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Health Risks of Sitting - Cubicle Issues and Solutions


WebMD Feature from "Marie Claire" Magazine

By Ashley Ross
Marie Claire magazine logo
Dry eyes? Weight gain? You might not realize what being parked at a desk is going to your body. Here, cubicle-caused issues and their surprisingly easy fixes.
 

DIABETES RISK

Stressful job environments can raise women's risk of heart attack by 88 percent, but those who sit all day also have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the University of Leicester Departments of Health Sciences and Cardiovascular Sciences.

Prevention: To keep your blood pumping, take a quick break once an hour to walk to the elevator or watercooler.

Solution: A study in England tested sedentary workers' caloric burn by placing small pedal machines under their desks for four weeks, and found using the machine for about 23 minutes a day helped. Try the Aerobic Pedal Exerciser, sold on amazon.com.

MISALIGNED HIPS

A female's wider hip sockets put more pressure on hips, knees, and the spine, which can lead to weakness, tendinitis, and more.

Prevention: Adjust your chair's settings so that the angle between your back and legs is 90 degrees or less, allowing better rotation for your hip flexors.

Solution: Yoga stretches, like the lizard (a low lunge with your back leg straight and forearms on the ground), can release tension in your hips and hamstrings and open the spine, according to Tara Stiles' book Yoga Cures.

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

Caused by a pinched median nerve in the wrist, CTS can be three times more common in women's smaller wrists than in men's, says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Prevention: A study by the Biodynamics Lab at Ohio State University compared females using ergonomic keyboards with those using standard ones. Subjects who typed slower on an angled keyboard with a split down the middle found it helped alleviate awkward wrist and forearm posture. A good option is the Adjustable Split Keyboard from relaxtheback.com.

Solution: Wear a prescribed brace at work, giving yourself a 15-minute break every hour. And sleep in it at night, says Dr. John T. Knight, director of the Hand and Wrist Institute at DISC Sports and Spine Center. Still sore? Icing and minor stretches, like rolling the wrist, help treat discomfort at the end of the day.

WEIGHT GAIN

Sixty-one percent of Americans snack at their desks, which adds up to plenty of extra calories.

Prevention: Preparation is key, according to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokeswoman Angela Meadow, who says a balanced lunch will help that 3 p.m. blood-sugar dive. Good options are broth-based soups with a side salad and fruit or a Healthy Choice frozen meal with added green vegetables.

Solution: It takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize it's full, so if you feel hungry, get up and move around, drink water, or chew sugar-free gum to see if it goes away. To keep blood sugar stable, stock up on healthy snacks, like nuts and yogurt.

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