Stand up for your health

Feel the Difference with Martin Thomas
Feel the Difference with Martin Thomas

I spend much of my career observing and correcting movement and posture in others to help them to stay or become pain free and to be able to move freely.

It may be surprising to hear then that today my back is aching after having sat in the office for many hours over the past few days struggling to meet deadlines for various work projects.

Have you heard the latest phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’ yet? It is targeted at those who are predominantly office bound and who are potentially creating future problems. My discomfort today has highlighted one of the drawbacks of sitting for long periods at a time. However, I’m in the fortunate position of being able to fix my own problem both quickly and easily. Thankfully, my work is generally physical so I know that this aching back is a very minor problem and I will be able to remedy it in minutes.

Having advised on posture a couple of weeks ago it is important to remember that good posture is important at all times.

However, when sitting for long periods, even with perfect posture and a properly set up workspace there will be repercussions. Did you know for instance that any pelvic imbalance can be exacerbated with prolonged sitting and that you can burn in the region of 27,000 calories less (over a year) than a person who does the same job but stands up to do it?

It even has an effect on how efficiently your body reduces your blood sugar levels after meals. There are many benefits to standing up to work compared to sitting down but these three facts have such a huge impact on our lives that they really stand out to me as being significantly important.

Perhaps a sedentary and predominantly seated job may conjure images of stereotypical professions so perhaps a comparison may help you to understand how you could possibly change your working practice for yourself or your staff to help alleviate immediate or future problems.

Lets’ look at sales: A travel agent may spend large amounts of the working day seated in front of a computer or looking through brochures for customers. However, a sales person in a large electrical store may be demonstrating different computers to customers. The latter task is normally done standing up and we readily accept that as normal. The sales person in the electrical store has significant advantages in terms of health benefits (as described above) over the person sitting at a desk, but we readily accept both scenarios as being normal because that is what we are used to seeing.

Perhaps it’s time to look again at our ‘ergonomically’ designed office spaces and ask ourselves the question “could this job be done standing up”

I usually spend around four hours each week (in short periods) sitting at a desk so Luckily for me the long term issues of sitting are hardly relevant.

When checking emails I usually stand and read them on my iPad. I could still make improvements on that by having the screen at eye level instead of on a counter top.

My deadlines have all been met now so I can get on with my active life again; that’s the one that I’m most comfortable with – literally.

Hopefully you will realise now that being active isn’t just about going for a run or walk but is more about not being inactive. I’m going to fix my back now – it’ll take me less than 2 minutes!

Don’t forget to do something to make you “Feel The Difference”