Sitting all day at a desk has become all too common for most of us. These desk jobs have led to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy daily habits that carry over at home. As we go about our busy days, it can be hard to find time to get up and move around to break up the 8-9 hours of sitting. But there is more and more evidence showing that this large block of inactivity in your day can have a lasting effect on multiples aspects of your health. If you listen closely, your body will tell you what it needs. Below are some signs that it’s time to stand up.
5 Ways Your Body Is Telling You to Move
1) Weakened Legs
When you sit for 8 plus hours a day, you are reducing your lower body strength. Not only do the glutes and quads weaken from lack of use, but muscles in the legs and pelvis can shorten. This can increase your risk for injury when out of the office and increase pain when you are in the office.
2) Back Pain
If you do not have ergonomic furniture, general bad posture, or just large amounts of inactive time can have quite an impact on back health. As with your legs and glutes, muscles can suffer from shortening due to lack of use. Low back pain can actually be caused by muscles on the front of the body, such as the iliopsoas (a deep-seated core muscle connecting the lumbar vertebrae to the femur), shortening and pulling on the back. This can lead to the entire area tightening and causing stiffness and pain.
3) Negative Mood
As good as it feels to do nothing and relax when we’re home during off hours, too much of a good thing isn’t actually a good thing. When your day lacks movement and physical activity, it can start to have a huge impact on your mood. Something as little as using your breaks to get up and walk around the block can increase endorphins and help regulate your mood.
4) Heart Issues
Heart health is something we all think about or at least we should. Even if you get in regular exercise, a large amount of stationery hours can have more of an impact than that hour at the gym can reverse. We sit all day, go to the gym for an hour, then go home and sit and watch TV for hours in the evening. All this combined is a dangerous mix that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
5) Stiff Neck and Shoulders
The final stop moving up the body is the neck and shoulders. If you are looking at a monitor all day, you are not only straining your eyes you likely are practicing poor posture. Tension sits in the shoulders from hunching over, staring at a monitor at the wrong height, or looking at paperwork on your desk causing pain and strain.
Little Changes for Big Benefits
It’s not too late. Even if the aches and pains have already set in, you can make some changes for the good. Move on your breaks or invest in a standing desk. Just the act of standing can help stretch shortened muscles and improve heart health. Make sure you have a suitable chair and monitor at the right height to create less neck and back strain. Take deep breaths, a moment to yourself, walk around every 30 minutes, or just do a little wiggle if you need to. Not only will this help muscles, it will help your mood and release some stress. I am lucky to work with a group of amazing coworkers that understand the importance of laughter and getting the wiggles out. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help keep you happier, healthier, and injury free at your 9-5, 1-10, or whatever your hours may be.
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