We work for long hours behind our desk, without realizing the effects it has on us. We do not have any awareness about what our body goes through when we are just sitting in one place, most of our day. By Subashini Suresh with inputs from Kousalya Nathan.
We all are aware of the ill effects of smoking and despite that people smoke. Same way, we are all aware of the important of exercise, yet most of us do not have any form of exercise in our lifestyle. In India, an average urban Indian works for 9 hours a day, 6 days a week.
What happens to your body when you sit for long hours?
- When you sit for long hours behind the desk, your bodily circulations are affected.
- Many people complain of swelling in their feet and face on Saturday mornings. This is caused due to water retention.
- Your energy is completely drained. All you want to do on Weekends/off days is to sleep it out. This is known as the Adrenaline Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), meaning, you are under physical and mental stress. If you are experiencing this, you need to see a physician immediately.
- Constant headache: You are in an air conditioned environment throughout the day- at work, while travelling and at home. This may lead to a constant headache which will not subside with any medication.
- Our generation of urban youth have forgotten what it is to be thirsty. We consume very less amount of water and this may lead to urinary tract infection which is the early signs of dehydration.
- Sleep Cycle: The sleep cycle in India has become very erratic. The average time a person goes to sleep in India is between 10PM-2AM. If you go to sleep anytime after 11PM, you lose out on natural sleep and this causes emotional disturbances. The amount of people taking sleeping pills in India is rising at an alarming level.
What to do when you are working for long hours?
Today’s work has become 24 hours. There’s always something that needs to be done and we tend to bring home our work. We have to consciously stop this and need to call it a day.
- We need to fix our biological clock: Without our knowledge we tend to spend a lot of our time on our mobiles. We need to make constant effort to put down our mobiles and make an effort to sleep early.
- Remind yourself to drink water: We have lost this practice of drinking water somewhere along the way. The top reasons for people not drinking water are:
- Do not feel thirsty
- Do not like the taste
- Forgot to drink water
To change this scenario water needs to be made interesting. One has to make an effort to drink 1 liter of water and another 1 liter of other drinks. You can opt for flavored water, i.e, add 3 mint leaves, squeeze a lemon and a bit of ginger to your water. This way, you are trying something new and it will be easy for you to remember to drink water.
The other one liter of drinks can be anything from buttermilk, tender coconut water, and seasonal fruit juices.
You will definitely see a positive change health wise and work wise if you drink your fluids properly. You can also download an app that reminds you to drink water. But, remember, apps are just a start up measure and is not a viable option for the long run. It is just to get you in habit of remembering to drink water.
- Take short walks: Make it a point to get up from your seat every two hours and take a three minute walk. If you haven’t gotten up from your seat for 5 hours, take a 5 minute walk. If 7 hours take a 7 minute walk and so on. This strategy has been implemented in many corporate companies and results have been excellent.
- Mind your posture: Another important thing you need to learn about sitting for long hours is how to maintain your posture. It is difficult to maintain the posture for long hours but try and consciously keep in mind how you are seated.
- Eyes in line with the system: Your eye level should be in line with your system. Sit straight and look straight, is your monitor in line with your eye? No? Adjust your chair or the table accordingly to make sure your neck posture is right. Remember, your neck is the weakest part of your body and is also the most important, if you do not take proper care, you are bound to have neck and spine problems later in life.
- How you sit: Get a nice push back chair and sit straight. If possible, take a pillow and rest it at the back to make sure you sit straight comfortably. Try practicing it and soon you will lose that hunch back!
A change in lifestyle among people is much needed at the moment. You need to make constant effort to make sure your physical and mental health does not take a toll due to your work hours.