SITTING for prolonged periods of time has negative effects on health, with a 14-year study conducted by the American Cancer Society concluding that: “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “… And your body also has a right over you” which is an admonition many of us tend to forget. Staying fit is an obligation on Muslims despite our busy lives and workloads, as our bodies are a trust or amaanah for which we will be called to account on the Day of Judgment. Here are some tips to ensure your work doesn’t sap the life out of you or lead to problems with your vision and back.
Time for a raise (for your computer screen)
If your screen is too low, your head points down, causing neck and back aches. On the other hand, high displays contribute to dry eye syndrome. The key is to keep the screen lower by 10 degrees, not too high or too low. Dr. Jim Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University, says the top of your the screen should be level with your eyes, which means the ideal position for the screen is about 10 degrees below eye-level.
Don’t get too drawn in
Most people sitting at a computer get drawn into the screen, which means they crane their necks forward. This imbalance puts strain on the neck and spine. It’s like holding a bowling ball with one hand, says Dr. James Bowman, of Portland, Ore.-based Solutions Chiropractic. If your arm is vertical underneath, it puts less strain on the muscles, but lean that ball forward and your muscles have to compensate to keep it aloft. Sitting at a desk, that bowling ball is actually our head, so Bowman recommends chin retractions, or making a double chin, to keep the neck and spine lined up underneath which is the most effective single exercise you can do for the upper back and neck.
Stand up on your own two feet
The latest workstation trend is a standing desk or, for the more moderate, a sit-stand workstation. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, say that sit-stand workstations have helped workers replace 25 percent of their sitting time with standing up, which can increase their sense of well being and decreased their fatigue and appetite.
Many offices globally are starting to use treadmill desks, which can help workers burn 100 calories more per hour over sitting, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers in Canada discovered that accumulative effects of short bursts of activity, from climbing a set of stairs to walking around the office, bolster overall cardiovascular fitness.
In the study, a team from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, recruited a group of healthy but sedentary and overweight adults, equipping them with accelerometers to measure their movements for up to a week. The researchers evaluated fitness levels based on each person’s VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen a person can take in during exercise.
Intensity was key, with a cumulative 30-minute increase in moderate physical activity offering “significant” long-term health benefits, stated the researchers.
“It’s encouraging to know that if we just increase our incidental activity slightly – a little bit more work around the house, or walking down the hall to speak with a coworker as opposed to sending an email – we can really benefit our health in the long-term,” said Ashlee McGuire, the study’s lead researcher in a statement. “Best of all, these activities don’t take up a lot of time, they’re not difficult to do, and you don’t have to go to a gym.”
This study is not the first to find benefits from fidgeting. A study in 2008 found that leaner people tended to fidget more, including standing up and moving around, than heavier people, burning around an additional 300 calories a day.