Sitting for Prolonged Periods


We now live in a time where many of us are sitting for most of the day at work. What do we then do after we commute home in our car, bus, or train? The answer is probably sit for dinner, then sit and watch TV. With the workforce becoming increasingly more computerized and less manual labor, a new breed of couch potato-related problems have emerged.


The Facts:


Prolonged sitting (more than half the day) leads to increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Obesity
  • Some types of cancer

            Click here to find out more about these risks.


Sitting takes a toll on our musculoskeletal system:

  • Sitting shifts a person’s center of gravity to the middle of their chest rather than the hips, increasing stress on the neck and shoulder muscles. This can lead to nagging neck pain at the end of the day.
  • Another common complaint from prolonged sitters is low back and/or sciatic pain, a burning pain that travels down the back of the leg. A flexed sitting posture increases pressure on the discs in the lower back and also decreases blood supply to the nerves making them more irritable.


What can be done?

I get it…you need to sit at work. However, there are a few things you can do to decrease the bad effects of prolonged sitting. One thing I commonly suggest is to set a timer for 30 minutes on your Outlook calendar or use a kitchen timer. When it dings, get up and walk a little bit. It’s easy to get caught up in work and lose track of time, so the timer is a great method to remind your body to move and get some blood flowing. Another recommendation is to make your workstation inconvenient. Put that printer across the room. Move your calendar to the bookshelf. Get your phone off your desk. This will force you to get out of the chair. You could also do some stretching or exercise while watching TV instead of sitting on the couch. This will not only feel good, but can help to counteract some of the risks of prolonged sitting.