Take a Seat

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time (8 hours or more) with a number of health concerns including obesity,  increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, thrombosis and an increased risk of diabetes.  However, unlike some other studies, analysis has found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderate physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting.

With many of us now working from home and at a computer for long periods of time it is important to make sure you have the right seated support and routine.

What is good seating practice?

1. Avoid extended periods of sitting.

Tip: Drinking water from a glass rather than a large bottle encourages more movement throughout your day as you get up periodically to refill your glass.

2. Make time to move at regular intervals.

Tip: Take a short walk before you sit down to work and try to remind yourself to take breaks every 30 minutes away from the desk.

3. Why not walk and talk.

Tip: If you are taking a call why not do it on your feet rather than at your desk.  Take the call outside and get some fresh air.

4. Choose a chair that is comfortable for your body type.

Tip: When you sit down try to sit as far back into the chair as possible to support your lower back.

5. The depth of the chair also makes a difference.

Tip: There should be a 2-3 finger gap between the back of the knee and the end of the seat of the chair.

6. Make sure your desk is set up correctly.

Tip: The desk height should be set just below your elbow and make sure your forearms are in-line with the desk.

7. Adjust your monitor.

Tip: Keep your monitor an arms length away and adjust it so that your eyes are parallel with the top of the screen.  A monitor stand can be useful to adjust the height and position.

8. Where to put your feet.

Tip: Your feet should be flat on the floor. If they are not, use a foot rest.  A foot rest also enables you to move, raise and flex your lower legs during the working day.

What is the best seat for you?

With so many different types of office and ergonomic chair on the market it can be difficult to find the right one for you.

Here are a few examples:

1. Computer/Office chair:

These standard office chairs are functional and cost effective. They often come with angle adjustment and gas lift to set the chair at your desired height. If possible, go for one with arm rests as well to aid posture.

2. Kneeling chair:

These chairs tilt the pelvis forward to encourage natural alignment of the spine and improve posture. Kneeling chairs can be great for those with disc and lower back issues due to the ergonomic seating position and reduced compression on the spine. Your core will be encouraged to engage as you sit, naturally improving strength and comfort.

3. Saddle seat:

These seats position the spine into a more natural curve, give increased mobility, engages your core and strengthens the back muscles.

4. Stability/Yoga ball:

Sitting on a yoga ball helps you to engage your core and actively work on maintaining a straight spine. The dynamic surface of a yoga ball also encourages subtle movements, which can enhance blood flow and flexibility. 

5. Sit-stand workstations:

Research has shown that users of sit-stand desks can reduce their sitting time by 100 minutes a day.  These height adjustable desks allow you to sit in a chair of your choice for part of the day and raise it to standing height to flex your muscles and get your blood moving. They don’t have any specific ergonomic functions but are a good option for those who want to keep active during their day and add movement. You can also get versions that adapt to treadmills and exercise bikes so that you can exercise whilst working!

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