4 Facts About the Harmful Effects of Sitting and How to Prevent Them

Excessive sitting has brought significant problems to our stamina. Read and save the tips from this article on tackling the harms of sitting!

Unrecognisable businesswoman working on laptop in office

The Effects of Sitting

Especially for people who do desk work, the harms of prolonged sitting are often discussed. The underlying idea is to raise awareness of the harmful effects of sitting and how to prevent them.

1. The Harms of Sitting are Real

In sitting, as in all things, too much is too much. The core of the problem is especially prolonged sitting, which often happens during the workday. Overall, an adult sits, lies, or stands still for over three-quarters of their waking hours.

Prolonged sitting strains our bodies in many different ways:

  • Neck and shoulder muscles tense and become stiff
  • Intervertebral discs, especially in the lower back, are strained
  • Knees may become stressed
  • Sciatica pain may develop

2. The Best Working Position is the Next Position​

You can’t avoid sitting, and completely forbidding it is not sensible. Instead, it’s good to follow the recommendation to change working positions every half hour. Sitting during work is okay—as long as you get up occasionally to stretch your legs. Work standing up from time to time, walk around, and do regular stretching exercises.

Changing your working position every half hour and regular, targeted exercise for the correct muscles and vertebrae keep the body balanced, alert, and flexible from sitting stress. When sitting, there is hardly any activity in the thigh muscles, so activating the leg muscles is extremely important. This improves circulation, boosts metabolism, evenly stresses the muscles, and keeps the musculoskeletal system flexible.

3. The Best Defense is Desk Exercise and Reducing Sitting

According to  recommendations, sitting should be reduced regularly. Just exercising in your free time is not enough to counteract the harms of sitting, which is why the body should be kept active during workdays through position changes and regular stretching. Desk breaks, preferably guided ones, are one of the most efficient ways.

The chart below shows a person’s energy levels in three different scenarios:

The red curve shows a person’s day when sitting still for long periods.

The black curve shows a day when a person exercises in the morning and then sits at a computer for the rest of the day.

The purple curve shows a scenario where the person takes short, regular breaks throughout the day. As can be seen in the last scenario, energy levels remain consistently high and much higher at the end of the day.

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4. Tackle the Consequences of Sitting and Brain Fog with Cuckoo

Prolonged sitting is undoubtedly linked to many harms: problems for the musculoskeletal system, heart and circulation, weight gain, and deterioration of sleep and metabolism. How can we support reducing sitting and standing still in working life?

Cuckoo is one solution to this problem: Cuckoo is a wellness app for workdays, featuring physiotherapist-designed movements for desk work to maintain energy levels. Thanks to its gamification features, Cuckoo motivates users to take breaks, and regular breaks can have significant positive ripple effects on work.

When a company uses Cuckoo, you can track your colleagues’ progress on a map, create activity challenges, form internal teams and competitions, and challenge friends to a few days’ contests. Cuckoo is used by over 200 Finnish companies and in 15 different countries.

Taking breaks from work is especially important for mental well-being. Momentary detachment from work refreshes thinking, reduces brain fog, and enhances cognitive abilities. The Cuckoo exercise app also offers mindfulness practices for those in need of mental exercise. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness has an effect on employees’ performance and job satisfaction.

Excessive sitting has brought significant problems to our stamina. It’s good to be aware of these so that they can be prevented. Read this article for tips on tackling the harms of sitting!

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