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Curse of the Office Chair- How Sedentary Work Life is Impacting Your Health

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Curse of the Office Chair- How Sedentary Work Life is Impacting Your Health

For those who spend one-third of your precious 24-hour day in an office, it can be hard not to wonder about the effects of sitting, office equipment and sometimes even boredom on our health.

Adults aged 18 to 64 years old are recommended to engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, like jogging or running daily. Both the CDC and World Health Organization suggest two or more days a week for muscle-strengthening activities in addition to aerobic physical activity. Humans are built for upright living. When standing, the heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively, as well as a more efficient bowel function. Regular physical activity can increase energy levels, improve endurance and maintain bone strength (Better Health Channel, 2012).

On average, office workers will spend 4 to 9 hours of their work day sitting down. Some studies have equated those hours to around 2 months of sitting per year. Sitting for long periods of time can cause those immobile muscles to gradually lose their ability to metabolize fats and sugar efficiently which could cause high cholesterol and lead to a risk of diabetes (Harding, 2010). It has also been found that vital muscles such as legs, glutes, hips and back are also largely affected by these sedentary lifestyles. Many of these are stabilizing muscle groups that keep our bodies strong and mobile. Keeping them active is key to preventing aches, pains and premature deterioration.

Sedentary work can also take a toll on our mental health with the added risk of anxiety and depression. Though the link between the two are yet to be as solid as physical risks, many experts believe that the lack of activity keeps the brain from the positive effects of physical activity. So get up and move!

In order to keep our bodies and minds healthy, moving and prevent chronic diseases, we can apply office ergonomics to our work stations as well as daily tips for exercise while in the office.



According to Mayo Clinic, these are the following best office space practices:


  • Should support spinal curves

  • Adjust so that feet are flat on the floor or on a foot rest

  • Thighs parallel to the floor

  • Adjust armrests so that that your arms rest gently on them with relaxed shoulders


Key Objects

  • Objects such as phones, staplers, printed materials, pens, etc. should be within reach, close to your body to avoid overreaching.

  • Stand to reach items that cannot be comfortably reached while sitting


Keyboard and mouse

  • Place mouse within reach and on the same surface as your keyboard

  • Keep wrist straight while using mouse, upper arms close to your body

  • Use keyboard shortcuts to minimize extended mouse use

  • Adjust the sensitivity of the mouse for light touch

  • Alternate hands


  • Place on speaker or use headset to avoid cradling and assist in multi-task functions



  • Allow enough clearance underneath for knees, thighs and feet

  • Use a wrist rest or pad the edges of hard desks



  • Place the monitor directly in front of you, arm’s length away

  • The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level

  • Monitor should be directly behind your keyboard

  • If you wear bifocals, lower monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches

  • Place the monitor so that the brightest light source is to the side


Now that your work space is ergonomically comfortable, consider these tips on staying active in the workplace:


Integrate more activity into your day.

  • Walk or cycle to work when weather allows

  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Park further away from the door and walk

Try some ways to be active at work

  • Walk over to colleagues for discussion instead of emailing

  • Take lunch breaks away from your desk and enjoy a short walk outside if you can

  • Organize walking meetings as alternative to sitting in a conference room

  • Stand up while reading emails or reports

  • Walk around your office during phone calls


Most importantly, be safe in your activity and avoid doing too much, too soon or pushing yourself beyond your own physical limits. Keeping your body healthy is a marathon, not a sprint. To lift the office chair curse, move!


Occupational Health with Campbell County Health Wright Clinic can assist with the development of health policies, functional job descriptions, health education and many other services. To learn more and for more healthy workplace tips, visit our website or check out our Facebook page.



Better Health Channel. (2012). The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 7). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Harding, A. (2010, June 22). Is your desk job bad for your health? -

Laskowski M.D., E. (n.d.). How much exercise do you really need? Mayo Clinic.

Sitting and standing : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.).

World Health Organization. (2020). Physical activity.; World Health Organization: WHO.

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health