How to counteract the negative effects of sitting

Posted by: Anne

We keep hearing ‘sitting is the new smoking’, and World Health Organisation recommends limiting the amount of time we spend sitting every day. Unfortunately many people have jobs in which sitting at a desk in inevitable! Every week I see several people who present with pain and injuries related to their desk work.

desk worker poor posture


A few steps you can take to try counteract the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods are:

1. Have a good ergonomic set up at your desk. Ask for an ergonomic assessment for advise on how to optimise your posture at work.

2. Take regular breaks to get up and move out of chair. Even if it is only a 30 second walk, allowing your body to have a small stretch out can make a big difference! Little and often can be best so take more breaks to get a glass of water, go toilet etc. This can stop you straining muscles and joints by staying static in one posture for a prolonged period.

3. Exercise on a regular basis! When you are going from sitting in car/dart to sitting at desk, back to car, and then sitting on couch at home before going to bed-you are not allowing your body to stretch out at any point! This also has numerous other negative health implications such as poor circulation, poor digestion, increased BMI and reduced metabolism, increased risk of heart condition, cancers and diabetes. WHO recommend spending 30 mins doing moderate intensity exercise x 3/week at least.

There are many low impact sports that can be great for mobility. Martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu can give you the mobility and exercise in one session.

Home rowing machines are an excellent way of ensuring that you stay mobile. You can slowly build up your fitness at your own pace. Choosing the right rowing machine can be difficult but there is plenty of good resources that offer advice such as

4. Try the following stretches after work-or even better during your work day if possible! They’ll only take 5-10mins! bookopener

A) Bookopener: lying on your side with knees bent, lift your hand up and stretch it behind you. Keep your hips steady and look at your hand moving back. Do x 10 each side.

cat stretch

B) cat stretch. On all fours, curl your back up looking in at your stomach and tucking your tailbone under. Then drop your back to arch it and look up as in picture. Do x 10.

FR pec stretch

C) pec stretch. Lying on a foam roller, let your arms drop out the side. You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders. If the stretch isn’t strong enough, you can hold light weights (1-2kg) in each hand to make it stronger. Hold x 30secs x 3.


If you have any questions, ring Anne at 086 358 2911.