Is Your Job Ruining Your Body?

The quick answer: YES When a recent study found that sitting all day shortens women's lives, we gasped in our cubicles, leapt to our feet, and then...sat back down. But there's good news: You can undo the damage and the physical symptoms of stress, whether you spend your days stuck at a desk or chasing kids around.

DO YOU SIT ALL DAY LONG? It's official: Sitting too much is bad for you. Not only does it place pressure on the low back and tailbone, causing pain and even sciatic nerve trouble for some women, but two recent studies also found that the more time people spend on their butts each day, the more likely they are to die of cancer or heart disease. How to stay healthy: The way to ward off both back strain and the scarier, more serious health effects of sitting is fairly simple. "For five minutes every hour, get up and do something - a trip to the bathroom or the watercooler works, but the more active you can be, the better.
Related: The Scary Truth About What Stress Does to Your Body AND How to Deal with Chronic Back Pain

Many moms end up with soreness and tightness of the low back and shoulders, what should be called "mommy back." Momhood can be so hard on your body, in fact, that there's a whole group of medical experts who specialize in it: pre- and postpartum physical therapists.
Related: The Real Reason Moms Can't Sleep AND Kick Stress with These Simple Moves

DO YOU TYPE CONSTANTLY? Spending 20 or more hours a week in front of a computer can put someone at risk of wrist injuries. Often the damage is severe enough that surgery is the only real cure, he says. That's why prevention is so crucial. How to stay healthy: "When you're typing, keep your wrists in a neutral position," says John Lloyd, Ph.D., a certified ergonomist in South Florida - never rest them on your desk or hold them up too high. "Ideally, your forearms should be supported on armrests." Interesting Fact: "During 'that time of the month,' your body retains water, including in the arms and wrists, which increases pressure on the nerves," Lloyd says. (Who knew?)
Related: How to Stay Positive at Work AND 5 Jobs That Take Guts

DO YOU WORK NIGHTS? One major study found that night-shift nurses were more likely to end up getting breast cancer than those who worked during the day, and other new research found that night-shifters are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome. How to stay healthy: "Once you get home, decrease room temperature in the bedroom, pull down the shades, and use earplugs to block out interruptions," says Joseph Cilona, Psy.D., a psychologist in New York City.
Related: "I Work the Graveyard Shift"

DO YOU STAND FOR HOURS ON END? Women who stand for more than eight hours a day have significantly higher rates of varicose veins than those who are on their feet less, research has found. How to stay healthy: It seems counterintuitive, but after a long day of putting pressure on your legs and feet, the smartest thing to do is move them. "Sitting with your legs up can relieve engorged veins and soreness temporarily, but increasing circulation by moving around is the best thing," says Andrew Kwak, M.D., a varicose-vein expert in Bryn Mawr, PA.
Related: Why Are You So Tired? Learn 7 Causes of Fatigue

Where things get ugly is if the pressure becomes chronic and your body and brain are constantly awash in stress hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol. That can lead to extra belly fat, and increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease, says business psychologist Debra Condren, Ph.D., author of Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word. How to stay healthy: Physical activity can stop the production of cortisol and get rid of tension held in your muscles. Though any kind of physical activity will work, intense cardio like jogging or stair climbing may work best.
Related: How Busy Women Beat Stress AND 5 Tricks to Get More Done in a Day

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