A lot of sitting with little movement and poor ergonomics harms our musculoskeletal system, metabolism and cardiovascular system.

What does all this sitting do to us?


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3 facts

Musculoskeletal problems cause the most sick days and generate unnecessary costs.


DAK health report 2020

  • 21.2% Musculoskeletal problems
  • 17.1% Mental illness
  • 14.5% Respiratory diseases
  • 11.8% Injuries

Many other diseases can be linked to a sedentary lifestyle.


Wilmot, E. G.; et al. (2012): Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and metaanalysis. In: Diabetologia 55 (11), p.2895–2905.

Falck, Ryan S.; et al. (2017): What is the association between sedentary behaviour and cognitive function? A systematic review. In: British journal of sports medicine 51 (10), p. 800–811.

Schmid, Daniela; et al. (2014): Television viewing and time spent sedentary in relation to cancer risk: a meta-analysis. In: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 106 (7).

www.welt.de/gesundheit/article130891138/Sitzen-gefaehrdet-Ihre-Gesundheit.html, retrieved on 26.03.2021, 3pm

Cardiovascular diseases

a.o. high blood pressure

Mental illnesses

a.o. depression

Metabolic diseases

a.o. diabetes type 2


a.o. colorectal cancer and lung cancer

Higher risk due to home office:
In 2020, sick days due to back problems increased by 7%.


Sick leave analysis of the DAK

Poor ergonomics

Less movement

Abandonment of healthy habits

Health science consideration

What is the problem?

People spend most of the day sitting. While eating, watching TV on the couch, on the way to work or at work itself. Studies show that people usually spend 55 to 75 percent of the day sitting, which corresponds to about 9 to 12 hours. The health consequences can be serious and range from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal to mental illnesses. Office workers, who usually spend the working day sitting, are therefore on average in the upper range of this scale and are particularly at risk.

This is why sitting should be interrupted regularly

Sitting causes the organism to shut down, which reduces metabolic activity. As a result, organ functions, heart functions and the activity of the immune system can decrease. The first signs of this are tiredness and fatigue, which affects performance and concentration. The low metabolism caused by low muscle activity leads to fat deposits in the body, which in the long run can cause cardiovascular diseases. According to experts, the risk of contracting such diseases is about 13% higher with excessive sitting.  Even less than one hour of uninterrupted sitting can lead to an undersupply of cells. With longer periods of sitting, as is common in everyday office life, insulin resistance already develops, which in the worst case can also lead to type 2 diabetes over a long period of time. According to studies, the risk of developing this disease is even 90% higher.

How musculoskeletal disorders develop

Basically, every structure in the body needs stimuli to build itself up, and at the same time body functions that are not used are broken down. One example is bones: if they are not subjected to a certain load or pressure, this has a negative effect on bone density. An unergonomic sitting position, which is usually caused by an unbalanced posture, has a particularly severe effect on the body, as it usually leads to under- and overloading of body regions at the same time. Sitting for long periods of time and the resulting tension reduces the blood supply to the tissues and means that fewer nutrients reach them. Tension in the muscles reduces their efficiency; if this is the case, the supporting effect of the muscles is reduced, which puts more strain on joints and, for example, the spine. Sitting on one side can shorten ligaments and harden muscles, often resulting in neck, back and headaches. These effects are usually exacerbated when working at a computer, which often creates a forward-leaning posture. This causes the head to pull the spine into an even greater curve, which puts strain on the intervertebral discs and over time can lead to a permanent bad posture, known to most as a “hunchback”.

What role does fluid play in health?

Besides exercise, hydration also has an impact on health. Fascia needs movement and water to keep the body in shape and give it its elasticity. If you don’t move enough or drink enough, the fasciae become matted, which leads to pain and reduces suppleness. In general, however, all structures in the body need water to function. The water and all nutrients enter the bloodstream via the intestines, from there into the arteries and then via the capillaries to the various parts of the body. Some parts of the body are supplied directly via the capillaries, other parts of the body such as the meniscus, intervertebral discs and cartilage are not supplied with blood but absorb the water and nutrients from the surrounding tissue through a sponge-like supply process. This sponge-like supply process is triggered by movement, as old substances are pushed out by pressure and new substances are sucked in when the pressure is released.

What you should know

In addition to physical complaints, regular and prolonged sitting often also has an effect on mental well-being if stressors are not relieved as usual as a result. Experts believe that depression can be the result.

Research has shown that even extensive recreational sports cannot fully compensate for the risks of prolonged sitting.

How can I preserve my health

An upright and balanced posture provides relief and thus better care for the tissues. Posture also has an influence on one’s inner posture; those who sit upright take up more space and thus have a positive and self-confident demeanour. We recommend taking breaks from sitting as often as possible. A study by Genevieve et al. shows that “even activities as minimal as standing instead of sitting have been shown to significantly increase total daily energy expenditure and resistance to fat gain”. Most importantly, however, is to increase the amount of time spent moving during work. Active breaks and balancing exercises are the best way to minimise health risks. They ensure that circulation and blood flow are stimulated and that important parts of the body are supplied with nutrients. Active breaks do not have to be long, but they should be regular. Current studies indicate that the risk of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases can be reduced by taking small but active breaks at intervals of 40-60 minutes.