We’ve all seen the headlines that emphasize the dangers of sedentary behavior, particularly for those who sit at a desk throughout the day. The headlines may grab your attention and scare you, but here are some facts that are worth your consideration.
The biggest danger comes from sitting for long periods of time.
If you need to sit for your job, try to sit for less than 11 hours a day, and make every effort to move every 30 minutes or so.
The more you sit, the more your body needs exercise to compensate for that sitting.
While no amount of exercise can completely make up for sitting for long periods of time, studies show the positive effects of exercise when parts of your day are sedentary.
If you’re concerned about the amount of time you’re sitting at your desk, you might consider using a standing desk to add some variety to your posture during the day. The studies advising standing desks recommend sitting for 30 minutes and standing for 30 minutes each hour. While people who get these desks might commit to such constant change at first, they often end up sitting at their desks when shifting back and forth becomes cumbersome, particularly if you have a desk that requires manual lifting and lowering.
So what are good alternatives?
When you’re simply trying to avoid sedentary behavior and don’t feel that a standing desk would work for you, here are some habits you can adopt during your work day:
Change your sitting position frequently (every few minutes).
Get up and move frequently (every 30 minutes).
Get up at work, when possible stand up and work in other locations.
Get up and take a short walk every hour or two in your work area.
Take a 15-minute walk for every four hours of work.
While individuals with back pain can see real benefits with a standing desk, it is important to establish and adopt movement habits and patterns that alleviate pressure and get your body moving. Proper posture, whether you’re sitting or standing, with an effort to increase your activity throughout the day will be beneficial to your body.
Remember that as physical therapists we are trained in understanding and teaching good body mechanics. While many understand the value of our rehabilitation services, our preventive services are equally beneficial.