It’s bad news for us office workers. The jury’s in on the effects of sitting for extended periods of time (well, it’s been in for a while now). And the verdict isn’t good.

Turns out, to cut a long story short, that sitting down for hours at a time can be incredibly bad for our health. And considering that many adults in the UK spend more than 7 hours a day sitting, it seems like this is an issue that concerns a lot of us.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, it turns out that keeping active and exercising may be able to offset the negative effects of sitting. And there are lots of little things we can do throughout the day to reduce the impact of all that sitting and slouching.

But before we go any further, let’s deal with the basics: how to sit correctly. Here’s how the NHS says we should do it:

Adjust your chair: the ideal position is for your arms to make L-shapes, with your elbows tucked in to your sides. This means forearms level with the ground.

Foot position: rest your feet on the floor, and try to avoid crossing your legs.

Keep your screen at eye level: the ideal position, according to the NHS, is to have your screen about an arm’s distance in front of your face, with the top of the screen at eye level.        

So that’s how to sit. Now here are some quick fix, off-chair, techniques for reducing the effects of sitting through those 8-hour desk sessions.

Take regular breaks

Set a timer for every 30, 40, or 60 minutes, and when it goes off, get up! You don’t have to do much, and you don’t have to go far. Just spend a few minutes on your feet. Make a cup of tea, walk down the hall, go to the bathroom. As long as you’re moving, it’s fine.

Mix up your tasks

The motto here is, if you don’t need to do it sitting down, then try it standing up. Take a phone call on your feet, or try a walking meeting. And instead of typing out an email or your laptop or desktop computer, why not stand up and write it on your phone? Little adjustments like this can make a big difference.

Walk your lunch off

If you’ve got any spare time left after eating your lunch, head out for a quick stroll (don’t worry, it’s safe, despite what the old wives’ tales say).

Park further away from the office

If you drive to work, try taking the furthest parking space from the front door. That way you’ll be able to fit in a little extra walking time before and after work.

Consider investing in a standing desk

The best way to combat the effects of sitting all day is, simply, not to sit at all. If you’ve got the space, consider investing in a standing desk. You can see a list of recommended models here. Or, if you’re feeling handy, you can make one yourself. Or, for the slightly more adventurous, you can even try your hand at a treadmill desk.

Refill your cup

Why not kill two birds with one stone? Reduce your sitting time and keep hydrated. The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. This includes water, sugar-free drinks, tea, and coffee. For an 8-hour work day that works out at a glass an hour. So it makes a good excuse to get up from the desk at regular intervals.

Stretch

If you work in a confined or crowded space and don’t have much room to walk about in, stand up and stretch instead. A short stretching routine could feel great after a few hours of sitting at a desk. To get you started, here’s a great article demonstrating 10 office worker-friendly stretches.

Take the stairs

For anyone who works on an upper floor of a large office building, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if you’re on the tenth floor, you can always walk up three or four flights before taking the elevator the rest of the way.

Keep well at work

We hope you found some useful ideas in this post. And for more on office wellbeing, take a look at our post on Feng Shui In The Workplace.