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Get Up & Move: Avoid Office Aches and Pains

You might want to sit down for this news. But don’t. You see, numerous studies show that sitting for six hours or more a day is hazardous to your health. The human body was designed for upright movement. From a biological and evolutionary standpoint, sitting is an efficient resting mode while making us less visible to predators. Bottom line: Sleeping for eight hours is good, sitting for that long is bad.

How bad? A 2010 American Cancer Study of more than 120,000 people showed that women who reported sitting for more than 6 hours a day during their leisure time versus those who sat for less than 3 hours had an approximately 40% higher all-cause death rate, and men had an approximately 20% higher death rate.
And that’s leisure time.

What happens when you pile on the average five hours daily that 70 percent of office workers say they spend glued to their chairs and computer screens? Let’s just say you won’t be sitting pretty.

A survey by the American Osteopathic Association of 1,004 office workers 18 and over found that most Americans who work in an office experience physical pain with some frequency.

According to the Pain & Productivity in Today’s Workplace survey, the most common pain areas are:

Lower back (63%)
Neck (53%)
Shoulder (38%)
Wrist (33%)

The top four actions that contribute to pain are: 

Hunching over a desk (61%)
Sitting in an uncomfortable chair (58%)
Staring at a computer monitor (46%)
Using a computer mouse (38%)

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“Sitting at a desk all day can take a serious toll on your body, [and too often] workers don’t seek help to prevent or treat their pain until it reaches the point where it interferes with their ability to do their job,” said Dr. Rob Danoff, an AOA board-certified family physician and co-spokesperson for its “Break Through Your Pain” campaign. The effort provides tips, tools, and strategies to help office workers prevent and relieve pain.

Here are a few of the small adjustments that the AOA suggests can make a big difference in your physical wellness and help you avoid long-term problems.

  • Listen to Mom, Don’t Slouch (or hunch over your computer): Sit up straight, engaging your abdominal muscles and reducing strain on your back.
  • Flat Foot Rule: Put both feet flat on the floor, and the rest of your body will respond and improve your posture.
  • Avoid The Mouse Trap: As you type and move your mouse, make sure your elbows stay close to your body and your wrists are not bending too far forwards or backwards.
  • Get Up, Stand Up: Set an alert on your calendar or phone for every 30 minutes to remind you to take a stretch break.
  • Face Your Colleagues: Walk to a coworker’s desk to speak with her in person, instead of emailing or calling.

For additional information and to download online pain management tools visit www.osteopathic.org/pain.

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Lorie Parch
Lorie Parch has spent 25 years working as an editor and journalist at national consumer magazines and leading websites. This includes staff roles at AOL (UK), Yahoo!, Time, Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst, American Media and Gruner + Jahr.



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