The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime and about 89,999 of those are spent with our bottoms glued to a swivel chair if you work in an office.
Ok, so maybe we made that last statistic up, but for the majority of those of us who work at a desk for a living, that’s still a lot of time spent sat down in front of a computer, and it’s affecting our health in all sorts of ways.
It’s A Bugs Life
According to recent studies, the average work desk plays host to more than 10 million germs. Keyboards are notorious breeding grounds and have been found to contain more bacteria than a toilet seat, but it was the humble electronic ID badge that came out as the dirtiest workplace item with the most common bacteria being the gram-positive cocci found in pneumonia. (It’s enough to makes us want to pull a sickie).
Workwear: Cowshed Cow Slip Antibacterial Hand Gel, £8
“Fundamentally, sitting at a desk is not bad for us. However, sitting at a desk all day, every day over a lifetime, is killing us,” warns Postural Alignment therapist, Eleanor Burt.
“The problem is not with sitting itself, but the length of time modern Western society spends staying still in one position. The human body is designed (through millions of years of evolution) to be maintained through constant, gentle, varied use. Because many of us do the same thing day in, day out, our muscles are not challenged and we are chronically weak.”
So what exactly does sitting hunched over a desk do to our muscles? “Muscles hold our joints and bones in position so if they’re not doing their job properly, the joints and bones will slip out of position and this puts unnatural pressure through our entire body, causing uneven wear and tear and, therefore, symptoms of pain,” says Eleanor, who adds that our digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems are also all affected by staying still.
“The flow of things (food, breath or blood) is affected when we are stagnant and our brain function and cognitive ability is hugely impaired. For example, headaches are often the result of our heads being so far forward from where they should be,” she added. So far so bad.
The solution? (Apart from giving it all up to raise orphaned dolphins in the Bahamas). MOVE. “Fidget, sit on a different hip to normal, cross your legs the other way, take the stairs and get away from your desk as often as possible,” says Eleanor.
Did you know that your desk could also be affecting your shut-eye at night? (And we don’t mean agonising over that powerpoint presentation).
The blue light emitted from our screens (which tend to be bigger than those at home) have been shown to negatively affect our sleep – throwing our biological clocks and circadian rhythms out of whack, especially after sundown. Plus, as light suppresses melatonin – that blissful hormone that our bodies produce to help take us to the land of nod, the harsh lighting found in many offices isn’t exactly conducive to that illusive 8 hours.
The upshot? We’re getting less zzz’s than we should, with a Harvard Study finding a possible connection to diabetes and possible obesity amongst night shift workers.
We may not be able to restrict our screen time at work but we can avoid it at home (sorry, [link url=”https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/topic/netflix”]Netflix[/link]), especially just before bed. Always set your phone to ‘night shift mode’ (it gives off warmer, less blue light) and create a totally dark sleep environment at home.