4 Health Tips for Working While Sitting Down

28th February 2020
It's not good to spend too many hours sitting down at work every day. But, it doesn't have to be damaging for your health either. Let's find out how you can limit the negative effects of sitting for long periods.

Nowadays, many people are working while sitting down. Whether they’re using a computer, meeting with clients, working in a laboratory… there are many jobs that force us to remain sedentary for longer than we may realize.

If we’re not careful, the negative effects of working while sitting down can accumulate as time goes by and eventually cause different pathologies to appear. Here are some tips to maintain your health, even if the chair is your main companion throughout the working day.

If you’re working while sitting down, sit upright

The first ‘rule’ is pretty obvious. If you must work sitting down for several hours, try to sit correctly. To achieve this, the ideal posture is as follows:

  • Keep your feet firmly on the ground, straight and open hip-width apart.
  • Knees in a 90-degree angle.
  • Glutes as far back on the seat as possible. You should support your body on the bones you can feel in your glutes when you sit down (ischial tuberosities) and not on the back of your glutes.
  • Straight back and relax your shoulders.
  • Elbows at a 90-degree angle when your forearms are resting on the desk or table.
  • Your chin should be approximately a fist apart from the base of your neck. If you’re looking at a screen, the top part should be in a straight line with your eyes.

To achieve all of this, it’s ideal to have a chair with adjustable height, and a table that’s tall enough to respect the 90-degree angle of the elbows, as well as a screen that you can lower or raise so that it’s at the appropriate height. Likewise, you must check constantly that you’re not arching your back or stretching the front part of your neck.

A woman suffering from back pain due to a poor posture when sitting down at work

Take advantage of the times you stand up

In any job, you’ll have resting moments. Try to take advantage of them to mobilize the parts of your body that are the most sedentary.

You can simply try looking to the sides, leaning your head towards both shoulders alternatively or looking up and down. Hold all of those postures for five seconds and you’ll notice relief for all of the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

Similarly, moving your arms in circles and intertwining your fingers while stretching your arms upwards will help to mobilize your shoulders and back.

It’s also advisable to perform a pelvic anteversion and retroversion. To do this, you must go from sitting on top of the ischial tuberosities to sitting on the back of your glutes. Alternate both postures for a couple of seconds to mobilize your pelvis and lumbar area.

In case you stand up to go to the bathroom, you can take advantage of the fact that no one will be watching to perform a set of squats. It’s also important that you make sure you have good posture every time you’re standing up. Try to spend some time on your feet, every couple of hours, if it’s possible.

Breathing exercises

Lastly, we must emphasize the importance of breathing in and out deeply to work on your breathing muscles. As a matter of fact, you can use the times in which you exhale to do hypopressive exercises and work on your pelvic floor muscles.

To perform these exercises, try to move your belly button inwards and upwards while contracting the pelvic floor muscles after you exhale. The movement is similar to when you try to stop yourself from peeing.

Maintain this posture for a few seconds, trying to breathe in with the upper part of your chest cavity without letting go of the abdominal contraction. Relax, breathe in deeply a couple of times and when you exhale, repeat the whole process again.

Use your free time

If you have to work sitting down, the last thing you want to do is sit in the car or public transport until you get home and then sit in front of the TV. Try to make the most of that time if you want to prevent pathologies related to blood circulation and to your back or posture in general.

Take a walk around your neighborhood before getting home; once you do get home, use the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have the time, go out for a run before giving in to the urge to lay on the couch.

If you can, get an elliptical or a treadmill that you can use while watching TV; another option is to perform squats, lunges, and stretches. Keep in mind that any exercise you perform will add up every day, even if it doesn’t seem relevant.

Woman doing squats in front of her tv to counteract the negative impact of sitting down at work

Take care of your diet, even if you’re working while sitting down

Lastly, it’s important to talk about nutrition. Sitting down to work for so many hours a day already has a negative impact on your health. If you add the wrong diet and a lack of water, everything will become much more complicated.

Try to eat a balanced diet. Be careful of fats and sugar and don’t eat too many carbs, since they turn into energy that you won’t end up using.

Make sure that you’re well-hydrated and eat foods that are rich in fiber to maintain proper intestinal transit. Finally, remember that smoking can worsen the damaging effects of sitting down at work.

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