Sitting All Day: 5 Health Tips

When you are a student, your basic position is sitting. While you are working, you are either in class, studying, or doing some group work. If this wouldn’t be enough, you are probably sitting during your free time as well: while you have coffee, beer or dinner with your friends, or while you are doing all that “Netflixing”.

Study after study has shown that long periods of static sitting can have damaging long term effects on your health, from increasing the risk of diabetes to posture problems and back pain. But we have to sit all day anyway, right, so what to do? Some improvements, if you work in a super fancy office, can include a standing desk – some swear by it and some have promised never again, – a pillates ball instead of a chair, a desk with adjustable height, or a more ergonomic office chair. But we are only simple students, so these might not be available options.

If we might feel that we have some control over how often we sit in our free time, it’s seems that in school related work there are not many alternatives, and most of the times not great facilities. And let’s face it: as a student in the crowded city of Utrecht, sometimes you are just happy to have found any place where you can sit your butt and get some work done – be it the library, a cafe, or at your own table.

There is hope, though! Even if you have to sit all day to work, there are still some things that you can do to minimize long term health damages, that can actually also improve your productivity while you sit and work.

1. Put your screen at eye level

To avoid the neck and back pains that you might get from bending your head when you look at your laptop screen, the ideal would be to raise it to eye level. If you can’t get a proper laptop support, try to put some books under your laptop to make it higher.

2. Do regular breaks

You can organize your working time in chunks, and take regular breaks, which helps your productivity over a working day. On top of this, instead of checking Facebook and Instagram during your breaks, try to get up the chair and walk a little, do a little of discrete stretching and get those lungs really full of air several times while you are at it. You will be extra efficient when you go back to your spot!

3. Avoid crossing your legs

Although it can sometimes seem comfortable, especially if you’re a girl – and I plead guilty of oftentimes making this mistake, – crossing your legs can have long term effects in the balance of your spine and the muscles of your back and legs . If you don’t feel at ease when your legs are uncrossed, try to find a lower chair where your feet can stand firmly on the floor.

4. Keep your head aligned with your body

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It might be a little more difficult when you are bending over a book, but if you are working on your computer try to keep your head up and aligned with your back. One great tip to make sure that you are doing it correctly is to try to make a “double chin”, because this movement forces your spine to get straight.

5. Do a compensation workout

Did you know that when you sit too long the muscles of your butt can stretch over time, getting flaccid and forcing other muscles to compensate your body support? This is known as “dead butt syndrome”. To avoid this, you should try to work out those muscles to compensate! Here are 6 daily workouts to avoid the dead butt. If health is not motivation enough, think of the fine summer butt you’ll get!

Do you have any tips that help you get through a day of sitting? Share them in the comments!

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