13.01.2021 change 13.01.2021

Home working is bad for the spine and makes us fatter, say scientists

Credit: Fotolia Credit: Fotolia

Remote work has a destructive impact on the spine, and the average person is putting on two kilograms during the pandemic, say scientists.

Dr. Przemysław Domaszewski from the Department of Antropomotorics and Biomechanics at the Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Opole University of Technology said: “Working remotely deprived us of extra physical activity that we did not even notice. I mean leaving home, going to the bus stop, climbing stairs at work, going from place to place, going to the toilet at the end of the corridor. 

“When working remotely, we have everything in close proximity, most people sit at the computer all day. The same applies to children who spend the whole day sitting: first during remote classes, then resting in front of the TV, and then playing computer games. 

“It is very difficult to maintain balance between being active and sitting, which for us is a worse position than standing. I would like to remind that the natural posture of our body is standing.”

According to Dr. Domaszewski, one of the ways to reduce the negative effects of many hours of sitting is to return to desktops known from historical films, at which one works while standing.

“Several of my students have changed their desk to ones at which they are standing. The advantage of this choice is the ability to move. When we sit, we contract certain muscles that will condition changes in the spine, for example. 

“When sitting, the thighs in the front contract, which attracts the hips. Then the lordosis of the lumbar region increases, which will increase the kyphosis of the thoracic spine and bend the cervical spine more strongly. 

“Therefore, after sitting in front of the computer for a whole day, it is best to  introduce an element of classical gymnastics, yoga, stretching to stretch the contracted muscles. I am afraid that otherwise we will have many more posture defects. Even now, when you look at young people, it is not good. I suspect that it may get worse due to muscle tension, contractures, and worsening dysfunctions resulting from lack of movement.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pandemic has also increased weight gain with recent data showing that on average, we gained and extra 2 kg.

Domaszewski said: “One of my graduate students conducts research on how the physical activity of residents of Opole has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have two groups within the two kilograms mentioned above. 

“The first group exercises regardless of what is happening, they use online activities, they exercise at home. This group retains their body weight almost unchanged, while the second group assumes that if the gyms are closed, and classes such as aerobics are also closed, we are sitting at home. 

“They have a great excuse, because everything is closed. They, in turn, have often gained significantly more than two kilograms. This is shooting yourself in the foot. Physical activity protects us, our body works better, we feel better not only physically but also mentally.”

He added that both athletes and people who train recreationally tend to have milder course of the infection.

He said: “At this stage, we cannot rely on scientific research yet, but we can see that the infection is passing faster and more efficiently. I notice a bigger problem in people who have had the coronavirus, but were not physically active. Now, with little effort, they are out of breath.”

PAP - Science in Poland, Marek Szczepanik

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