The big problem with today’s digital world is that many of us spend our days sitting down at a desk in front of a screen. Most of us have never learned how to sit. We don’t think that we need to.
On average, we sit down over 9 hours a day. That’s more than we sleep
But with health studies linking sedentary behaviour to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even cancer, sitting could literally be killing us.
If you spend a long time working at a desk, there’s a good chance that you’re not sitting properly, even if you have an ergonomic chair. Sitting for any length of time stops your muscles from burning off fat, negatively affects your posture and slows blood flow, potentially slowing brain function.
You can address some of these dangers by standing up to take regular breaks, by having your monitor at eye height and sitting an arm’s length away from your keyboard, shoulders back, feet flat on the floor.
But even if you follow this advice, it’s no guarantee that you will be sitting properly. This is where modern technology and design can help.
Darma’s algorithms learn your sitting habits to give you practical posture advice
Own a smartphone? Then consider a $199 smart cushion. The Darma Cushion by Darma Inc is pitched as the world’s first “inactivity tracker” – a seat sensor that can monitor your posture and alert you to correct it. In fact, Darma (recently funded on Kickstarter) can also keep a digital eye on your heart rate and breathing, outputting your health data to a companion Android or iOS phone app.
Lumo’s wearable sensors offer similar electronic nagging. The Lumo Back straps around your lower back to measure your posture, gently vibrating to let you know when you’re not sitting or standing straight. It can also measure how many steps you take, how long you sit down, and even how you sleep. The Lumo Lift, meanwhile, tracks posture, steps, distance, and calories. It’s cheaper and smaller, compact enough to clip onto your clothing.
Standing desks are a solution worth trying, but they’re not for everyone
A more radical option is to avoid sitting altogether. The past few years have seen the emergence of affordable standing desks, which you can typically find for less than £500, and not-so-affordable treadmill desks that can cost anywhere from £1,500-£3,000.
Such is the popularity of the standing desk, IKEA is getting in on the act with a motorised Sit/Stand version of its Bekant desks. New Zealand company Refold has a different take on the concept, having developed a unique cardboard standing desk (100% recyclable) that can be folded away when not in use.
Standing desks take some getting used to – and they tend to be uncomfortable for the first few days of use. But by standing (and occasionally pacing), you work muscles that are inactive when you sit. You avoid slouching and it’s far easier to walk away from the screen when it’s time to take a break. Perhaps it’s time to give one a try?
Do you have any personal tips for healthy working to share? Let us know in the comments below…