man sitting at white desk with laptop working from home

You’ve probably heard claims like:

“Working from home has similar adverse effects to smoking.”

Some sources even make such claims:

“Sitting is responsible for your neck and back pain.”

So, how accurate are these statements? Is working from home detrimental to our health? Let’s review.

Are Back And Neck Pain The Result Of Sitting?
Neck and back pain are common today, especially among office workers and other similar professionals.

The problem is, sitting in the same position for hours can strain our muscles, tighten them, and make them shorter. As a result, our posture can worsen (leading to rolled shoulders), and we can start experiencing tension in our muscles.

Back and neck pain can result from spinal pressure, too. When we sit with poor posture, we place undue stress on the spine and strain the disks - the shock absorbers, which prevent vertebrae from rubbing together. Depending on your posture, this can result in pain anywhere from the lower back to the neck.

At some point, too much spinal pressure can lead to a disc herniation, which results in sharp back pain, often accompanied by numbness.

So, How Bad Is Sitting For Our Joints And Posture?
It’s difficult to say because we are all different and come with unique habits. For instance, one person might work from home and sit for hours each day. But if they get up frequently and try to maintain good posture at all times, their risks of problems are minor.

In contrast, another person might work the same number of hours, but they might not get up for hours at a time. Couple that with poor sitting posture, and you can see how two identical situations can lead to different outcomes.

It’s essential to be mindful of your sitting posture and remain upright and with your shoulders back. Doing so will prevent your posture from slouching forward, which will help you look good and avoid aches down the road.

Is Working From Home Bad For Our Health As a Whole?
On the one hand, working from home is lovely. You’re in an environment you control, you can wear whatever you like, and you don’t have to spend time, money, and energy on commuting. But you probably hear claims like, “Sitting is so bad for your health!” So, it’s a bittersweet feeling because you enjoy yourself more, but you can help but feel unhealthy.

Researchers published a 16-year follow-up study back in 2015. The folks who did the study tracked over 5,000 people and noted their habits and health outcomes. The researchers found that sitting was only associated with higher mortality risk in those who did no exercise.

So, what does it mean? Well, if you exercise regularly, sitting probably won’t do you any harm.

We still recommend maintaining good posture while sitting and breaking up sedentary time with movement. For example, set a timer on your phone for every 30 minutes of work. Once it goes off, get up, walk around your room, perhaps do some stretching, drink a bit of water, and sit back down to work. That’s a fantastic way to increase your physical activity, boost your productivity, and stay hydrated. 

September 10, 2021 — Daniel Felstein

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