Are you someone who spends long hours sitting in front of a computer screen? Then you may be familiar with some of the negative effects of sitting for prolonged hours, such as tired limbs and reduced blood circulation. However, did you know that sitting for too long can also affect your heart, and kidneys, and might increase the chances to develop diabetes?
I found aum balance with the belief that creating healthy practices is key when striving as an individual and professional: that’s why my goal for this article is to help you create awareness about the importance of regular movement breaks during your day.
So before reading further I’d like to invite you to stand up, break away from the screen and have a little stretch.
Why Taking Breaks Is Crucial
When it comes to our overall well-being, taking regular breaks is a must. The stress of day-to-day life can have an impact on mental and physical health – if we don’t manage this carefully, burnout could be around the corner! Numerous studies have shown that taking regular breaks can help reduce stress levels. Taking short timeouts during your work helps give your brain some much-needed rest and allows you to reset – assisting with improving moods as well as energy levels. Even something as simple as going on a walk or doing some light stretching can be incredibly beneficial; helping with blood flow, and mood management and even reducing risk factors like developing dangerous clots. Allowing yourself moments throughout the day helps boost our sense of self-care – making us more productive both professionally and personally!
Let’s take now a look at the impacts of sitting for prolonged times and explore ways to get up and moving!
The Impact on Your Health of Sitting for Prolonged Hours
Increase in Kidney Disease
Studies show that women who limit their sitting time are 30% less likely than those who sit longer duration to develop kidney disease. And while exercise helps combat its effects on both genders its effects aren’t as pronounced for women so they should aim firstly at finding ways to reduce how much time they sit down each day.
According to research exploring the correlation of physical inactivity with insulin resistance, there is evidence to support the idea that a lack of physical activity can lead to insulin resistance and impaired blood vessel function in otherwise healthy individuals. This suggests that prolonged periods of inactivity may have harmful effects on human health and be a precursor of diabetes.
When you sit for extended periods, your blood flow slows down, which can lead to blood pooling in your legs. Over time, this can cause the veins in your legs to become swollen and twisted, leading to the development of varicose veins. Women unfortunately are more likely to develop varicose veins than men, and prolonged sitting can increase the risk even more.
Shoulder, Neck and Back Pain
Sitting for long periods can lead to poor posture, causing shoulder, neck, and back pain. When we sit, we tend to slouch and hunch over, which can put pressure on our spine and lead to pain and discomfort. This can lead to chronic pain and may even require medical treatment. One study found that people who sit for more than six hours a day are more likely to experience back pain than those who sit for less than three hours.
Loss of Productivity with Lesser Breaks
Taking regular breaks when you’re working is much more important than it may seem. Our brains get tired just like our bodies, so if we work for long periods without taking some time off to recharge, our focus naturally decreases, and productivity drops. Studies dating back over 20 years suggest that there are natural variations in alertness throughout the day which means we can only concentrate properly for 90 minutes before needing a break – something even experienced workers need to remember! Taking an intentional break will help keep your brain sharp by allowing it to reset and refresh its concentration levels – try setting yourself reminders or blocking out specific times of the day in your calendar where you know that’s what needs doing!
7 Tips for Prioritizing Health and Wellbeing at Work
Take Breaks Regularly
Start by taking regular breaks throughout the day, even if you feel busy. Your health comes first and it doesn’t mean that you have to take long periods away from work! Shorter but more frequent pauses are better for maintaining focus over time; set an hourly timer as a reminder of when it’s break time so you don’t forget or let fatigue creep up on you before too long. Taking just a few minutes every hour can reduce stress levels significantly, especially if done in conjunction with focusing on something distant instead of continuingly staring at your screen!
Don’t Eat at Your Desk!
Eating your lunch at your desk might seem like a time-saver, but taking the opportunity to get away from work for a few minutes can have real benefits! Instead of mindlessly munching in front of the computer screen, why not try stepping into an area where you and your colleagues can chat over some food? It not only aids digestion but also provides the opportunity for social connection in an inspiring environment. After you’re done fuelling up, take some time off for yourself by going on a brief walk – digestion will thank you later!
At work you can create healthy habits together with your colleagues – get everyone motivated to join in and foster that connection and collaboration even further.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is an important part of feeling your best. Water not only fuels our minds and bodies, but it also helps naturally flush toxins from us! To maximize these effects, try starting each morning with a refreshing glass of lemon water – you’ll feel more energized and focused to tackle whatever comes at you during the day!
To counteract the negative effects of long hours spent sitting at a desk, incorporate exercises that target your back, shoulder, and neck muscles. Yoga provides an awesome opportunity: not only does it help strengthen important core and stability muscles but its relaxation benefits will manifest holistically in all aspects of life; from stress reduction to improved flexibility. Make yoga part of yours today!
Adjust Chair, Desk, and Screen to Your Height
Make sure to create the ideal workspace environment tailored specifically for you! When adjusting your chair, ensure that both feet are firmly planted on the floor and that hips sit slightly above the knees. Consider positioning armrests in line with elbow height as well – this small element can make a world of difference. Lastly, bring your monitor eye level because looking down or up all day will put an unwanted strain on your neck muscles!
Wear Compression Stockings
If you’re concerned about varicose veins, don’t wait – take some steps now that may help reduce your risk. Compression stockings can assist with circulation and incorporating dry brushing massage before showering in the morning could also stimulate blood flow to protect your legs.
Prioritize Your Health and Thrive in Your Career
Taking time to nurture our well-being should be at the top of everyone’s list. It can seem like there is never enough time in a day to make ourselves feel better, but setting aside even some small moments for yourself will go a long way. As Gandhi said: “be the change you wish to see in this world“, and now more than ever we need people who are willing to speak up about their health needs so that others may follow! If your work environment fails take notice, and don’t hesitate to contact someone – whether it be HR or management – on how important breaks (and other measures) are when striving towards staying healthy and happy while at work.
- Naomi M. Hamburg, Craig J. McMackin, Alex L. Huang, Sherene M. Shenouda, Michael E. Widlansky, Eberhard Schulz, Noyan Gokce, Neil B. Ruderman, John F. KeaneyJr and Joseph A. Vita. “Physical Inactivity Rapidly Induces Insulin Resistance and Microvascular Dysfunction in Healthy Volunteers”. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2007.
- Sarah Glynn. “Sitting For Long Periods Increases Risk Of Kidney Disease”. Medical News Today. 2012
- K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer. “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”. Psychological Review, Vol. 100. No. 3. 1993.
- “Working safely with display screen equipment”. HSE. 2023.