So many of us spend most of our day sat down. This may be because we sit at a desk to work, drive and get stuck in traffic, or simply because at the end of the day we curl up in front of the television wrapped up against these cold and dark evenings. While it may not seem a big problem, a sedentary lifestyle can impact our health and wellbeing causing conditions ranging from poor posture and backache to sciatica and obesity.
With 8.9 million working days lost to musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/71 it is also a problem that employers can’t afford to ignore. But, without needing to drastically change your lifestyle, there are a number of ways that you can prevent injuries associated with long periods of sitting.
Follow a healthy and active lifestyle
Being active offers so many benefits for our mental and physical health and doing some activity during the day will help counteract the effects of being sat down for long periods. Exercise is a great way to get your body moving as well as release stress, burn extra calories and boost our immune system.
Pilates is a great form of low impact exercise suitable for all ages and fitness level. It tones your muscles, which in turn support your skeleton to continue moving well, and helps improve balance and flexibility. Pilates moves concentrate on strengthening your core muscles i.e. your abdominals and side stomach muscles, which are responsible for holding your spine in a good position and keeping your hips aligned. People who practise pilates report better posture when sitting and walking, they also tend to have a better understanding of their bodies which helps them to identify niggles and prevent injury.
It can also really benefit people that do other sports, especially running and cycling, as it stretches out the muscles and builds strength all over, which can help to protect and rehabilitate injury prone areas.
At desk stretching
While pilates is traditionally done on a mat on the floor, there are a number of exercises that can be completed without having to leave the office or get changed into gym gear. These include making small circles with your nose to stretch your neck, and raising and lowering your shoulders in a shrugging action.
These moves can really help when you need to be seated for prolonged periods, ideally you’d take a brisk walk every hour but that is not always possible so, in the same way that cabin crew advises you to do chair exercises when taking long haul fights, following an office chair stretching routine can help.
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Health and Safety Executive – Labour Force Survey (ONS), 2017
Photgraphs by elizabeth lies and wee lee on Unsplash