Tips for Staying Active at a Desk Job
Staying healthy and active is difficult in the modern era of the desk job. For those of us who perform most of our work in front of computers, it’s difficult to get out of our chairs and get the circulation going. But if we don’t make an effort to fight the negative health affects of a desk job, we may end up paying for it in a big way. Health professionals have begun referring to long periods of inactivity and their results on our health as “sitting disease. “ But instead of one condition, research has linked extended periods of sedentary activity with a wide variety of negative affects and harmful conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. While this information isn’t necessarily new, more recent studies has suggested that even people who exercise and eat right on a regular basis are still at far higher risk for health problems if they sit for long periods of the day. For those of us who spend 40+ hours of work sitting down, all is not lost. Here are a few ways you can counteract the desk job and its health risks. Break Up Periods of Sitting with Light Activity You don’t have to eliminate the chair from your daily routine. Instead, you can focus more on mixing in activity throughout the day. Getting out of your chair every so often to walk, stretch, or perform any other moderate activity will help fight the affects of extensive sitting. The key is to do it regularly – you could set a reminder to ping you each hour and remind you to out of your chair for a few minutes. Many fitness bands, phone apps, and even desktop calendars can easily be set to remind you periodically to get moving. You could even schedule walking meetings – instead of sitting in a conference room, take your team on a walk around the block while you talk out a problem. Even standing periodically can help - during meetings or phone calls, you always have the option to stand – especially if you have a hands-free headset. Standing Desks For those hours logged in front of the computer, an adjustable standing desk is a great option. Rolling this solution out office-wide may require cooperation from coworkers and management. But a recent study found that 67% of office workers wished they had adjustable desks, and over half believed they would be more productive if they had the option to stand and work. Which is to say you may not have trouble finding some likeminded coworkers to team up and make a strong case for adjustable desks that can be moved from a sitting to a standing position. For management, purchasing adjustable desks for everyone may be a sizeable investment. But the returns on employee health could be compelling – standing more during the day builds muscle, helps posture, increases blood flow, and burns calories. Take the Stairs If you typically take the elevator, you may want to take the stairs instead – climbing 3 to 5 flights of stairs a day in lieu of the elevator burns calories in a big way – there’s a reason you see so many people on Stairmasters or elliptical machines at the gym. If you work on the 20th floor and can’t start your day with that kind of climb, you could always take the elevator to the 15th floor and start from there. Sit on a Balance Ball You’ve probably seen office workers sitting on a fitness or balance ball instead of a chair. While they are a bit silly looking, they’re doing wonders for core health as they keep your core muscles engaged all day. They’re also great for posture. Conclusion It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re doing to fight long periods of inactivity at your desk – as long as you’re doing something. If you already hit the gym and exercise frequently, it may be disheartening to learn that regular workouts don’t counteract your desk job inactivity that much, but that isn’t a reason to ditch the gym. Instead, work in regular, light activity – such as standing, walking, or stretching – periodically instead of staying glued to your chair. The long-term effects can be tremendous for your health.