By Belinda Riddle Letto As technology rapidly changes the way we do business, more and more people are finding themselves spending an increasingly number of hours behind a desk and in front of a computer. Not so long ago, having a desk job was considered a good thing. Today, not so much. In fact, sitting for prolonged periods of time is called the “new smoking” due to increased health risks. According to a study in the 2015 “Annals of Internal Medicine,” “Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.” Outcomes associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time included an increased incidence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. More than half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary, sitting, watching television or working at a computer, concluded researchers. An even more disturbing finding was that while exercising for half an hour a day may help, it isn’t enough to counteract the remaining 23 plus hours we are inactive. The effect was worse in people at lower levels of physical activity than at highest levels. The good news … adding more activity to your day may be easier than you think. Here are a few tips to help you sit less, and move more.
- Take a 1-3 minute break every half hour or so during the day to stand and move around. You could fit this in by taking the stairs, walking during a break or noon time, pace or walk in place during phone calls.
- Get up and walk to your colleagues’ desk to talk versus emailing, calling out, or instant messaging them.
- Schedule a regular 5-10 minute physical activity break into your day, such as 10 minutes of activity at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
- Have standing meetings. They are usually shorter and more to the point.
- Use a fitness tracker that counts your steps or miles. Work up to 10,000 or more steps (about 5 miles), a guideline recommended by most health organizations.
- Set a timer to remind you to get up and move. There are several free apps and fitness trackers that will signal you. Some trackers and apps will let you form a group with friends on your device for extra motivation.
- Sit on an exercise ball or invest in a desk treadmill or under-the-desk exerciser to move more while working.
- Tidy up your office more often.
- Pack your lunch and save some time during your lunch break for a walk.
- Park your car farther from the front door of your office building.
- Wear comfortable shoes that encourage walking, or keep an extra pair of walking shoes at the office.
- Form a work group walk club.
While all of these suggestions may not work for you, try those you can and are willing to do and skip the rest. Better yet, add to this list. Bottom line: This isn’t an issue to be taken sitting down. Make moving more a part of your daily routine while at work.