You may have heard about the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle on heart health, but did you know inactivity is also bad for your bone and joint health? If you work in an office and spend most of your weekdays sitting down, you may be at risk for problems such as repetitive motion injury, poor posture, and even bone loss. In fact, the American Osteopathic Association lists "limb problems" as a key consequence of a sedentary lifestyle.
Office Jobs Are Bad for (Bone) Business
Your bones thrive on periodic, activity-induced stress, and weight-bearing exercise is particularly beneficial. When you jog, lift weights, or climb stairs, your bones become stronger in response. Unfortunately, the opposite also is true. If you have an office job that keeps you inactive most of the day, the lack of stress may cause your bones to lose strength. The World Health Organization says a sedentary lifestyle even contributes to osteoporosis.
Don't Take a Seat
Sitting at a desk all day, typing, and peering at a computer screen also have negative effects on joint health. Holding your arms and hands in the same position all day may lead to repetitive motion injuries, and slouching due to poor posture puts excessive strain on your vertebrae and the spinal nerves. If your office chair isn't adjusted for your height, it may negatively impact your hip and knee joints.
3 Tips to Overcome the Issue
Luckily, you can take many simple steps to keep your bones and joints in great condition, even if you work in an office environment that requires you to sit for long periods. Try these tactics to reduce the impact of a sedentary work life on your musculoskeletal system:
- Stand up for five minutes out of every hour. Standing up regularly is the simplest tactic to combat the health effects of sitting. Walk around the office, or even better, up and down some stairs. These simple activities will work the kinks out of your skeleton and stimulate your bone tissue.
- Exercise regularly. Beyond standing up every hour, you should engage in moderately vigorous exercise for 150 minutes a week (that works out to about 20 minutes a day), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you are overweight or have any health conditions or concerns, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. In general, though, exercise such as walking, cycling, or weight training will help you maintain bone health and muscle tone, even if your job requires you to sit all day.
- Create an ergonomic work station. You can consult the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's "Computer Workstations eTool" for a complete guide to adjusting your chair, keyboard, and monitor into the best positions to maintain your health. If possible, use a standing desk for some or all of the workday.
Don't let a desk job have a negative effect on your bone and joint health. Practice good ergonomics, and get some exercise several times a week. Your body will thank you for it.