Working From Home Can Be A Pain
by Dr James DiGiuseppe, Chiropractor
The trend of working from home has been increasing significantly in the past several years. But not until the Covid pandemic did working from home become more popular that going to the office. To do it right your work station at home needs to be just as ergonomically correct as it is at the office, starting with a good chair and proper heights of your desk and computer screen. Using your couch or bed as a work space puts significant postural stress on your spine. When sitting for prolonged periods of time you need proper lumbar support. Having your work station in the family zone of the house makes it far too easy to go from sitting for work to sitting to eat to sitting to binge watch Netflix. Even if your precovid job used to always be mostly behind a desk, at least you had to get up to go to the printer, talk to colleagues, go for lunch, walk to the parking lot, walk further down the hall to use the washroom. You most likely made more frequent trips to the grocery store, gas station and coffee shop. All these little activities actually add up throughout the day. Just simply standing in one spot rather than sitting causes you to: burn more calories, strengthens your leg and back muscles, strengthens your spine and bones, increases your balance. Walking improves these things even more.
Several studies have now proven what scientists and the general public have known for years. Inactivity has a negative impact on your health. Prolonged sitting can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and overall death rate. The new tag line in the scientific community these days is that sitting is the “new smoking”.
When combining all sitting throughout the waking day, which includes in the car, at the desk, in front of the television or computer, the average person sits for 7-8 hours per day. In fact, health professionals have started to unofficially call long periods of inactivity and its negative consequences the “sitting disease”.
What is even more astonishing with these studies is that they report that whether or not you engaged in a few hours of vigorous exercise throughout the week made no difference to your risks. In other words, the negative effects of prolonged sitting are significantly more influential on your health than the positive effects of doing an hour of exercise 3 times per week.
So where do we go from here? How do we change this pattern? Well, the first step is awareness. If you have read this far into my column you are now considered aware. The next step is to take action, literally. Even if you have a desk job there are ways to creatively get up and get moving. Making some of your phone calls while you are standing or even walking, design your work station with alternate heights, keep your work space as far away from your family zone as possible, put the printer in another room or on a different floor are all great ideas. At the very least have a timer that reminds you to stand up and move around for 5 minutes every half hour.
A joint report from ParticipACTION and the Conference Board of Canada state that: by getting just 10% of Canadian adults to sit less and move more would decrease government health care costs by billions of dollars. With a little bit of effort hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancers combined would be reduced by over 600 000 cases by 2040.
It is ironic that in this high tech world we now live in, the best advice to maintain your health is old school: sit up straight, stay active daily and wash your hands.