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Did You Know That The Way You Sit Can Impact Your Health?

| Reviewed By Susan Jennifer

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world and the economy, prompting the adoption of changes not just on a personal level, but on a global level. The new norm of life requires one to stay inside and avoid coming in contact with people.

Majority of the offices are facilitating the option of work from home for its employees and there comes the ease of certain time flexibilities and perks, and along with it, some negative outcomes too. That is, unlike usual mornings where you wake up, take a shower, dress up and leave for office, your routine ends with having your breakfast and directly going to your office desk set up at home, preferably in your room.

Studies point out that, sitting for most of your day increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes [1] - and that is too real right now, considering that most of us are spending our days sitting away.

We are not telling you to avoid sitting (impossible) but do the easiest thing - sit correctly. Health experts say that sitting positions while working (for long hours) can have a significant impact on your overall health [2].

You can always improve the way you are sitting and avoid the effects of a lifetime of sitting. The single solution to this problem is - good posture. So today, we will find out whether you are sitting right on your chair.


How Does Sitting In Good Posture Impact Your Health?

"Sit straight, with your back erect," is something we have all heard from our teachers, parents, and everyone around you (if you prefer the sitting posture of a shrimp). Sitting with a straight back and shoulders will improve a person's physical health.

So what do you mean by sitting in a good posture? It means that that the key parts of your body (head, neck, torso, arms and legs) are correctly aligned and supported by the right amount of muscle tension [3]. And this is extremely beneficial for your back and your body because of the following reasons [4]:

  • Helps reduce wear and tear on the joints, musclesand ligaments.
  • Maintains balance while moving and exercising.
  • Help reduce strain on the body during movement and exercise.
  • Improves spine health.
  • Reduces the risk of muscle strain and overuse conditions.
  • Now that you know why it is important to have a good posture while sitting, let's read about the best sitting posture at a computer - as that is what we are all doing now.


What Is Correct Sitting Posture While Working From A Desk?

As experts point out, the best sitting position depends on a person's height, the chair they are using, and the activity they are doing while sitting, and we will be focusing on the best way to sit while you are working on your computer/laptop.

Working from home and schooling from home requires you to sit for extended periods at a desk, hence raising the need to take extra precautions to maintain a healthy posture and back [5].

Here are some tips that would help you to improve your sitting posture, take a look.

  • Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back and your buttocks should touch the back of the chair [6].
  • Keep your back against the chair and use a cushion if there are places where the back does not comfortably meet the chair, like around the lower back region [7].
  • Keep your screen ay eye level, and sit up straight and look at your laptop or computer without straining the neck [8].
  • Keep the feet flat or rest them on either the floor or a footrest under the table.
  • Maintain a small gap between the back of the knees and the chair.
  • Position your knees at the same height or slightly lower than the hips.
  • Place your ankles in front of the knees.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Keep the monitor at arm's length and no more than 2 inches [9].
  • Position the keyboard and mouse close together to avoid reaching and also that your wrists have room to rest while you type [10].
  • If you have one, use a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing.
  • You can also try an ergonomic chair, a yoga ball, or a knee chair [11].
  • Keep frequently used objects such as notepad, phone etc. within reach because constantly stretching to reach items you need, can strain muscles.
  • Use a handset if you spend a lot of time on the phone because bending your neck for long hours can cause stiff muscles, pain, and even ligament damage [12].
  • Most importantly, take regular breaks because sitting for long periods of time can reduce blood flow and cause muscle fatigue [13].

What Are The Sitting Positions You Should Avoid?

A person with poor posture can correct it with time and of course, commitment. Once you improve your sitting posture, make sure you maintain it and avoid going back to the old ways of poor sitting posture.

While there is a right way to sit, there are hundreds of wrong ways to sit as well. Anything that poses excess stress on a specific muscle can adversely impact a person's posture and back health. Consider the following steps to avoid wrecking your back [14].

  • Avoid crossing your knees or ankles because sitting with your legs crossed can reduce blood flow and cause muscle strain.
  • Do not sit slumping to one side with the spine bent.
  • Avoid sitting in one position for a long time.
  • Do not strain the neck for long periods while looking at a monitor, telephone screen, or document.
  • Do not keep your feet dangling or without proper support.
  • Avoid sitting in a position that does not fully support the back, especially the lower back.
  • DO NOT sit for an extended period without taking a break.
  • Studies point out that prolonged and the wrong way of sitting can lead to negative effects throughout the body, including increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke etc. [15][16].


Some Extra Tips To Improve Your Posture Game

The way you sit impacts and involves your muscles, tendons and ligaments that support your posture. Practising good sitting habits is one of the easiest ways to improve your back health. Take a look at some tips, that you can follow every day for a healthy posture and back [17].

  • Try not to stay in any one position for too long, change every hour.
  • Keep screens at eye or chest level when reading to reduce neck and upper back strain.
  • Sit up straight and look forward when reading mobile screens or monitors.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week and focus on stretching and strengthening.
  • Place lumbar support cushions on seats to reduce lower back strain.
  • Walk with a straight spine and try to avoid slumping.

On A Final Note…

We all like to spend too much time sitting in front of a television or a computer; either at home or work. The longer the periods that we spend by being a couch potato, the more detrimental it is to our health.

With a lack of movement, especially during this lockdown phase, it is crucial that you improve your health just by improving your posture. And trust me, adjusting your posture can have a positive impact on your health and avoid injuries, strains, and soreness.

Susan JenniferPhysiotherapist
Masters in Physiotherapy
Susan Jennifer
Read more about: sitting heart health posture
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