A lot of sitting with little movement and poor ergonomics harms our musculoskeletal system, metabolism and cardiovascular system.
Musculoskeletal problems cause the most sick days and generate unnecessary costs.
DAK health report 2020
- 21.2% Musculoskeletal problems
- 17.1% Mental illness
- 14.5% Respiratory diseases
- 11.8% Injuries
Many other diseases can be linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
Wilmot, E. G.; et al. (2012): Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and metaanalysis. In: Diabetologia 55 (11), p.2895–2905.
Falck, Ryan S.; et al. (2017): What is the association between sedentary behaviour and cognitive function? A systematic review. In: British journal of sports medicine 51 (10), p. 800–811.
Schmid, Daniela; et al. (2014): Television viewing and time spent sedentary in relation to cancer risk: a meta-analysis. In: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 106 (7).
www.welt.de/gesundheit/article130891138/Sitzen-gefaehrdet-Ihre-Gesundheit.html, retrieved on 26.03.2021, 3pm
a.o. high blood pressure
a.o. diabetes type 2
a.o. colorectal cancer and lung cancer
Higher risk due to home office:
In 2020, sick days due to back problems increased by 7%.
Sick leave analysis of the DAK
Abandonment of healthy habits
Health science consideration
People spend most of the day sitting. While eating, watching TV on the couch, on the way to work or at work itself. Studies show that people spend 55 to 75 per cent of the day sitting, or about 9 to 12 hours. The health consequences can be serious and range from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal to mental illnesses. Office workers, who usually spend the working day sitting, are therefore on average in the upper range of this scale and are particularly at risk.
Sitting causes the organism to shut down, which reduces metabolic activity. As a result, organ functions, heart functions and the activity of the immune system can decrease. The first signs of this are tiredness and fatigue, which affects performance and concentration. The low metabolism caused by low muscle activity leads to fat deposits in the body which, in the long run, can cause cardiovascular diseases. According to experts, the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases is about 13% higher with excessive sitting. Even less than one hour of uninterrupted sitting can lead to an undersupply of cells. With longer periods of sitting, as is common in everyday office life, insulin resistance develops which, in the worst case, can lead to type 2 diabetes over a long period of time. According to studies, the risk of developing this disease is even 90% higher.
The musculoskeletal system also suffers. Basically, every structure in the body needs stimuli to build itself up, and at the same time body functions that are not used are broken down. An example are bones, if they are not exposed to a certain load or pressure, this has a negative effect on bone density. An unergonomic sitting position, which is usually caused by an unbalanced posture, has a particularly severe effect on the body, as it usually leads to under- and overloading of body regions at the same time. Due to the long periods of sitting and the tension created, the blood supply to the tissues is reduced and fewer nutrients reach them. Tension in the muscles reduces their efficiency; if this is the case, the supporting effect of the muscles is reduced, which puts more strain on joints and, for example, the spine. One-sided sitting can shorten ligaments and harden muscles, often resulting in neck, back and headaches. These effects are often exacerbated when working at a computer, which often creates a forward-leaning posture. This causes the head to pull the spine into an even greater curve, which puts strain on the intervertebral discs and over time can lead to a permanent bad posture known to most as a „hunchback“.
In addition to movement, hydration also has an impact on health. Fascia needs movement and water to keep the body in shape and give it its elasticity. If you don’t move enough or drink enough, the fasciae become matted, which leads to pain and reduces suppleness. In general, however, all structures in the body need water to function. The water and all nutrients enter the bloodstream via the intestines, from there into the arteries and then via the capillaries to the various parts of the body. Some parts of the body are supplied directly by the capillaries, other parts of the body such as the meniscus, intervertebral discs and cartilage are not supplied with blood but absorb the water and nutrients from the surrounding tissue through a sponge-like supply process. This sponge-like supply process is triggered by movement as old substances are pressed out by pressure and new substances are sucked in when the pressure is relieved.
Besides the physical complaints, regular and prolonged sitting often has an effect on the psychological well-being, if stressors are not relieved as usual. Experts believe that depression can be the result.
Research has shown that even extensive recreational sports cannot fully compensate for the risks of prolonged sitting.
What can you do to maintain your health?
An upright and balanced posture provides relief and thus better care for the tissues. The posture also has an influence on the inner posture, whoever sits upright takes up more space and thus has a positive and self-confident appearance. We advise you to stop sitting as often as possible. A study by Genevieve et al. shows that „even such minimal activities as standing instead of sitting have been shown to significantly increase total daily energy expenditure and resistance to fat gain“. Most important, however, is to increase the amount of time spent moving during work. Active breaks and balancing exercises are the best way to minimise health risks. They ensure that circulation and blood flow are stimulated and that important parts of the body are supplied with nutrients. Active breaks do not have to be long, but they should be regular. Current studies indicate that the risk of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases can be reduced by taking small but active breaks at intervals of 40-60 minutes.