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This Is Your Body in an Office Job vs. Your Body in a Physical Job

By Max Plenke

Centuries in the future, when our present-day selves are depicted as wax statues in museums, they’ll probably come with little wax desks and little wax monitors. Our spines will be curled forward like macaroni noodles, our torsos will be paunchy, and though it would be hard to depict in wax, our brains would be cloudy and glum. That’s because we’re a nation on its rear: According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, six of the seven most common well-paying jobs in the United States involve working in an office.

After the deluge of studies showing sitting’s ill effects, these health risks shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sitting all the time with crappy posture — slumped over, neck bent, feet not firmly planted, arms akimbo — can mess up a lot of things in your body. These problems go far beyond your ability to stand up straight: They hit your circulation, your brain and even your sex life.

So while working on your feet may seem grueling, working a sedentary desk job is slowly and quietly wearing down your body. Here are the effects from the top down.

Your brain needs oxygen to stay sharp and not turn into a cloudy mess of gray matter just floating listlessly in your skull. According to Murat Dalkilinç, a TED-Ed speaker and physical therapist based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, when you sit and slouch, your spine curves, cutting out space for your lungs to expand as you breathe.

When that happens, you aren’t taking big, full breaths, and that reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the blood in your extremities. When that happens, oxygen doesn’t go to your brain, which leads to difficulty concentrating — and here you probably thought it was laziness that made sitting bad for your thinking.


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