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MAR 11, 2024

Desk Bound: The Hidden Health Costs of Office and Admin Jobs

Breaking down the reality of life at a desk and how it can impact your daily health and hydration needs.

Read time: 5 minutes

Here’s a fascinating bit of trivia for you. Did you know that the most common employment type in the US is office and admin based? Seriously, 13 out of 100 people work at a desk. And you know what that means? It means a lack of mobility.

Whether that’s because of an overbearing boss, an intense workload, or dedicated work ethic, many of us stay at our desks far longer than we should and the impact can be incredibly detrimental. Especially if you sit down all day, then sit in your car to commute home and spend the even sitting: the recipe for detrimental sedentary side-effects.

So let’s delve into the intricacies of our professional tasks, the impact of our work setting (whether that’s on site or remote) on our health, and the consequences of neglecting physical activity.

Ergonomic Nightmares: How Office Furniture Affects Your Health

One of the most overlooked aspects of our work environment is the office furniture we use daily. Improper office furniture has significantly impacts our health and wellbeing. Take chairs that lack proper ergonomic support, for example, they can lead to poor posture, resulting in back pain, neck strain, and, in extreme cases, chronic conditions. Similarly, desks that are too high or too low can contribute to wrist and shoulder problems, due to unnatural or irregular angles.

What’s more, the overall design of our workspaces can encourage prolonged periods of sitting, which can lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and premature death. Not to mention the increase of muscle degeneration, weight gain, and a decreased metabolic rate, affecting our body's ability to regulate sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.

Smart Hydration Solutions: The Case for a Superior Water Bottle

Another huge challenge (although one that you may not think about as much) is the intense focus that work often demands can lead us to neglect basic health needs, such as hydration. Ask yourself this, how often has hyperfocus and general work duties consumed so much of your attention that you forgot to drink water throughout the day? I'm assuming the answer is often and a lot. Dehydration is a nightmare, even in its mildest form, and can lead to headaches, fatigue, dry skin, and a plummet in cognitive function - which affects our productivity and mental clarity.

To combat this, we recommend keeping a water bottle at your desk. Not just any water bottle of course, but a hybrid water bottle that serves all your needs – fresh water, shakes, infusions, etc. In fact, having something as simple as a durable, well-built water bottle can help you maintain optimal hydration levels throughout the day. And improve your health, energy levels, and overall performance at work.

The Unique Health Challenges of Remote Working

And for those of you shrugging and saying “Well, I work remotely, so I’m fine”, remote working brings its own unique set of challenges that parallel those faced in traditional office environments. In fact, the transition from a structured office setting to the autonomy of working from home means some of the regular markers we use are non-existent.

How many times have you seen someone get up from their desk to get a coffee or head to the water cooler? Or even, from your peripheral vision, seeing someone take a sip? These all plant subtle seeds and instructions in your brain that you also need to drink or get up and move around.

And on top of that, the spaces we use for remote work often aren’t checked or approved by HR. Usually they’re makeshift areas in our houses. And while improvised options and setups can work for a while, prolonged use a lead to a host of musculoskeletal issues.

Tips and Tricks for a Healthier Desk Job

Recognizing these issues is only the first step. Taking proactive measures to remedy them is crucial. Here are actionable steps to mitigate the adverse effects of a desk-bound lifestyle:

Invest in Ergonomic Furniture

Select chairs and desks designed with ergonomics in mind. Look for options that support the natural curve of your spine and desks that can be adjusted to keep your computer at eye level, reducing strain on your neck and eyes.

Incorporate Regular Breaks

Make it a habit to take short breaks every hour. Use this time to stretch, walk around, or do some light exercises. This not only alleviates physical strain but can also boost your mental energy.

Exercise Regularly

Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Whether it's a morning jog, a midday yoga session, or an evening workout, find an activity that fits your schedule and interests.

Stay Hydrated

Keep a water bottle at your desk. Make it a goal to refill it a certain number of times throughout the day to ensure you're meeting your hydration needs.

Practice Good Posture

Be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Adjust your chair and computer as needed to maintain an ergonomic position. Consider using posture-correcting devices and supports if necessary.

Use Technology Wisely

Leverage apps and gadgets that remind you to move, hydrate, and take breaks. After all, technology, when used correctly, can be a powerful tool in promoting a healthier work lifestyle.

By acknowledging the impact of our work environment on our health and taking steps to reduce the negative effects, we can maintain our wellbeing even in the most demanding office settings.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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