The last twenty years of my life have been what you might call desk-based in some way or another. I’ve been the student sitting cross-legged on the floor scribbling in to a notebook, the coffee shop sitter hunched over a laptop all day draining the free wifi, or the office worker perpetually propping my head up with one hand while using a mouse with the other. I’ve been blogging for almost two years now as well, which means I’ve also spent a lot of my spare time slouching against some pillows in bed with a laptop overheating on my legs (Netflix on in the background and a cup of something highly caffeinated next to me – I know I’m not alone here).
Thanks to this, I now have bad posture.
I know I do because I see it every day in the mirror, have started getting lower back pain, and I notice myself sinking quickly in to a hunched position whenever I’m facing a computer screen. I even once needed physio on my neck because of it. For a while I was considering buying one of these to help correct it, not to mention enrolling in some very expensive pilates lessons.
When I set up a desk at home to help me be more productive and stop me laying on the bed all day when blogging, I decided to use a dining chair to sit on. I chose it because I liked the way it looked, and it was comfortable. Never mind the fact that I need to sit on two extra cushions as well for it to be high enough for me to reach the keyboard. It looked good and that was all that mattered.
I was, of course, very wrong.
There are some very good reasons why we should pay attention to how we are sitting. Particularly when we tend to spend so long doing it. There have been lots of studies in to how poor posture affects our health and lifestyle, and it has more serious implications than just looking bad.
These are things you can’t see happening to yourself when you are using the wrong office chair, but which we all need to be aware of.
It affects your mood
When we slouch, we experience more negative emotions than we would if we sat upright. This includes sadness, tiredness, anxiety and fear. These emotions will carry with you into other aspects of your life such as your relationships. Not only this but you are seen by others as being in a negative mood from the way you are sitting.
It increases stress
When we sit hunched over, our body compresses and breathing is more difficult. Taxing the body in this way leads to it having to work harder, affecting your nervous system. The disruption to your circulation from this also decreases the nutrients and oxygen flowing around your body, leading to it not functioning optimally.
It disrupts your digestive system
Sitting in a slouched position reduces the effectiveness of your digestive system, slowing down the movement of food and creating blockages. This in turn can lead to constipation and bloating.
It reduces productivity
This is of course a serious problem too, whether you work for yourself or for someone else. It stems from the negative moods stirred up by a bad sitting position. Simply put, we get less done if we don’t sit upright.
It turns out that my (quite literally) laid back approach to how I choose to sit while working is pretty prevalent. So many of us are sitting for hours every day in a manner so incongruous with our goals of being healthier and getting more done. Furniture At Work, who stock a huge range of office chairs, conducted a survey with 750 seasoned office workers. Of these, 16% described their office chair as simply ‘functional’, yet over 70% of those surveyed said their office chair gave them backache.
If you’re not sitting in a good chair that provides lumbar support, you could be doing yourself a lot of harm in the long term. If you work in an office, speak to your manager about your chair and see if you can get an assessment of your current workspace. It is, after all, in their best interests to have you be as happy, healthy and productive as possible. If you work for yourself, have a think about your seating arrangements. I, for one, will be investing in a decent office chair as soon as possible and paying attention to the way I sit at all times.
How do you sit at your computer? Do you have a decent chair, or have you experienced any health problems from your posture in the past?
This post is in collaboration with Furniture At Work. All words and opinions are my own.
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