Sitting too much

It’s easy to assume that just because you work in an office and are not exposed to heavy, sharp, abrasive, loud and generally all round pain inducing hazards that there is no need to look after health and safety.  Wrong…office worker get aches and pains all the time.  A recent study into this issue revealed some interesting facts:

Sitting too much

  • Three in five (60%) office workers experience regular or occasional low back pain.
  • The average office worker spends almost nine hours a day in front of a computer, sits at work for up to three hours at a time without getting up, sits for almost one and a half hours while commuting to and from work, and watches TV for more than two hours.  That’s a lot of sitting.
  • Women aged 18–34 years have the worst posture.
  • More than 50% of office workers do not consciously take breaks to stand and move around.

This all adds up to a problem in the workplace that is not going to go away.  All in all our society is getting more dependent on computers and this is going to affect our health and wellbeing.  I love the picture below.  It is true, but what is startling the fact that we have taken millions of year to develop through the first 5 stage, 100’s of year for the next stage and 10’s of year for the last stage to using computers.  Simply put, our bodies are not adapted to what we are asking it to do.

The evolution of man

What can we do?

The best solution is of course not to sit so much.  This is much easier said than done in a workplace where everything is done with computers.  With this in mind here are a few options for workplaces.

  • Educate workers regarding these facts, and that there are actually health and wellbeing risks associated with what they do.
  • Make sure our bodies are placed in the optimal position when we are sitting.
  • Implement approaches that encourage more standing.  These could include:

o   Software that reminds us periodically to stand.

o   Sit/stand desk – there are a variety of products on offer here

o   Walking meetings

o   Standing staff meetings

o   There are even some bold moves to get us moving more at our desk with treadmill workstations.  I’m not sure if this will be widely adopted, but into the future we are going to need to do something to solve this problem.

Treadmill workstation