Humans did not evolve to sit. This seemingly natural body position is actually not natural at all. In the distant past, our caveman ancestors would squat down on the ground around the bonfire, never really touching the ground, but instead resting on their feet. Sitting appears to be a more recent invention; the earliest signs of seats are believed to be five thousand years old, but even then, this activity was considered as accidental, and not as something people would do for extended periods of time.

During the last few thousand years, sitting has become a more and more common activity that people perform for longer and longer periods of time. This is not good for our bodies, and many people experience chronic issues, often related to their backs, necks, and shoulders. In this article, we will consider how sitting too much impacts your body and posture.

How does excessive sitting impact our bones?

Excess sitting is one of the most common health problems in our society today. It can trigger both micro- and macro-tears in our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones over time. The result is bone thinning or even osteoporosis in some cases. Excess sitting is also causing harm to people’s physical and mental well-being. It not only affects our bones and posture, but also changes our metabolism rate, and has been linked with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other fatal diseases.

How much sitting is too much?

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) conducted a study in 2016 that has shown that the average amount of time spent sitting each day is 7 hours and 42 minutes. Other researchers have found that negative health effects start to arise when one sits for more than 4 hours a day, and that they worsen the more one sits past that point.

Furthermore, the AAOS has come up with a new guideline for sitting, which is to limit the amount of time that you sit to at least less than 10 hours per day. This is often particularly pertainable to people with desk jobs, who sit for about 7 hours at work, and then get home to watch television for another 3 or 4.

How to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting

With the rapidly growing use of SaaS platforms (Software as a Service) that are replacing desktop applications, there has been a rise in the use of computers while sitting at work. Many employees are spending more hours on their office chairs than they are on their feet. To combat this problem, companies have created standing desks to encourage active work.

Standing desks can help counteract the effects of long-term sitting by encouraging movement throughout all parts of the day. Getting up from one’s chair every 30 minutes or so for 5-10 minutes to get some blood moving also does wonders for the body. If you work from home, it could also be an option to actually lie down on your couch for an hour or so a day while working on your laptop. By doing this in the middle of your otherwise seat-dominated workday, you can help your “posture muscles” rest from holding your body up all day.

In addition to changing up your environment, it will help if you focus on good posture. According to a webinar the physiotherapist Daniel Dyrstad gave on his clinic’s website Fysioterapi i Sandnes in October, the correct posture will help counteract the detrimental effects of sitting too much. When sitting for long periods of time, the best posture is to keep your spine straight and avoid slouching. This is because slouching can lead to wrist, neck, and back pain.

Try sitting with a straight back on the floor with your legs stretched out or on a chair with an armrest or pillow between your elbow and shoulder. This will help you avoid the risk of pain in these areas.