In today’s digital age, many of us spend countless hours hunched over our computers, unaware of the potential consequences of sitting on an unsuitable office chair. Surprisingly, statistics from reveal that we spend approximately 30% of our lives sitting, which translates to a staggering 7709 days! If we consider that a significant portion of this time is spent at work, where we remain seated for around eight hours a day, it becomes evident that having a good office chair is crucial. But what actually happens when we sit?

Dr Edward Laskowski from the Mayo Clinic warns that individuals who sit for more than eight hours a day without engaging in physical activity face a similar risk of mortality as those posed by obesity and smoking. So, what are the consequences of sitting on the wrong chair? Apart from negatively impacting our posture and causing fatigue, head, and neck pain, sitting on an unsuitable office chair can have severe implications for our overall health.

Let’s explore the five key consequences of sitting on the wrong chair:

  1. Poor blood circulation. Believe it or not, the chair you sit on can affect the blood flow throughout your body. Improperly adjusted chairs can hinder blood circulation to your shoulders, legs, back, and neck. While regular exercise can mitigate this risk to some extent, the hours spent in your chair still take a toll. Additionally, most of us engage in prolonged sitting outside of work, such as during driving or watching TV, further exacerbating the problem. Studies conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine reveal that men who spend more than 23 hours per week sitting and watching television face a 64% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who only watch TV for 11 hours. Furthermore, individuals who sit for extended periods face a 147% higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  2. Increased body fat and weight gain. Extended periods of sitting on the wrong chair lead to a lack of movement and physical activity. Therefore, investing in an ergonomic chair with Dynamic Sitting capability becomes crucial. Work pressures often result in having lunch at your desk and promptly returning to tasks. To reduce stress at work and maintain a healthy body and mind, it is essential to make time for movement and engage in office exercises and stretches for all parts of your body. Movement triggers the release of molecules like lipoprotein lipase, which helps process fats and sugars consumed. However, spending most of the day sitting reduces the release of these molecules, leading to weight gain. Research has shown that men who sit for extended periods each day tend to accumulate more weight around their abdomen, the most dangerous area for fat storage.
  3. Decreased concentration, increased fatigue, and poor brain health. Using an incorrect chair can hinder concentration and cause discomfort, leading to increased distraction and decreased productivity. Constantly searching for a comfortable posture and readjusting your position takes away valuable time and focus. Misalignment of the spine forces other muscles to compensate, resulting in increased fatigue and reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Prolonged static sitting slows down bodily functions, leading to fatigue. A properly adjusted chair that allows dynamic sitting at your workstation can alleviate fatigue and enhance productivity. Science Daily reports that sitting excessively is linked to changes in a critical section of the brain responsible for memory, potentially serving as a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults.
  4. Back, neck, and shoulder pain. Sitting on an inadequate office chair or one that is incorrectly adjusted can contribute to various posture-related problems. An immobile spine can lead to stiffness and pain, most commonly in the lower back, neck, shoulders, and hips. Poor sitting posture can compress spinal discs, resulting in premature degeneration and chronic pain. An office chair designed for dynamic sitting promotes movement, especially in the lower back and hips, reducing the incidence of back pain. Additionally, increased muscular movement improves blood circulation and alleviates fatigue. An improperly positioned chair, relative to your desk or working surface, can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Correct adjustment of both the office chair and desk is vital to prevent or reduce these discomforts.
  5. Digestive problems. Surprisingly, sitting for long periods can even impact your digestion. Proper digestion plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy body. If you remain sedentary in an ill-fitting chair for extended periods, the digestion process can slow down. The proper dissolution of food in the bloodstream is essential for it to reach the body’s cells. Therefore, it is crucial to invest in a chair that supports your body’s needs and promotes movement.

In conclusion, sitting on the wrong chair not only affects your performance but also your overall health and well-being. If you have a desk job, it is important to recognise when your chair needs replacement and invest in a high-quality chair to avoid the aforementioned problems. Prioritising ergonomics in your workspace and incorporating regular movement breaks can make a significant difference in maintaining your health and comfort throughout the day.

To speak to an Office Ergonomics Risk Facilitator contact us on 011 392 6803 or email [email protected]

Article first seen on Karo’s Knowledge Centre – click here for the full article.