Friday, March 6, 2015

Your Desk Job Is a Health Risk

Devin Christman, PT, DPT

The alarm wakes you at 6 a.m. You get up, shower, dress and sit down to eat breakfast.  Next, you get in your car and sit for your commute to work.  You take a few steps to enter your office and proceed to sit at your deskfor eight hours.  You commute home, followed by eating dinner, watching TV or reading a book until it is time for bed. If this is a typical day for you, then you are at an increased risk for a variety of health conditions that can shorten your life.

Research Shows Effects of Prolonged Sitting

A 2008 research study by Vanderbilt University revealed that on average people spend 7.7 hours/day seated when they are awake. This sedentary lifestyle has been found to lead to the following:

  • Increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity and certain cancers
  • Increased incidence of neck pain, back pain and headaches
  • Muscle atrophy from inactivity
  • Increased risk of disability later in life

What Can You Do To Reduce Your Risk?

Changes to your daily routine can be made to reduce the total amount of time spent sitting each day and decrease the health risks listed above. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Replace your desk chair with an exercise ball to increase energy use and improve posture.
  • Take breaks from prolonged sitting by getting up every 30 to 60 minutes to stretch and walk.
  • When you aren’t working, participate in moderately intense exercise or activity for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Activities can include brisk walking, golf, mowing the lawn or cleaning.
  • Perform work activities in a standing position when possible or get up from your desk at intervals throughout the day. For example, stand when talking on the phone, make several trips to the copy machine or walk to co-worker’s office to talk instead of using email.  
  • Inquire at work about having a standing work station or treadmill desk to increase activity levels while maintaining work productivity.


A physical therapist can help if you develop back or neck pain, headaches or other conditions despite efforts to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk all day. Call 1-888-44-REHAB (43422) or contact us online today to schedule an appointment.

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