There’s mounting scientific evidence that sitting throughout the day – which millions of Americans do at work – can lead to a variety of health problems. In fact, excessive sitting is linked to 34 chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The bottom line is simple: sit less, move more.
Embrace New Behaviors
As a starting point, change your workplace behaviors. If you don’t already, it’s recommended that you start:
- Climbing the stairs – Instead of pushing that elevator button, push yourself to take the stairs. Granted, if you work in a skyscraper, no one is suggesting that you trek 80 flights; you could, however, exit the elevator a couple of floors before your actual destination and then take the stairs.
- Talking – If you need to communicate a brief bit of information to a coworker, instead of sending an email, why not actually walk to that person’s workspace and share the information in person. Not only will you be getting off your duff, but you also will be strengthening interpersonal relationships.
- Going hands-free – Invest in a hands-free headset, then every time that you need to make a phone call, stand up. Over the course of a conversation, you’ll find yourself naturally pacing, and that’s a good thing.
- Taking walking breaks – Set the alarm on your cell phone to ring every hour. When it does, that’s your reminder to stand up and take a brief walk. Even if you’re just cruising to the water cooler and back, it’s essential that you get up from that seated position every 60 or so minutes.
- Requesting a stand-up desk – With increasing frequency, employees are requesting that their traditional sit-down desks be replaced by a stand-up model. And with good reason; a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that workers who switched to stand-up desks reported a marked improvement in their moods overall.
In addition to altering workplace behaviors, there are exercises that you can do in your workspace that will both get you off your rear and improve your health. Consider these 10 easy stretches and exercises:
Stretches (stand up and do each for 15 to 30 seconds)
- Neck: Slowly tilt your head toward your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds; repeat for left shoulder.
- Shoulders: Grab your right elbow with your left arm and pull across your chest; repeat for left elbow.
- Hamstrings: With hands on waist, bend forward as far as you can.
- Thighs: Grab your right ankle and pull it upward toward your rear; repeat with left ankle.
- Calves: Lean into your desk with your heels on the floor; bend knees slightly to stretch your Achilles tendons.
- Squats; Standing in front of your chair, sit up and down 10 times, three times a day.
- Shrugs: Pull your shoulders as high as possible toward your ears; roll them forward 10 times and backward 10 times. Repeat periodically throughout the day.
- Arm raises: While marching in place, raise your arms up and down toward the ceiling 20 times.
- Jumps: Assume a half-squat position with your arms behind you; jump and swing your arms above your head. Repeat 10 times.
- Push-ups: Put your hands on the edge of your desk, shoulder-width apart, with your legs out behind you. Push off from your desk with as much force as possible. Repeat 10 times.