It’s not exactly breaking news that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health. We’ve been hearing about it for years. But until recently, our jobs have been left out of the equation. Now that’s all changed. The frequency in the number of stories about the detriments of sitting for too long—at work or otherwise—has increased exponentially, and with good reason. After all, how much of the day do you spend at your job?
If your job requires you to sit at a desk all day long, are you doomed to a life of cardiovascular disease or diabetes—or maybe even a premature death? I certainly don’t think so, not as long as you’re willing to purposely bring some activity into your day. If you can make moving a priority, you can work your desk job and live a long, healthy life.
As a freelance writer and a part-time Client Happiness Specialist (fun name for office manager) at a local acupuncture clinic, I can potentially sit for hours on end. Here are a few strategies I use to combat my sitting lifestyle—and they just might work for you too.
Build walking into your day, wherever and whenever you can. I’ve always been that person who avoids the closest spots at the parking lot. Everybody wants them, which makes the congestion a real hassle when you’re trying to get out. I’d just as soon take my time and leave when I’m good and ready. Plus, parking further away requires me to walk that much more. I do the same thing at the office complex where I work. If it’s available, I park in the spot furthest away from the clinic door just to build a little more walking into my day. It seems simple, but it adds up. Right? Right.
Purposely leave something in your car. Whether it’s my lunch, my sweater, or my wallet, I leave something in my car that I’ll have to walk out and get at some point in the day. Parking as far away as possible makes this strategy even more effective. Little things can make a big difference.
Set a timer to get up and move around. I’ve been setting the timer on my phone for 30 minutes. When it goes off, I stand up and move around. Getting a drink of water, using the restroom, or going over to ask my boss a question face-to-face are all common things to take care of. However, if I’m alone in the clinic, I’ll do some squats, jumping jacks, or even jog in place for a little bit. Though maybe I should just start shouting out, “Time to do some squats!”—and see if everyone joins in. 😉 If it’s a writing day for me, I’ll jump on my mini trampoline for a few minutes or fold a load of laundry to get my move on.
Request a standing workstation. If your office is making any changes in the setup, you may want to request a standing workstation. Of course you can also require a higher desk chair to go along with this new, healthier choice so you don’t have to stand the entire time. Turns out, standing for an extended period of time isn’t the best thing for you either. If a standing workstation isn’t an option, consider asking if you can switch out your desk chair for an exercise ball or backless stool so you’re forced to use your core to sit up straight. It’s better than nothing.
Exercise daily. This strategy alone cannot undo a full day of sitting at a desk, but it’s still a critical aspect of a healthy lifestyle. So pick the exercise that you love doing, and make sure you do it before or after work. If you need someone to hold you accountable, ask a buddy to exercise with you.
Does your lifestyle tend to leave you sitting more than you should? What are your favorite strategies for combating its effects?