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Bad Posture at the Desk Can Lead to High Blood Pressure and Other Risks

If you spend long hours sitting at a desk each day, listen up -- or, more precisely, straighten up. Bad posture at your desk has been found to raise your blood pressure.

neck muscle posture

The muscles in your neck are linked directly to a brain region that regulates your heart rate and blood pressure.

The discovery was made by researchers at the University of Leeds, UK, who found that muscles in your neck have a direct connection to your nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) -- a part of the brainstem that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

"The pathway exists for bad posture to really have an effect," said researcher Ian Edwards.

Of course, high blood pressure is only one of the unsavory side effects of a day-long slouch marathon. Sitting improperly at your desk can lead to:

  • Increased risk of neck and back problems

  • Abnormal wear and tear on your joints, which can lead to arthritis

  • Improperly aligned bones and joints, which can lead to fatigue

  • Your spine becoming fixed in an abnormal position, which can lead to constricted blood vessels and nerves and problems with muscles, discs, and joints. In turn, this can cause headaches, fatigue, organ trouble and breathing problems.

  • Increased strains and pains

  • More stress on the ligaments that hold your spine's joints together

proper sitting posture

Proper sitting posture means keeping both feet flat on the floor, aligning your back with the back of your chair and keeping your shoulders straight.

What is Proper Sitting Posture?

We all know that you need to stand up straight and keep your shoulders back to have good posture, but what does "good sitting posture" look like? Use these tips to find out:

  • Keep both feet flat on the floor (if your feet cannot reach the floor, adjust the chair or use a footrest)

  • Align your back with the back of the chair

  • Don't slouch or lean forward

  • Adjust the chair so your knees are even with your hips, or slightly higher, and your arms are at a 75-90 degree angle at the elbows

  • Keep your shoulders straight

Stretch Your Way Toward a Healthier Life

Here's what people are saying about Jacques Gauthier's "Stretching Toward a Healthier Life" DVD:

"Without a doubt, the simple stretching exercises on this DVD will add life to your years ... and years to your life!"
 -- Dr. Jean Chevrefils, Quebec

"I found Jacques' stretching program extremely beneficial for my own chronic back pain and can recommend it highly."
 -- Walter C. Prehn, MD

"I've had your videotape for a year now and have been doing the stretching intensively. My back and knee pain are now just a bad memory."
 -- Pierrette Abel

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Stretching DVD

If you're having trouble getting into a good postured sitting position that feels right, here's a trick: get an exercise ball and try using it instead of your regular chair. In order to keep your balance on the ball, you will have to sit up straight with both feet on the floor, which will give you an idea of what good sitting posture should feel like.

Finally, you can reduce the strain that comes from sitting all day (an unnatural position for the human body when done in long periods) by stretching. Check out Nine Important Stretches if You Work at a Desk Much of the Day for simple stretches to do right at your desk.

And remember that you can reduce muscle tension, increase your flexibility and improve your posture overall by making stretching a regular part of your day. The Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD is an ideal way to do this as it presents 15 stretches that stretch all the key muscle groups throughout your entire body, and takes just 15-20 minutes to complete.

The great thing about stretching is that once you incorporate it into your routine, it will make sitting at your desk much easier on your body.

Recommended Reading

How to Sit at a Desk All Day and Still be Healthy

The Surprising Health & Psychological Benefits of a Clean, Uncluttered Desk


The Journal of Neuroscience, August 1, 2007, 27(31):8324-8333

New Scientist August 11, 2007

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