Does your job require you to sit for long periods of time each day? Perhaps you work 8 or 9 hours daily just as millions of Americans do. While it’s true that bills need to get paid (and organic veggies and grass-fed meats purchased), they shouldn’t at the expense of your health.
First, what’s the big hubbub about sitting for so long? Well, doing so on a consistent basis dramatically increases risk of disease.
A study conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center concluded that people who sit for the majority of the day are 54% more likely to suffer fatal heart attacks, while another study found that being sedentary for more than six hours a day increases one’s risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease and obesity by 18%.
The mere act of sitting is also believed to inhibit the circulation of the fat-absorbing enzyme,lipase. Add these detriments on top of muscle stiffness, joint aches and mental and physical sluggishness and you have a recipe for disease.
But we are here to help you! If you suffer from CSAW (Chronic Sitting At Work), here are 8 tips to incorporate healthy habits into your busy work schedule.
1. Take Breaks
Get up and move at least once per hour. Walk to the office kitchen for a cup of tea or shimmy over to a co-worker’s cubicle to chat in person rather than through email or instant messenger. Keep yourself hydrated with water, which will lead to more frequent bathroom breaks. Plus, scientific studies have shown that brief diversions from stretches of work actually improve focus once you return to the task. So, consider breaks to not only be investments in your health, but also in your productivity.
Every so often, show some love to that body of yours. Stand in your cubicle and stretch your legs, your arms, shrug those shoulders, touch those toes. Get those creaks out. Your brain directs the highest percentage of its attention to areas under the most stress, so if your body is taken care of, your mind can better concentrate on the projects at hand.
3. Exercise At Lunch
Something I do nearly every workday is take a midday walk along the neighborhood streets near my office building. When I re-enter the office 45 minutes later, I feel physically recharged, mentally refreshed and ready to work.
Whether it’s you and your iPod or you and a friend, try a walk this week. I bet you that, like mine, your co-workers will notice and feel encouraged to try out some lunch walks themselves.
Likewise, if your work has a company gym, take advantage of it! Check to see if light exercise options like yoga classes (because we don’t want to get all sweaty for the rest of the day) are available during the lunch hours.
4. Sitting Desk Alternatives
Standing desks, treadmill desks and core-stabilizing balls are growing trends among health-conscious employees throughout the country. These innovations can be expensive at the product level, but you can devise ways to work around this. For example, there are relatively simple ways to convert your desk into a standing one. In fact, a co-worker of mine who, after injuring his back while exercising, ingeniously propped up his monitor on a series of cardboard boxes to manufacture his own standing desk.
If you do use one of these sitting desk alternatives, take care to properly adjust your wrist alignment to coordinate with the keyboard height and balance your standing with periods of sitting to alleviate the stress on your joints and cardiovascular system. It’s all about balance!