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Sitting is the new smoking and why you need to improve your posture today

Since I started to work in IT-land in 2008 I’ve began to experience physical problems related to bad posture. My symptoms ranged from sudden headaches up to anxiety attacks. This is when I started to look into ways to improve my own posture.

One thing I did to improve my posture was by switching my position from sitting to standing multiple times during the day. Our body is made for movement and sitting for 8 hours straight without moving isn’t the best choice for our bodies.

Have a look at my desk setup to get some inspiration on how to setup your workspace to switch positions during the day more often.

But don’t just take my word for it. Meet Feyyaz. Feyyaz is a dear friend of mine and runs a blog called bitehype where he writes about movement and food. For us he has written a guest post where he goes into why we should switch posture positions during the day in more detail. Enjoy!

Make sure to read until the very end. We have a small announcement where you can win an app, read more below…

Enter Feyyaz:


As a fellow Desk Hunter, my desk has been featured before and if you remember, I said that I loved to rotate desks during the day.

Now for most people, that can be an annoyance mainly because we tend to fall into flow state (best case) or just mindlessly surf around the web without realizing that we’re not actually doing any work (worst case).

In either case just sitting for 8 hours is a bad decision. Well, guess what? Standing for 8 hours is probably just as bad as a decision for people who are untrained.

I don’t like the extremes, but I like balance. Balance is the way to go for many things, also when it comes to work place productivity.

I’d argue that we could all increase our productivity if we’d rotate our desks regularly. But why do we need to do that?

There are multiple reasons and I’d like to tackle two today.

  1. “Sitting is the new smoking”
  2. Our posture is bad when sitting

Let’s look at the first one.

1. Sitting is the new smoking

Yes, it’s everywhere. Everyone tells you how bad sitting is, but what is the real issue behind it?

Actually even the scientists are not entirely sure yet, but here’s what we do know:

When you sit you don’t move.

Well duh! Let me explain: Since your body was made to move, technically it makes sense to move more than you sit still, at least when you’re not resting. But today’s lifestyle doesn’t force us to move anymore.

We get our meats, vegetables and berries from the store, so no more hunting and gathering.

We drive with our cars to work and back home, so that we don’t actually have to walk. And even though we know that we should go to the gym, we regularly skip it because we are lazy.

Couple that with bad nutritional choices and you have the statistics of certain studies, where “people who sit a lot are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease”.

But there is also a muscular problem, which I think is just as important and more relatable:

Anterior posterior graphic

Depending on your sitting position, chances are you fall into either category A or B. Probably A if you have been told to sit straight and probably B if you’re browsing through the web or working away.

The issue with the seated position for a long time is that the hip flexors can get really tight, simply because you don’t extend them at all! Decreased hip mobility in turn will limit your performance outside of work.

The hip flexor will increasingly pull your spine, which will mess up your posture.

Now of course, one way to solve that would be by regularly stretching your hip flexors with this:

Hip flexor stretch exercise

But that’s only taking care of the symptom, not the reason for the problem.

And that’s my next point.

2. Our posture is bad when sitting

Although you tend to correct your posture over time when you’re sitting, chances are it’s still bad 95% of the time.

Your crunched over your monitor or your laptop like you can’t see well. Your neck hurts and you want to stretch it, but you can’t. Your knees and legs feel weird and you want to walk and stretch them out from time to time.

These are all symptoms that are caused by bad desk choices or rather not moving throughout the day.

Computer posture example

The solution here is obviously to move more, so here’s my suggestion:

Every 1-2 hours rotate your desks, by choosing a sitting, standing, squatting or laying down position.

I can already hear you say that you don’t have a standing desk and it’s too expensive to buy. Actually it’s not and I’ll show you how.

The solution is the IKEA LACK table, for $7.99.

You can use that to add to your existing desks and it will work for 90% of the general population. For the taller or smaller heights, you’ll have to adjust with books or angles as much as possible.

The cool thing with the LACK is also that you can use it for squatting. Simply remove it from your desk and put it on the floor, laptop on and you’re good to go. That’s how I work throughout the day.

If you don’t have an option for laying down, talk to your boss about the importance of naps and maybe you can organize a used couch or so?

Now if you have a very strict environment where you can’t organize an IKEA LACK table (and even if you can), there are other things you can do to stay healthy at the workplace.

That’s why together with the Desk Hunt team I’ve worked on a Mac App that reminds you to work on your posture and your movement throughout the day. Depending on the set timer, you will get a notification, telling you to do a certain exercise, that will help with your posture.

Here’s how it looks.

Posture Coach App

The image is animated, so the gif will show you can do it and the text will explain the details.

We have 5 free copies that we’d like to give out to 5 lucky Desk Hunt readers. The only thing you have to do is post an image of your desk on Instagram and tag the Instagram account @deskhunthq with a reason why you need Posture Coach!

Conclusion

As you can see the problem that we have as desk workers is to fold: Sitting is bad for us if we do it for a long time and even if we stand for the entire work day, it’s still unhealthy. So the solution is to rotate desks and move through your day. One way to do it is via having multiple desk setups with a simple solution like the LACK table from IKEA. Another alternative is to use something like Posture Coach.

What do you do to move throughout the day? Tell us on twitter @deskhunthq.

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Me by Daniel Puglisi