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How is my back working? | 5 min reading time

Discover why your Office Fitness level is so important, and how you can finally escape the vicious cycle of not doing enough physical activity at work

Written by Theresia Lechner
Office Fitness von 8sense

Physical activity is important. So important, in fact, that some time ago the World Health Organization published scientifically based recommendations for the minimum amount of physical activity we should be doing [1]. They recommend at least 150 minutes (e.g. 30 minutes per dayof moderate physical activity each week. This includes going for a brisk walk or cycling [1]. Only 30 minutes? Surely everyone can reach that easily? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

According to a study looking at the health of adults in Germany, around 80% of the population do not reach the recommended minimum of 2.5 hours of physical activity per week [2].

This lack of movement is making us ill, in terms of both our mental and physical well-being [3,4].

The WHO recommendations state a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity are required each day in order to avoid becoming ill

Are our sitting habits sending us to an early grave?

Those who sit for longer do, in fact, end up dying earlier. This is because sitting for a long time without moving around shortens our lifespan [5]. But that’s not all it does.

Sitting in a static, sedentary position for a long period of time also encourages the following:

  • Pain in your back, neck and shoulders [6,7,8]
  • The breakdown of structures in your brain, resulting in reduced mental performance [9,10,11]
  • The onset of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain forms of cancer [12]
  • poor metabolism with restricted regulation of fat [3,4]

As such, sitting around a lot doesn’t just mean a shorter lifespan, but also reduced productivity, endurance and metabolic activity, whilst simultaneously increasing your risk of suffering from serious diseases.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of insufficient physical activity in daily life are varied, and they affect all areas of the body

Insufficient physical activity opens the door to illness

That all sounds pretty negative. But there’s a positive side, too. You only need small doses of physical activity at regular intervals throughout the day to combat these negative effects.

Simply playing sports for an hour once a week after work isn’t enough [5].

Whilst it goes without saying that this exercise is very important and will have many positive effects on your health, it alone is not enough to fix the problems mentioned above [5]. For our bodies, the best thing is to ensure you do a little physical activity at regular intervals, and throughout the day rather than in an intensive burst just once a week [3].

Regular physical activity spread across the day is key to avoiding an early grave

The solution: work on your Office Fitness level

You spend some 8 hours a day sitting at your desk. It’s the most amount of time you spend doing anything in one go. So why not use this time to do yourself some good? Instead of staying in one position all day long without moving, you can easily transform your office into a kind of fitness studio to improve your Office Fitness level.

Sounds like a hassle which would be difficult to combine with the stresses of daily work? Not at all. You don’t need a lot of time, or sports gear, or even equipment. Office Fitness simply means doing regular physical activity in the office. Specifically, it means [1]:

  • spending at least 2 hours of the working day standing up or doing light physical activity (e.g. walking)
  • straightening your spine from time to time
  • carrying out small movements and exercises when seated and standing up
  • making sure you change position after 20 minutes at the latest
  • taking a break in between and simply leaning back
It’s quick and easy to keep on top of your Office Fitness level

So incorporating these “Office Fitness” tips into my day will improve my health?

You don’t need to push your body to its limits in order to benefit from physical activity.

Each step you take to improve your physical activity – however small – means a boost to your health [1].

We now know that even small but regular muscle contractions, as well as avoiding prolonged periods of sedentary sitting at the office, bring the following benefits [3,4,13,14,15,16]:

  • More effective fat burn and fat regulation
  • Improved mental performance
  • Faster recovery from stress at work and increased productivity
  • Longer lifespan
  • Blood pressure and blood glucose return to normal
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved supply of nutrients to your intervertebral discs
  • Better circulation in the structures in your back, such as the muscles and joints, thanks to your physical activity
Office Fitness will benefit your mind and body alike

Time to actually put your new knowledge into practice

Sounds good, right? It’s clearly worth your while revisiting your previous unhealthy habits and focussing on improving your Office Fitness level. But you don’t think you’ll manage it without regular reminders and concrete recommendations on what action to take?

No problem! As it happens, we at 8sense have made it our mission to help you improve your posture in the office as well as your Office Fitness level. We know how difficult it is to get rid of unhealthy habits for good – so we’ve developed a small but sophisticated device to help you on your way. The 8clip uses your individual data and an app to give you clear recommendations on what action to take to optimize your sitting habits. You can find out how it all works here.

Time to move

Regardless of whether or not you’re wearing the 8clip: it’s time to stop unhealthy habits where you spend too long sitting down – work on your Office Fitness level instead! Ideally, you should also integrate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity into your everyday life each day. And voilà! You’ll then be well equipped to combat a whole host of lifestyle diseases from today’s Western world.

Back up your knowledge

Did you know that there is also a condition called “e-thrombosis” or computer-related thrombosis? It particularly affects young men who spend long periods of time sitting in front of their computer without taking a break. Spending such long periods of time sitting without moving around disrupts the blood circulation in the legs. In the worst case, this may cause blood clots to form, resulting in leg vein thrombosis. That’s why experts recommend that you don’t spend longer than 2 hours at a time sitting down, and instead get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes every hour or perform leg exercises when seated (17).

Important to note:
This article contains general recommendations only and must not be used for self-diagnosing or self-treatment. It is not a replacement for visiting your GP.

[1] Buckley JP, Hedge A, Yates T, Copeland RJ, Loosemore M, Hamer M, et al.: The sedentary office: an expert statement on the growing case for change towards better health and productivity. Br J Sports Med. 2015; 49(21):1357–62.

[2] Krug S et al. (2013): Körperliche Aktivität. Ergebnisse der Studie zur Gesundheit Erwachsener in Deutschland (DEGS1)

[3]  Levine JA (2002): Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 16(4): 679–702

[4] Bey L, Hamilton MT (2003): Suppression of skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase activity during physical inactivity: a molecular reason to maintain daily low-intensity activity. Journal Physiol 551: 673–682

[5] Wilmot EG et al. (2012): Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and meta-analysis.

[6] Slater, D., Korakakis, V., O’Sullivan, P., Nolan, D., & O’Sullivan, K. (2019). “Sit Up Straight”: Time to Re-evaluate. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49(8), 562–564.

[7] Hallman DM, Gupta N, Mathiassen SE, Holtermann A.: Association between objectively measured sitting time and neck-shoulder pain among blue-collar workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health2015;88:1031-42. 10.1007/s00420-015-1031-4 

[8]Morris, A. S., Murphy, R. C., Shepherd, S. O., Healy, G. N., Edwardson, C. L., & Graves, L. E. F. (2019). A multi-component intervention to sit less and move more in a contact centre setting: a feasibility study. BMC Public Health, 19(1). 

[9] Siddarth Pet et al. (2018): Sedentary behavior associated with reduced medial temporal lobe thickness in middle-aged and older adults. https://doi.org/10.1371/ journal.pone.0195549

[10] KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse (Hrsg.) (2006): Weißbuch Prävention 2005/2006. Stress? Ursachen, Erklärungsmodelle und präventive Ansätze.  Springer Medizin, Heidelberg

[11] Burzynska AZ et al. (2014): Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness Are  Beneficial for White Matter in Low-Fit Older Adults. PLoS ONE 9(9): e107413

[12] Schmid D et al. (2014): Sedentary behavior increases the risk of certain cancers. Regensburg. Journal of national Cancer Institute.

[13] Booth JN et al. (2014): Association between objectively measure physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from UK cohort. Br J Sports Med 48(3): 265–270

[14] Munir, F., Houdmont, J., Clemes, S., Wilson, K., Kerr, R., & Addley, K. (2015). Work engagement and its association with occupational sitting time: results from the Stormont study. BMC public health, 15, 30.

[15] Morris, A. S., Murphy, R. C., Shepherd, S. O., Healy, G. N., Edwardson, C. L., & Graves, L. E. F. (2019). A multi-component intervention to sit less and move more in a contact centre setting: a feasibility study. BMC Public Health, 19(1).

[16] Frost, B.; Camarero-Espinosa, S.; Foster, E. (2019): Materials for the Spine: Anatomy, Problems, Solutions. In: materials(Basel). 12(2): 253. 

[17] Lippi, G., Mattiuzzi, C., & Favaloro, E. J. (2018): E-thrombosis: epidemiology, physiopathology and rationale for preventing computer-related thrombosis. Annals of Translational Medicine, 6(17), 344–344.