sophisticated reclinable bed or your fave pillows, one thing is for sure: alignment is necessary for success.
While we’re at it, make sure you ditch your old mattress, too. Over time, a bed will begin to lose its support. As you might assume, this means more back pain. It’s time to say goodbye to your trusty mattress and try something new. Your back will thank you.
Diet Plays a Role
I know it’s easy to settle on a lifestyle of tacos, cheeseburgers, and the after-work drink. We’ve all been there. And while tacos aren’t going to lead to back pain, a repetitively bad diet over an extended period can lead to pain. What?
Being overweight has a direct impact on your livelihood. And yes, excess weight can easily translate into the form of a painful back. This is simply because you’re putting extra pressure on your back day in and day out.
So what should the businessman and woman do? Basically, a better diet and a healthy weight can reduce the chance of back pain. No, you don’t have to leave taco Tuesday in the past. But making sure you aren’t overindulging or eating too many carne asada tacos is a start. Try to replace some of your meals with fresh ingredients and lean proteins like fish.
Exercise is Highly Beneficial
Trust me; I have been plagued by back pain plenty of times. The only thing you want to do is lay down and relax. Exercise is the last thing on our minds. But let me tell you – laying around and waiting for a miracle is going to do more harm than good. Exercise is hugely beneficial to getting rid of back pain and fending off future aches.
Exercise is excellent for your back in so many ways. Just as WebMD states, it’s ideal for strengthening the entirety of your back – including your spine. But what exercises are suitable for your back? Here’s a quick list.
- Yoga. Yoga is one of the most highly recommended exercises for back pain. Why? Because it’s loaded to the tee with stretches. These stretches will allow your muscles to relax and become more flexible, thus reducing the chance of aches and pains in the future.
- Half crunches. Doing a situp when you struggle with back pain is a definite no-no. But should all muscle and back-building situps be avoided? Nope! Doing a half crunch is a great way to strengthen your abdomen and back without discomfort.
- Aerobics. Yes, those fun aerobics classes do more than give you a good time. They also help you with your flexibility! And, if you don’t know by now, here’s a secret: flexibility can enormously help with back pain and relief. So, go ahead and join the next class.
Smoking Can Cause Back Pain
If you need more of a push to quit smoking, how about this: smoking can increase back pain. That’s right. Your go-to for stress relief and relaxation is doing even more harm than you may have thought. But how is this possible?
Well, Franciscan Health has a few reasons why smoking is not suitable for the back.
- Nicotine hinders blood flow. When we think of blood flow, we don’t typically involve the back. However, a reduced blood flow can lead to damages in the ligaments and muscles, including your back.
- Smoking also damages the discs of the spine. Since nicotine hinders the natural nutrient exchange in the body, the discs cannot heal and regenerate. So you can forget about recovering from that back pain anytime soon while smoking.
What’s the verdict? Quit smoking. This will benefit you in all areas, but the surprising benefit is reduced back pain. That’s something we can all agree on!
Your Gait Matters
I don’t really have any other way to put this: the way you walk has an impact on your back pain. And this can be a frightening thought. After all, I did say earlier that frequent breaks from sitting and standing are practical solutions to back pain. What if your walk is making these breaks cancel out?
The best thing to do is to know how to walk correctly. It is explained excellently in this video by a medical professional.
But while you’re at it, make sure that you’re also not trying to walk with flat feet or foot pain. Flat feet can cause your gait to be wonky and put more pressure on some areas rather than others. Also, any type of foot pain can make it so that you’re not walking “correctly.”
Needless to say, a trip to the tootsie doctor may be in order. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell if you’re struggling with flat feet unless a doc informs you. But trust me, once you know and have proper insoles and shoes, you will be so happy you found out.
Ditch the Heels
And women everywhere take a sigh of relief. No, but really. Heels are not best friends forever with your back. Why? It all roots back to alignment. Heels that are far too high will awkwardly position your body. This leads to an unaligned spine and places more pressure on those finicky discs.
Now, ditching heels is not exactly a viable solution for some gals. After all, I don’t think the boss would approve of flip-flops or ballet slippers in the office. So what should women do?
The best thing to do is to stick to a lower heel. A heel that is around 1 inch won’t cause too much damage. As a bonus, your feet won’t ache so much, and you will improve your gait. And if we know anything by now, your gait is all part of the package when it comes to ridding back discomfort.
Tight Clothes Are a No-No
The 80s called – they want their skinny jeans back. To be honest, I think plenty of us love the way we look in tight clothes. But, none of us actually enjoy it. Well, now you have a reason to say sayonara to your too-tight jeans.
Tight clothing can have a significant impact on your back comfort. Why? Squeezing into a tight pair of jeans will negatively affect your posture and the way you move. I’m sorry, but nobody is walking around “normally” in their favorite leather pants.
The solution to this is simple: make tight clothing scarce. Go out and splurge on some clothes that fit. And I mean really fit. They should be comfortable enough so that you can walk, sit, and stand properly.
Bulky Wallets Need to Go, Too
If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, then you probably already knew this surprising fact. Walking around with a far too large wallet is actually going to do some harm in the back pain realm. So, while you might think that you’re “stunting” with your larger-than-life wallet, you won’t be showing off for long.
But what’s going on here? Can a wallet have that much of an impact on your comfort and back? Yup, it’s true. Known as fat wallet syndrome, a bulky wallet can strain your lower back when you sit down. You’re essentially going to be sitting higher on one butt cheek than the other. The result? Misalignment.
Do your sciatic nerves a favor and declutter your wallet. Things you have had sticking around for a year and a half likely don’t need to be in there anymore. Try switching to a smaller, sleeker wallet altogether so that new items can’t fit anymore.
Back Pain Will Go Away On Its Own (Most of the Time)
Now for some comforting news: most acute back pain will go away on its own. It’s understandable to be frightened when you wake up with a twinge, but you’re not out of luck. There are specific steps you should take during your recovery time, though, including:
- Don’t lay around. Laying around on a heating pad sounds like a grand idea, but it isn’t. While short bursts of laying down and relaxing are acceptable, they should not be prolonged. This can make your pain last much longer. Instead, get up and get moving with some back-friendly activities such as walking or aerobics.
- Consume anti-inflammatory ingredients. Turmeric, green tea, and cherries are all excellent sources of anti-inflammatory compounds. Add them to your diet, and you will be glad you did, says Spine-Health.
- Don’t sit or stand for excessive periods. Everyone, listen up: this is the goal. Do not sit or stand for excessive periods! This will lead to built-up pressure and back pain. Alternate between sitting and standing, which is simple when utilizing a standing desk. Take frequent breaks and get moving.
- Get better sleep. Buy a better mattress and make sure you’re sleeping in a back-friendly position. While you’re at it, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Enough sleep each night will reduce stress levels. And, surprise! Too much stress can lead to back pain, so let’s avoid it.
If your back pain doesn’t go away after a few weeks, it may be time to see a doctor. This is also true if you’re experiencing numbness, muscle weakness, abdominal bladder and bowel experiences, or chronic illnesses.
No one likes back pain, and it is not inevitable. But there are some simple ways to reduce pain and future discomfort. The best tips are to stay active and get plenty of movement. Make sure you’re gait is correct and you’re wearing the right clothing and footwear. A good night’s sleep and a proper diet will also work wonders for your back.
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Ahhhhh. New year. New you. 2020 is in full swing and many of us are feeling inspired and ambitious as the new decade kicks off.
Despite not losing as much weight or eating as many greens you set out to last January, something feels different about this year, and those aspirations get recycled back onto your annual to-do list. In fact, according to Inc. these were the top 3 most common resolutions among Americans in 2019:
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
If your aim is to elevate your energy, health, quality of life, and your relationships, these are perfect resolutions.
But just like last year, you will likely not succeed…
Unless you shift your attention toward these 4 things:
1. Our sedentary lifestyle
By now, most of us are aware that we spend more time on our butts than suggested. At the office, at school, in the car, at the dinner table, and in front of the TV. The unfortunate truth is that sitting is a domino effect. It depletes our energy, mental state and productivity. If you don’t have the energy to exercise or cook a healthy meal for yourself after 8 hours of sitting at work, at school and while driving home, you are not alone. Standing and moving more throughout your day is vital to help maintain energy levels, motivation, and high spirits. If you want to improve your health, kiboshing the sedentary life is non-negotiable.
Resolution #1: Invite movement into your daily routine
Purchase a standing desk that enables you to switch between sitting and standing throughout the day, stretch at your desk, choose the high tables at cafes or restaurants that give you the ability to stand up every now and then, go on walk breaks.
2. Our vitamin N deficiency
In the technology age, people are able to accomplish more than ever before in a shorter amount of time. While the combination of technology + productivity has great perks, it has also caused humans to be deficient in an essential vitamin: Nature. Research from The Nature Principle proves that our alienation from nature leads to attention difficulties, obesity, higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses, and more. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity.” The good news is that like all vitamin deficiencies, this can be reversed. Recent studies focus less on what is lost when nature experience dwindles, but on what is gained through more exposure to natural settings, including nearby nature in urban places.
Resolution #2: Up your daily nature dose
Exercise outside, buy plants for your home and your office, sign up for a run or an event you have to train for outside, make camping/hiking reservations on the weekends, choose outdoor seating when available.
3. Our failing diets
The one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition no longer works. Tim Spector, professor and author of “The Diet Myth,” just wrapped the largest ongoing scientific nutrition study of its kind. The study explored how participants process their meals, and it yielded massively varying results. Even identical twins don’t react the same way to the same foods — which is why most diets do not work. Just because going Keto worked wonders for your cousins, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Spector’s hope is that the latest technologies (artificial intelligence, new gut microbiome tests or food logging apps) help people eat less of the foods that could lead to weight gain and other risks, and try new options they hadn’t considered.
Resolution #3: Get to know your gut
Take a micro-biome test to find out what foods fuel your body and what foods take a toll on your body. Download food logging apps and log how you feel after eating various foods. Cut back on foods that make you feel less than optimal and pay attention to the results. Patience is required for this trial and error method.
4. Our poor sleep quality
When it comes to our bodies, everything is connected. New research from 2019 showed that even mild sleep deprivation may negatively affect gut health, which in turn has a major impact on immunity, metabolic health, mood and cognition. Stress, technology emitting blue light, and discomfort are more obvious factors that contribute to poor sleep. But perhaps the most important is being unaware of our Chronotypes – the classification that teaches us what time of day our unique individual bodies function best. The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, says “There’s almost nothing you undertake in your waking life that isn’t affected by your chronotype, from your sex life to your diet to your ability to be a top performer in your career. Living in better alignment with your chronotype can help you do everything better AND enjoy everything more.”
Resolution #4: Hack your sleep
Take the chronotype quiz and adjust your schedule accordingly. Purchase glasses that block the blue light from your devices and wear them at least an hour before bed. Invest in a sleep tracker – we like the Oura Ring because it is comfortable to wear while sleeping.
Resolutions are nothing but positive. It’s admirable that most of us work to improve ourselves each year. Failing year after year, however, can be disheartening, so take advantage of the information and tools provided. Take a step back and approach your goals with a new perspective and a new plan. Again, the 4 action steps you can make today in order to accomplish your health resolutions are:
- Invite movement into your daily routine with a height-adjustable desk and more frequent walking/stretching
- Up your daily nature dose by exercising outdoors and buying indoor plants
- Get to know your gut by testing your microbiome
- Hack your sleep by discovering your chronotype and tracking it
Cheers to your best decade yet!
The main aim of office ergonomics is to enable every worker to perform their tasks efficiently while preserving their health. This has become somewhat challenging with so many people choosing to work from their mobile devices. Add the rapid pace of technological development and you get ergonomists working frantically to keep up.
Investing in contemporary office ergonomics has a certain pay off. You will have healthier and more efficient workers who are devoted to your company’s progress. With this in mind, here are several ways you can improve ergonomics in the workplace.
At its core, ergonomics is about aligning the workspace with the human body and not the other way around. When done properly, ergonomics reduces pain, increases productivity and decreases workers’ compensation claims.
However, the solution isn’t just buying everyone an adjustable office chair. Unfortunately ergonomics cannot be reduced to just one piece of equipment. It’s essentially a holistic approach to the way people work. Because we come in all shapes and sizes, we all work differently.
Contrary to common belief, ergonomics isn’t necessarily expensive. Sometimes it just takes furniture rearrangement so everything is within easy reach. And ergonomic equipment today isn’t as costly as it used to be, especially when compared to potential injury claims.
Typical ergonomic injuries
Ergonomic injuries typically take a long time to heal and can be ultimately more harmful than sudden injuries. Contrary to a sprained ankle resulting from a fall, an ergonomic injury is different. It’s a fundamental change in the structure of joints or muscles. As these injuries happen slowly and gradually, even the employee may be unaware of it. They might experience fatigue, stiffness, and pain initially. But as microscopic tears and inflammation continue to build up, the condition worsens.
Most workers just accept the condition as something that comes with the territory, but it doesn’t have to be so. Conditions such as repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel, back and neck pain can be prevented. This is done by replacing traditional equipment with ergonomic equipment.
Some employees are at a greater risk of ergonomic injuries than others. The obvious signs that they are under physical and psychological stress are clear. This includes awkward body postures, wrist deviations, frequent reaching, repeated vibration in arms, hands and body. The more risk factors there are for the employee, the bigger the chances they will develop a health issue.
To find the best solution, it’s necessary to do an ergonomic audit of your offices. This includes collecting all the data regarding job tasks, movement patterns, layout, and problem areas. This will help you make the necessary modifications.
Setting up the workstation
To help your company run at peak efficiency, you might need to consult an expert ergonomist in order to set up an ergonomic workstation. As each employee has different needs and modifications, it’ll be necessary to focus on different areas such as head positions, hand and arm positions, and seated positions. All adjustments must enable the worker to sit or stand comfortably without any strain.
Asthe people behind this master’s degree in product and interior design explain, designing a space requires a deeper study and understanding of the complexity of the world and the ability to adapt products to suit it. Creating a space that is both comfortable and functional requires the study of furniture ergonomics, adjustability, use of sustainable materials and lighting. Too much light can be overwhelming to the brain, and too little can cause eye strain that workers often try to compensate by adopting awkward postures. Ergonomists can help find the sweet spot.
Selecting the right equipment
Once you’ve got the analysis of your office environment and its specific needs, it is important to pick the right equipment. Ergonomic business solutions typically include ergonomic keyboards that adjust to hand size, arm length and body type, mice with options for both right and left-handed workers, wrist rests, adjustable standing desks and ergonomic chairs.
Involving the staff
People generally oppose change, even if it’s for their own good. To reap the benefits of workplace ergonomics, both the management and staff need to understand how important it is for everyone’s health. Most of your workers will have gotten used to their current work habits and fail to notice the connection between movement patterns and health. With ergonomic innovations, they’ll have to get out of their comfort zones and learn new skills.
Educate and encourage teams to make the necessary change by explaining that ergonomics is about the individual and how such changes can improve their long-term health through ergonomics awareness training.
Once you improve your office ergonomics, the overall mood, health and productivity will change in unexpected ways. Make sure you continue the communication with your employees to identify potential issues and find room for further improvement. By implementing the principles of contemporary office ergonomics, you will jumpstart a positive wave of increased productivity and improved health.
Author’s bio: Lillian Connors is an interior design expert and a senior content strategist at Spread the Word Solutions. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. She’s also deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.
Today more people than ever are working from home. While attending meetings and answering emails in our pajamas is extremely convenient, converting our homes into offices overnight has created quite a challenge for maintaining one’s productivity and health. If we are all striving to be as productive as possible with the time we allocate to work all while maintaining strong health, how do we optimize productivity and health in our home workspace?
Optimize Your Home Office
Standing Desks. Height adjustable desks are a simple way to dramatically increase the productivity of any work space. A 2016 study conducted at Texas A&M University showed that employees using standing desks had significant improvement when comparing markers for productivity against employees doing the exact same job in sitting desks. When this change is applied to home offices the increase in productivity has the potential to be even more dramatic.
Areas of productivity that have been observed to increase with the use of a standing desk:
- Executive cognitive function
- Work engagement
- Overall job performance
- Success rate
Improving every single one of these categories can be accomplished with the simple change of converting your traditional seated desk into a standing workstation.
Working from home can be similar to attempting to workout at home – sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. It is easier to be complacent and comfortable because this is the place you typically relax after a long day at the office. Now that your home is the office, it is important to transform a piece of your home into a legitimate workspace and standing desks force you to physically participate in this transformation by standing where you otherwise would be sitting. No longer are you lounging in your cushioned spinny chair, you are now standing, you are alert, up right, and re-focused.
Standing v. Sitting
Standing desks can fit anywhere traditional desks can, so there is no reason not to replace your old seated desk with a dynamic desk that goes from sitting to standing with a click of a button.
The beauty of height adjustable desks lay in the user’s ability to reap all the benefits of the standing desks, but when muscle fatigue sets in or you’d just rather sit for a few, you can scoot that ergonomic fluffy chair right on up and lower the table top to seated height.
So if standing desks can improve productivity and help transform a home office into a more engaging workspace, in addition to doing everything a regular old seated desk can when desired, why would one limit themself with the latter?
Throw tradition out the window and embrace the perks of innovation. Productivity is what matters when designing a home office, or even a regular office, not tradition.
Optimize Your Health
Sedentary lifestyles are becoming a societal norm. We are sitting on the couch, sitting at our desks, sitting in the car. Sitting. sitting, sitting. This is not a healthy way to live.
Health risks brought on by a sedentary lifestyle:
- Heart diseases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
This list is daunting, yet very real. Health complications such as these can make life difficult. Standing desks can help in combating this. When you convert sitting at your desk to standing time, it gives your body a rest from all of it’s rest.
In the previously mentioned study conducted at Texas A&M, standing desk users sat on average 1.6 hours less per day than their coworkers with traditional desks. When you extrapolate that over a week, month, and eventually a year, the benefits are staggering.
Health benefits observed from using a standing desk:
- Higher step count
- More burned calories
- Decreased physical discomfort
- More positive outlook
- Decreased time sitting (duh)
We are not meant to be sitting sixteen hours a day and lying down the other eight. The aforementioned list of health complications that can arise from excessive sitting is proof of that. Movement is life. Working at a standing desk compels the user to not only stand, but remain much more active than you would be in a chair.
Time to Stand
The goal is to design your home office to support an increase in productivity as well as a healthier lifestyle. We are all striving to optimize our lives. A standing desk in your home office is one simple way to do exactly that.
Author’s Bio: Xavier Mendiola is a health and wellness specialist with a biomedical sciences background. He is a personal trainer based out of Scottsdale, AZ and is extremely passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge to become the strongest version of themselves in every aspect of life.
Too much time sitting down may spell bad news for your health. Here are 8 ways to get out of your seat.
Chances are you’re reading this article while perched in a chair. And, if you’re like most computer users, you’ve been there for a while.
Consider how much you sit in a day. Driving during your morning commute to an 8-hour-a-day desk job, and then unwinding on the couch in front of the television all evening. What’s more, think about what you’re dependent on. Email, cell phone apps, direct-deposit paychecks, and online shopping? 10 or 20 years ago, these would have required you to get up and run errands.
If so, then you may have “sitting disease,” a catchy phrase for a sedentary lifestyle that might be putting your health at risk.
The Price of Sitting Too Much
In January 2010, British experts linked prolonged periods of sitting to a greater likelihood of disease. And that same month, Australian researchers reported that each hour spent watching TV is linked to an 18% increase in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Perhaps because that time is spent sitting down.
You’re Meant to Move
“Human beings evolved as a walking entity, exploring the world on our feet,” says James Levine, MD, author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot.
“The strangest thing in the world is that people spend all day scrunched in a chair. It’s a form of physical entrapment,” says Levine, who strolled on a treadmill in his office at a 1-mile-per-hour pace while being interviewed for this article.
Levine’s advice: Fight sitting disease by taking steps to become more physically active.
Get Up and Go
Here are 8 ways to help you sneak in some on-your-feet time in an otherwise desk-bound day.
1. Get NEAT.
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, and includes stretching, turning, and bending. Levine recommends that you aim for 10 minutes of NEAT each hour “‘I can’t afford the gym’ is no longer a barrier,” Levine says.
Exercise physiologist Fabio Comana, an instructor in San Diego State University’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, agrees with this approach to activity. “Get moving more often with small goals,” he says. “Stretch out your entire body, all the muscles that are cramped. If you do it five or six times a day, you’ll start to notice a difference.”
2. Think beyond a lunchtime workout.
“Getting 1 hour of exercise in the middle of the day is better than not doing anything, but that still leaves 7 hours of sitting during the workday,” says David Dunstan, PhD, who heads the physical activity laboratory in the metabolism and obesity division at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
“Have a whole-day approach to physical activity,” he says. Comparatively, go for a walk at lunch instead of chatting in the break room, or similarly, use the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. Pretend it’s 1985.
Have a question for your co-worker down the hall? Don’t shoot him an e-mail; walk to his cubicle and ask him face to face. Surprisingly, some companies have instituted email-free Fridays to get employees out of their chairs more often, Levine says.
4. Take a stand.
Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting. Likewise, train yourself to stand whenever you talk on the telephone, and pace during staff meetings if your boss will allow it.
5. Rearrange the office.
Help your company encourage its employees to be more physically active without suggesting that they install treadmills at every workstation, Levine says. Moreover, start having walk-and-talk meetings with your co-workers, and get out of the conference room. Move trash cans out of cubicles to make people walk to throw out garbage. Relocate water-coolers by windows, where people will want to congregate.
6. End your workday with a bang.
Typically, you lose steam as 5 p.m. approaches, Comana says. “But if you take a brisk, 15-minute walk in the afternoon, you’ll be far more productive in your last 2 hours,” he suggests. “If you’re worried that you don’t have time for a walk, you may be surprised that you get your work done more quickly afterward.”
7. Rethink your commute.
If you take a bus or train to work, you can stand up while riding; or do exercises, like clenching and relaxing your muscles; or you can get off a stop early and walk several blocks. In addition, if mass transit isn’t an option, find a distant parking spot so that you walk for a few minutes before and after work, Dunstan says.
8. Multitask while watching TV.
Lastly, pull your dust-covered treadmill out of retirement, place it in front of the television, and allow yourself to watch only when you’re walking. No exercise equipment? March in place, or tidy the room. Of course, just don’t be a couch potato. Furthermore, research shows that the longer you sit watching television, the greater your waist circumference, and the higher your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, Dunstan says.
Why Choose a Standing Desk?
Thinking about installing a standing desk for your own office space? Take a look at some of the reasons why you should.
Less Obesity Risk
Leading standing desk researcher, James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, conducted a study on a group of office workers. The participants all added 1,000 calories to their daily intake and were asked not to change any exercise or movement habits. Some of the workers gained weight while others did not. Curious as to what was making the difference, Levine and his team sewed sensors into the undergarments of the workers to track daily movement. What they found was that the group not gaining weight actually sat much less than the other workers. Even if they were just standing to stretch or walk to the bathroom, the group that did not experience weight gain sat 2.25 hours less than their peers.
Levine is quick to point out that standing is just the start. To really experience optimal health, sedentary workers must actually walk around more. But a standing desk is a start (and standing burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting anyway).
Reduced Cancer Risk
Breast cancer and colon cancer are the ones that appear most related to lack of physical activity. A study from 2011 reported that 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer annually are caused by prolonged sitting. Though the cases weren’t as conclusive, the same study reported that ovarian, prostate, lung, and endometrial cancer also showed a strong connection to prolonged sitting. There is not a definitive answer as to why sitting appears to cause these types of cancer, but it’s possible that increases in C-reactive protein, found in people who sit for long periods of time, is the culprit.
It makes sense that mortality may rise since sitting too much is related to cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Consider the findings from this 2011 study: Americans increase their life expectancy two years by reducing the sitting time from the standard six hours to just three hours per day, instead.
If you want to improve your posture and reduce eye strain, a standing desk is a smart option. It’s important to set it up the right way, though. Your computer screen should sit just above resting eye level, so you have to look up slightly to see it. This keeps you from hunching over or slouching as you tap away on your keyboard. The simple act of standing will also improve your core strength, leading to better overall posture.
Important Standing Desk Considerations
Standing desks are beneficial for our health but there are some things to keep in mind as we make the transition.
1. Start Slow
Don’t try to go from six hours of sitting to zero overnight. As mentioned earlier, aim to sit just three of your waking hours each day. Start with just 20 minutes at a time at your standing desk. Add more and more time until you are comfortable. Standing on our feet may not sound like a lot of work. Since we are sitting the majority of the day, we strain ourselves from standing too often and too fast.
2. Use a Mat
Take it easy on your knees, hips, and ankles by using a gel mat where you plan to stand. Take it a step further and wear non-slip, supportive shoes, too.
3. Face the Adjustment Head-On
If standing is too distracting to do work, use your sitting times when you need that extra concentration. You may find the standing desk a little distracting at first, but you’ll likely adjust and learn to refocus with time.
4. Set it Up Right
Your computer screen should sit 15 to 30 inches from your eyes, with your eye level even with (or slightly below) your screen. Keep your wrists flat and your elbows at a 90-degree angle. If you feel like any part of your body is straining while you are standing then you need to make adjustments to make it more comfortable.
Standing does burn more calories than sitting but to really see optimal health benefits make sure you are walking throughout the workday, too. The American Heart Association suggests 10,000 steps per day at a minimum. Buy a pedometer or a fitness tracker and add in steps where you see fit during the day. Look for creative ways to do other exercises during the workday, too, that stretch your muscles and keep your circulation and metabolism going.
Simply follow these easy to comprehend steps and be on your way to better health, a prolonged lifespan, and a truly elevated life. #GoodbyeSittingDisease