Can office working affect your digestion?

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As we all know, giving our digestive system the best chance of functioning properly relies on a number of strategies, and I blog a lot about beyond food- whether that being counseling or getting a good night sleep.
But how much do we know about the way posture during the working day can influence our guts? Today’s post is a guest post from Sit-Stand.Com; as a freelancer, I was fascinated by the research they’ve done on working at a desk and how it might impact our digestion….


Is working at our desks a health risk?

Medical research shows that spending most of your day seated at a desk is bad for your health in general – and your digestive process in particular. When we’re glued to our laptop, we’re much less active which slows down our digestive system. Conversely, spending a good portion of your day in a standing position does the opposite: it helps increase the blood flow to your digestive organs, leading to a healthier, happier gut with reduced bloating and distension. There’s scientific evidence too- this study looked at how our posture impacts our digestion.

The body of scientific evidence to prove the benefits of the ‘sit less, move more’ approach is growing by the year, thanks in part to organisations such as the non-profit UK-based Active Working CIC which is raising the profile of simple measures such as spending more time on your feet during the working day with its annual Get Britain Standing campaign.

The average UK office worker sits for a shocking 10 hours each day (work, commute, leisure time combined), with almost 70% of sitting taking place at work and 73% of people literally only leaving their desk for toilet or tea breaks- we might be packing healthy recipes in our lunch boxes but eating them at our desks can hinder our efforts!

So if you’re a sedentary worker, it makes sense that changing your workplace habits can help improve your condition. That’s right: it’s time to get out of your seat and get more active throughout your working day. Your gut will thank you for it!

What can you do to help?

Sometimes, it’s not always possible to schedule frequent breaks to get up and move around regularly so we think one of the easiest ways to ensure ongoing movement is by using a sit-stand desk.

 

 

Our simple-to-use Yo-Yo Desk MINI costs around £200. It sits on top of an existing workstation, and is gas-lift height adjustable, making it simple and smooth to transition between sitting and standing throughout the working day. The fact it sits on top of your desk means it can be incorporated into your existing workplace set-up with minimum disruption to yourself and co-workers. It’s also sturdy and roomy meaning there is ample room for a laptop or PC keyboard and monitor, documents and even a tablet alongside with space left over for a glass of water or cup of green tea.

We know that this can often be a big adjustment (especially for those who have worked in offices all their lives) so we offer a free trial so you can road-test a standing desk for up to 30 days with the option of returning it if it doesn’t suit your working style.

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How to get more active in the workplace?

So, if you’re looking to improve your work routine, how should you start? Experts recommend regular swapping from sitting to standing at your desk throughout the day to achieve best results. It’s not realistic to spend your whole day standing. Instead, they advise standing after meals to aid digestion as it can even benefit out blood sugar (with regular standing also linked to reducing back problems, improved blood circulation, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of conditions including depression, stress, and hernia). Most people get into the habit of standing for phone calls and going through emails, while sitting for more detailed report writing, but it’s a question of finding what works best for you.

As part of the Active Working Campaign, we advocate getting into the sit-stand desk routine gradually: going from sedentary behaviors to full-on standing all day is a no-no for your joints and overall comfort. Using an anti-fatigue mat or a Steppie wobble board when standing to help ease the strain and encourage micro movements that will benefit your core strength, blood circulation and muscle definition.

Don’t believe either that going to the gym in your spare time means you can safely settle into your office chair for a full working day. The health risks of workplace inactivity apply to us all, triathletes, Parkrunners, yogis and all. “Being a physically active person outside the workplace does NOT make it OK to spend hours on end seated at work. The two are separate issues,” says Dr. Ben Gardner, senior lecturer, Dept of Psychology, King’s College London, who has studied public attitudes to the principles of active working.

Yoga can be amazing for gut health (read my yoga and your gut guide here)  but that doesn’t mean you can be inactive throughout your working day.

Not sure whether you’re ready to make the switch to a specialised Yo-Yo Desk just yet? There are many simple ways to convert sitting time to active standing time. For example:

  • Stand during phone calls
  • Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes
  • Use the stairs rather than the lift
  • Have standing or walking meetings
  • Eat your lunch away from your desk
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of phoning or emailing them
  • Stand at the back of the room during presentations

Maybe it’s time we in the UK followed the example of Scandinavia ( today in Nordic countries, 90% of office workers have a sit-stand desk) For the reasons listed above, researchers are urging us in UK to follow suit. Why not take matters into your own hands? And try out one of our sit-stand desks or incorporate some of our simple tips to improving your health while working in an office.

Disclaimer:This post is in collaboration with Sit-Stand.Com

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