“Sitting is the new smoking” is a phrase that researchers have been using recently to describe the deleterious effects of prolonged sitting.

You may have heard this phrase being thrown around, and looking at our current lifestyles it could not be truer. The average office worker spends around 6 ½ hours sitting, per day. Add on the hours spent in front of the TV or computer at night and you have close to 10 hours of sitting!

What most people don’t realise is the drastic effect this is having on their posture and overall health. To counteract the huge number of hours we spend sitting at the desk here are a few healthy things you can do…

1. 20 min/1 hr breaks
Take regular breaks! Every 20 minutes you should take a brief ‘movement break’: extend your lower back, roll your shoulders, stand and touch your toes (can you touch your toes?!) and move your neck through its full range of motion. Once per hour it’s good to stand up and walk around for a few minutes, to improve circulation to the limbs. Did you know that after sitting for 30 minutes your metabolism slows by around 50%, causing you to store more fat!

2. Breathe!
Someone who is sitting with a poor, hunched over posture immediately gets 20% less oxygen to their brain.
This slows down brain function and can make you less productive. By sitting up straight and taking full breaths, you will immediately feel less tired and be more productive.

3. Stretch
Sitting, particularly with poor posture, tightens up a lot of muscles in the body. Having tight, imbalanced muscles can cause pain and headaches, as well as greatly increasing the chances of picking up an injury when you do go and exercise. There are some great (and free!) stretching videos found on YouTube you can use to guide your stretching session after a period of prolonged sitting.

4. Desk / Chair / Screen Height
Having your workstation properly set up is essential to being able to hold a good posture for the entire day. As a general rule, your screen should be up at eye level, your chair should be high enough so that your shoulders are relaxed (rather than up around your ears) and you should be pushed into the back of your chair so that it is supporting a healthy curve in your lower back.

5. See a chiropractor
Sitting with poor posture leads to restrictions in the spine, putting pressure on the spinal nerves and will also eventually lead to osteoarthritis or degeneration of the spine. It can only take four weeks for a restriction in the spine to start causing degenerative changes. Chiropractors have the knowledge and expertise to locate these restrictions and correct them, taking the pressure off the nerves and allowing your body to function and move optimally. For further information on chiropractic, or to schedule a spinal exam, head to our website below.

In summary, sitting with poor posture leads to a slower digestive system, less oxygen to the brain as well as causing tight muscles and a lack of movement in the spine. By sitting up straight, taking regular breaks and stretching you can prevent these issues. If you find that you are already having issues associated with sitting at the desk and poor posture, talk to a chiropractor who will be able to help.

– Dr Steve Bowers, Chiropractor

At Align Chiropractic and Wellness we offer free or low-cost corporate wellness talks and ergonomic assessments that we come and deliver to your staff. Give us a call if you would like more information on this.

(09) 222 1299
level 3, 4 Vulcan Lane, Auckland CBD