by Sam Doctorian, MS, ATC

Sedentary jobs (jobs that require sitting) make up more than 80% of the United States workforce. Add in active sitting jobs like machine operators and truck drivers, and you have almost nine out of ten people sitting for 8-10 hours a day. Prolonged sitting can lead to complications in a person’s health and well-being. But what if I told you that there are ways to not only counter these health risks due to the sitting phenomenon, but also to prevent them all together?!

Please begin by STANDING UP as you read the rest of this newsletter.

Sedentary Inactivity

Regardless of what type of sitting you do for your job, there can be health risks involved with it. Here are a few major risks to be aware of:

Muscle deconditioning/fatigue: For someone who works at a desk all day, sitting prevents the use and contraction of muscles, leading to atrophy and weakness. Muscular deconditioning and fatigue also occurs in someone who does a bit more active job like driving a forklift or other type of vehicle operation. Due to the repetitive nature of these job tasks, certain muscles also don’t get used and become deconditioned while the ones that are overused become fatigued (like neck muscles from turning so frequently). These can both lead to strains and sprains!

Cardiovascular disease: Extended sitting can lead to diabetes, weight gain, and high/low blood pressure which in turn can cause cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes. This is because prolonged sitting can lead to deconditioning of the body. This can reduce fat utilization and increase the risk of plaque buildup. It also increases blood pooling and reduces oxygen availability resulting in risk of blood clot formation. This does not exclude those who are actively sitting!

Arthritis and Osteoporosis: A sedentary lifestyle or job not only increases obesity and cardiovascular disease risks, but can contribute to arthritis and osteoporosis. The limited activity weakens bones leading to osteoporosis while excess weight in addition to extensive joint strain can lead to early arthritis.

Stand Up To Sitting

We spend more than half of our lives doing sedentary activity. That’s about 12 hours a day we spend just sitting! Here are some measures we can take during and outside of work to prevent some of the health risks mentioned:

  • Schedule a visit with your doctor for a yearly checkup. Not only will a doctor evaluate you, but you’ll also have a better understanding of your health with a blood test!
  • Perform a microstretch every 30 minutes to stand up, stretch, or walk.
  • Exercise outside of work (or utilize the gym you have at your worksite). You only need 60-75 minutes of vigorous physical activity to counter some of the health risks listed in the previous section (or 150-300 minutes of moderate activity for the same outcomes).
  • Use a stand up desk if you are able to access one. This can help you balance the amount of time you sit and stand while at work. If you can’t get one, use a yoga ball to replace your chair!
  • Healthy eating is one of the best and most proactive tools we have. It’s a great countermeasure for heart health when we do sit for long periods of time. Check out this week’s #CookingwithWorkRight recipe for inspiration!

Sam Doctorian, MS, ATC || Sam is a Certified Athletic Trainer with 3 years of experience in the industrial setting managing musculoskeletal injuries. He received his Master’s in Athletic Training degree from Azusa Pacific University. He enjoys playing all kinds of sports. He even has a “coach bag” with all different kinds of sports equipment in his car so that he’s always ready to play.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!