This is the first part of a series centered around the theme of adopting healthier habits when working with computers. 1

Let's dive into the most important (and free) step you can take towards a healthier workday.

Too Much Sitting#

Computer workers tend to spend their workdays sitting. A sedentary lifestyle tends to negatively affect health and is associated with increased mortality 2.

Physical strain at work can lead to the development of musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck, shoulder, wrist and hand regions. 3. Additionally, results suggest that stress influences musculoskeletal symptoms too. 3

Computer users are the most likely to Self-Report Musculoskeletal Symptoms (SRMS) 4 especially around the neck, shoulder and lower back.5

Is Standing At Work Healthier?#

Not necessarily. If you are mostly standing at work, you may be at greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared to mostly sitting. Combining sitting and standing is likely to be beneficial 6. Interestingly, jobs that combine standing, sitting and walking seem to be more risky for women that for men7

I Work Out. Am I Still At Risk?#

Regular exercise is a must, but probably not enough. It appears that sitting for extended periods can be a risk for chronic disease even if you exercise regularly. 8 The adverse effects of prolonged sitting, cannot be offest by daily exercise alone 9.

Fixing The Sedentary Lifestyle#

Taking Breaks From Sitting#

The one most important thing you can do, is taking breaks from sedentary time 9. Taking more frequent breaks from sitting seems to be beneficially associated with metabolic risk variables 6

During your work day, make it a habit to regularly get up and move briefly. Having a higher number of breaks in sedentary time appears to be more beneficial 2.

How Often Should I Stand?#

A good sitting/standing ratio is perceived to be around 24:6 10. That is 24 minutes sitting, 6 standing. This approximates the standard ratio used by the Pomodoro technique (25:5) 10 and may be a good point of departure:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes. Start working on tasks.
  • Then, take a 5 minute break. Get up and move away from you desk. Try being lightly/moderately active. Walk around, stretch, maybe do a bit of light strength training. Repeat.

Practice "active sitting"#

Even when sitting, actively adjust your posture: Regular small movements might aid the prevention of Chronic Lower Back Pain. associated with sitting too still. 11

  1. This information is not designed to replace a physician. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  2. Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior There is “significant evidence on the adverse cardio-metabolic health consequences of sitting”. Additionally, “high levels of TV time were significantly associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality” Additionally, “high levels of TV time were significantly associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality”.

  3. Pubmed



  6. “combinations of sitting and standing are likely to have beneficial cardiovascular health benefits.”

  7. “While occupations that involved combinations of sitting, standing, and walking were associated with a decreased risk of heart disease among men, they were associated with an increased risk of heart disease among women.”

  8. Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk (link)

  9. Different sit:stand time ratios within a 30-minute cycle change perceptions related to musculoskeletal disorders

  10. Wikipedia page on Pomodoro Technique

  11. Carolin Bontrup, William R. Taylor, Michael Fliesser, Rosa Visscher, Tamara Green, Pia-Maria Wippert, Roland Zemp, Low back pain and its relationship with sitting behaviour among sedentary office workers Applied Ergonomics, Volume 81, 2019, 102894, ISSN 0003-6870