Health Effects of Sitting at a Desk

Health Effects of Sitting at a Desk

Most people have a job in which they are sitting at a desk all day.  But did you know sitting all day in the same position can create health problems?  From sore back and neck muscles to high blood pressure, this blog aims to look at what this could be doing to your health and what you can do about it.


 Health conditions in can cause:

According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting all day, whether it be watching tv, in a car or sitting at work can cause a “cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.  There also is nearly a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.”  Other issues it may cause include foggy brain, over-productive pancreas, colon cancer and back pain


Why do I get so much back and neck pain from sitting too much at my desk?

Sitting in the same position tells the muscles to shorten (or tighten) and stay in that fixed position.  When you are sitting, your body is in the fetal position but sitting upright, not on the floor on your side.  But it is the same position.  Your ilioposoas shortens and stays in that position, flexing the hips, with a slight lordosis in the low back.  If not sitting up straight (which most people do if they are at a desk all day), the entire back is in a curved posture, with the erector spinae muscles (muscles that are on each side of the vertebrae spanning the entire back from neck to low back), are elongated but held tight.  This can cause trigger points and tightly wound up fascia throughout the entire back.  The position of the neck is hyperextended, because of the righting reflex, which is where we lift our head in order to see in front of us.  If our neck was in line with our spine, we would be looking at the floor, so we use this reflex to be able to see in front of us.  This causes strain in the cervical spine (neck), with a great amount of pressure in our suboccipital muscles, which are the deep, tiny muscles that are at the base of our skull.  Many headaches come from trigger points and tightness in these muscles.


What you can do:

-Get a standing desk

-Set alarms to take frequent breaks throughout the day to get up, stretch and move around.

 -Alternate between sitting and standing.  They even make standing desks that you can transition to that have an option to alternate between sitting and standing.

 -Take walks.  You can do this at work with a colleague in between meetings as well.

-Try some light exercise before and after work, even if it is just at your place of work.

-Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

-Organize your desk area so that you have to get up to copy a piece of paper, retrieve files, etc.

-Use an exercise ball for a chair.

 -Stretch and do yoga.


It is all about movement.  The more you move, the healthier you will be and feel. So take some of these tips and apply them today to live a happier, healthier lifestyle at work and at home.