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How many hours in a day do you find yourself sitting down?
If you have a desk job, you spend the majority of your 8-hour-work day sitting down. Then, take into account the time you spend sitting down while driving (or commuting in a bus or train) and the time you relax at home when you get back from work.
It’s quite a lot, isn’t it?
Assuming you sleep 8 hours (like you’re supposed to), you have 16 hours to do your activities. Most often than not, we spend half of that (if not more) sitting down. Add to the equation that we don’t always hold the correct posture when we sit, stand or walk. And we’re amazed why we’re having back, shoulder or neck pain.
When I worked in pastry, I ran around the kitchen all day long. The 10,000-step-a-day challenge that people talk about, I could easily reach it within my work hours.
I may have a lean body, but my leg and arm muscles were toned from running around and picking up heavy stuffs all day long. Have you ever tried picking up a 50-lb of bread flour on a daily basis? Or a 60-quart mixer filled with cake batter (or eggnog when it was Christmas season)?
Yes, it could be physically exhausting, but I loved the active movement of my whole body.
Since I started blogging, I have found myself to be sitting down WAY too much. With the amount of reading, writing, and keeping up with blogging-related duties, I sit a lot lately.
How often do you find yourself sitting hunched in front of the computer? (Me: Most of the time.)
Do you know that sitting up straight is actually NOT the correct way of sitting? (Uhm…No. I thought that’s what we’re supposed to do.)
Are you suffering from neck strain, shoulder and back pain? (I got more of those lately and eye strain too from staring at the computer too much.)
I am pretty sure if I keep this up, I will encounter more serious health problems down the road.
So, what practices can we adopt to counter all the necessary sitting down we do in our daily life?
1. Take frequent breaks.
Every 45 minutes, get up from your chair, walk around and stretch. Don’t use the break from the computer to check on your cellphone. Do you realize that we tend to be hunching down when we look down to check our phones? The pain on your neck, they aptly call it “tech” pain.
Gaze outside the window. Focus on your breath. Or just walk around the desk if it’s not possible to go outside. In addition to boosting blood circulation, these little breaks give your mind a rest too.
2. Try to do 1-2 hours of your work hours standing.
If you work in an office, you might not get to ask for a standing desk. But, try to do 1-2 hours of your work hours standing anyway. Stand when you take a phone call. Stand up and stretch every hour. Figure out how you can stand up from the chair when you are not doing tasks that require your full attention.
3. Exercise for 30 minutes before going to work and after work.
Maybe do aerobic exercise in the morning to give you a boost of energy for the day. Then, do something relaxing like yoga in the evening to calm your mind and stretch the body to undo the effects from sitting down all day long.
4. Learn the proper way of sitting down.
I always thought that sitting up straight is the proper way to sit down. That was what they taught us at school or what my mom told us when she saw us slouching. But apparently, when you sit up straight for extended period of time, you put a lot of pressure on your spine and hips. The right way is to lean back on the chair in a way that the curves of your spine are all properly positioned.
Ergonomic chairs are designed with this in mind. But, we don’t have ergonomic chairs everywhere we go. The seat in the buses or trains are hard and straight up. The seats in our cars have some curves, but we still find ourselves hunching over while we are driving.
So, the next best thing to an ergonomic chair is an ergonomic pillow that can help us improve our posture wherever we sit.
I came across this project by Posture Meets Design. A chiropractor and his daughter (Bruno and Jesabel Dupont) aim to help people find ways to a better posture through purposeful design. So, they create beautiful, versatile ergonomic pillows specifically designed to help improve your posture.
“The pillows were designed to push the right parts of your spine so that when you lean onto it, the curves of your spine are all properly positioned and the muscle of your back and shoulders are relaxed, yet the core muscles are active. This means that when you stand up, those muscles will keep you standing up properly without slouching over.” – Posture Meets Design
There are 3 different sizes of pillows, and you can use each of them on its own or mix and match according to what you’re doing. They are stylish and very transportable so you can use them in the office, at home, while doing yoga or traveling.
Below are some pictures of the pillows in use:
(Pictures are used here with permission from Posture Meets Design)
You can see how the pillows help maintain proper alignment of your spine wherever you are . The design is so neat that you can even use it as a home decor accent.
Check out this Posture Meets Design project to see more creative uses of the pillows in your daily life. Back their crowdfunding effort. Be one of the firsts to grab these versatile, beautifully designed ergonomic pillows to help improve your posture.
Our body is designed for movement.There is nothing better than having an active lifestyle.
But, when you do find yourself sitting down a lot for work, remember to take frequent breaks, vary your sitting patterns, try standing up whenever you can, do some restorative exercises after work, and use ergonomic pillows to help improve your posture.
Maintaining good posture is important to prevent short-term health problems like back, neck and shoulder pains. In the long-term, poor posture can lead to spinal degeneration, joint pain, and all sorts of health problems.
When your body is in its proper posture, your organs have more space to function properly and you put less tension on your bones and muscles.
Notice that when you’re hunching over the computer, your spine bends unnaturally and your lungs are constricted. Before long, you’ll get dizzy because your organs are not getting the optimal amount of oxygen, and your back and neck muscles are sore.
Do you find yourself sitting down a lot? Are you encountering these problems?
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