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3 Bad Office Habits Threatening Your Health

We’re an incredibly adaptive animal, ready and willing to accommodate new situations. However, cultural adaptations often come with detrimental effects on our health.

Biologically speaking, we’re not cut out for an office environment. It’s a sedentary, indoor lifestyle, with a lot of time spent sitting. Quite often, there’s stress involved, and it’s not unusual for nutrition and exercise to take a back seat as far as priorities are concerned.

There are lots of bad office habits that threaten our health, but in this article, we’re looking at three of the most destructive ones:

  1. Poor posture
  2. Lack of movement and breaks
  3. Dehydration

1. Poor seated posture

Poor posture has a detrimental impact on respiration and the spine, which in turn can affect digestion, muscles, and mood.


When we sit hunched over a desk or computer, hips, shoulders, and curved spine forming a cage around constricted organs, we’re partially blocking off our air supply.

  1. A slumped position can reduce oxygen intake by up to 30%. With a deficiency of oxygen in the blood, the heart has to pump faster to ensure that the body’s trillions of cells are Stress on the heart induces an overall stress response and an unhealthy level of cortisol production, which can lead to headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  2. A shortage of oxygen to the brain has a negative impact on cognition. Mood, alertness, concentration, and memory are all compromised.
  3. The body uses a lot of energy for digestion. Returning to a seated, hunched position immediately after eating, or eating at your desk, can induce stress as the body struggles to take in and circulate enough oxygen and nutrients to fuel the act of digestion. A shortage of oxygen and glucose makes digestion a slower and harder process.
  4. If there isn’t enough room in the chest cavity for the lungs to inflate to full capacity, the diaphragm muscle is underworked and becomes weaker. In healthy digestion, the diaphragm presses down on the abdomen, helping to push food, waste, and gas through the digestive If the diaphragm isn’t doing this, contents take longer to pass through, often resulting in bloating, constipation, and trapped wind.
  5. Slouching puts pressure on the abdomen, which can force stomach acid in the wrong direction (up rather than down), causing heartburn. If the diaphragm isn’t fully contracting, there’s no downward pressure to counteract pressure from the abdomen.
  6. Shallow breathing can be induced through poor posture. But it can also be a cause of poor Over time, respiratory muscles can weaken, and tension develops in the upper body, changing a person’s posture.
The spine

The average human head weighs approximately 5kg. It's supported by seven cervical vertebrae in the neck, held together by ligaments. Numerous muscle groups in the neck, shoulders, and upper back work to maintain ergonomic posture and to support and manipulate the head.

The human body is most comfortable when shoulders are above the hips, head is in an upright position, and the three natural curves of the spine are relaxed and unexaggerated. Most of us who work at a desk curve our spines, hunch our shoulders, and bend our heads forward.

  • For every 25mm the 5kg head is bent forward, 4.5kg is added to the neck’s load, resulting in neck So, when your head is bent forward 55mm, you’re tripling the load on your neck.
  • The strain of supporting a bent head for long periods can cause muscles to spasm, leading to headaches. 
  • Over time, a forward bend of the spine can put a load on the lower vertebrae. 
  • A misaligned spine causes weight to be redistributed to other parts of the body, like the knees, hips, and The result is muscle pain and degradation of supportive connective tissue, which can lead to osteoarthritis.
How can you improve your seated posture?

This is the ideal position:

  • Head and neck upright
  • Eyes level with the top of your computer monitor
  • Arms supported and parallel to the floor
  • Elbows close to the body
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Shoulders down, not hunched
  • Hips against the back of the chair
  • Back supported all the way up

If your office furniture isn’t perfect for this ideal position, try making some adjustments. For example:

  • If your computer monitor or laptop is too low, stand it on packs of printer paper or large books.
  • If your chair doesn’t have arm rests, move closer to the desk and rest your forearms on the desk.
  • Change your chair or adjust its height.
  • Use a footstool.
  • If your hips aren’t pressed against the back of the chair, place a rolled towel behind your lower back to close the gap.

2. Lack of movement and breaks

It’s so often the case that office workers spend the whole working day, including breaks, sitting at a desk. To stay healthy, we need to move and we need to rest our minds.

Standing burns about 50% more energy than sitting. Standing upright opens up your chest and abdomen, facilitating respiration and digestion. Blood flow is improved by the contraction and relaxation of your calf muscles.

After about 45 minutes of focused concentration, our attention wanders, and we work less effectively. A quick walk up and down stairs, or just getting up to look out of the window, make a cup of tea, or do some photocopying will refresh your mind for another 45 minutes of focused attention.

3. Dehydration

About 50% of the water in our bodies comes from drinking, and approximately 40% is from our food. Metabolic water, a by-product of cellular respiration, accounts for around 10%. Water, which makes up more than half a person’s body weight, is essential for every function of the body.

The dangers of dehydration

Dehydration can have a devastating impact on concentration and mood, causing tiredness, disorientation, confusion, headaches, irritability, and light-headedness.

Even 2% dehydration can impair cognitive performance, and 3% dehydration can slow down your reaction time to the same extent as 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Bearing in mind that with 0.08 BAC you’re five times more likely (compared to 0.00 BAC) to be involved in a road traffic accident, the result of 3% hydration could mean greater risk of a workplace accident.

Thirst is the most obvious signal of dehydration, but as we age, our thirst reflex weakens, so we must be aware of our fluid intake and stay hydrated, even if we’re not thirsty.

Stay hydrated

It’s always a good idea to stand up frequently and walk around. Regular trips to the hot-water dispenser for a cup of tea or coffee will not only ensure that you’re hydrating, but will also provide opportunity to stretch your legs and get a change of scene.

If you’re going into a long meeting, why not fill a water bottle to take in with you. Frequent sips of water throughout the meeting will keep your blood hydrated so it flows easily through your body to nourish your trillions of cells.

At Aqua Libra Co, we know a lot about hydration and water dispense. Find out more at

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