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We’re often asked what people can do to avoid experiencing pain or stiffness while sitting on their laptops for longer periods of time. In reality, sitting for long periods of the time would never be advised by any medical specialist. Remaining stationary for a long amount of time can lead to a lack of circulation in the body, it can cause you to stiffen up and may cause you trouble sleeping at night. There’s a reason sitting has been called the next smoking!

Dangers of Sitting For Too Long

However, the dangers of sitting for long periods of time are not just limited to those factors. It can also slow your metabolism, which can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. According to statistics from the NHS, a large proportion of adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying down (not including time spent asleep), with this typically rising to ten hours or more in older adults. Excessive sitting can be linked to being overweight or obese, having type 2 diabetes, cancer and an early death.

The link to this was first discovered in a study on London bus drivers and conductors, with it concluding that the drivers were much more likely to suffer from heart attacks or cases of coronary heart disease, than conductors who were regularly active during the day. Most experts or medical specialists advise against being sat down for longer than 30 minutes, without an active walking break. Not only can this be beneficial in shaking out areas of the body that can become stiff, it can benefit your posture and your eyesight if you spend a large portion of the day sat at a computer or laptop.

Correcting Your Posture To Avoid Pain

There are certainly things that could be done to limit the amount of stiffness or impact to your posture that sitting on a laptop for a long period of time could give you, but whether you should be finding excuses to sit for a long time is questionable. Studies have also shown that being active for at least 30 minutes during the day can counteract some of the negative effects of sitting, but it’s advisable that you still try to increase your activity during the day. In order to minimise the impact on your posture, you should try to make sure that you’re maintaining good posture while at your computer. The temptation with a laptop is to look down at the screen if it’s sitting on a desk, or even worse to look down at the screen if it’s sitting on your lap.

First and foremost, if you do work at home we would strongly advise that you don’t do your work on the sofa or in bed due to the temptation to adopt poor posture. If you’re working at a desk, like you should be if you’re working at home or at the workplace, you should make sure that your shoulders are back, your neck is looking neutrally forward (i.e. not looking up or down at a screen) and your feet are flat on the floor. To get your laptop up to a higher level, you may have to sit it on some books or a box. If you find yourself struggling to maintain this kind of posture during the day you may need to check in with yourself every so often to make sure that you correct yourself, or take some measures to strengthen your upper back and core.

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Ways to Stay Active At Work

Even if you work in a job where you are confined to a desk for most of the day, there are some measures that you can take to increase your time walking around. Trying to make sure that you always stand on the train or the bus in the morning on your way to work, if you use those methods of commuting, is a great start. Choosing to take stairs at work, or walking up escalators, can also be enough to get your heart pumping first thing in the morning as well. Most activity watches nowadays also have ‘move’ alerts where they will let you know if you should be moving around a little more during the hour, but if you don’t have an activity watch you could try setting a reminder every 30 minutes to get up and have a small walk around. If you take phone calls during the day, you could use this opportunity to stand or walk to take the call – likewise if you tend to stay in contact with co-workers through email or calling across the office you could walk over instead. If your office allows them, you may also want to look into a standing desk. Lastly, try making sure that you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day – not only is this good for your body but you will also need to regularly get up to go to the bathroom.

If you’re experiencing pain that isn’t going away despite attempts to improve your posture or staying active regularly throughout the day, it may be time that you started looking into seeking treatment. You don’t have to live with back pain, and it’s important that you seek treatment even if your pain is intermittent, since that can often be a sign that a problem is lingering and may progress into something more severe in the future. To book your consultation call 0203 947 3222 or email info@themayfairclinic.com.