“Sitting is the new Smoking” reads numerous headlines that debuted around 2013. Mounting evidence has lead leading scientists, chiropractors, and public health professionals to caution office workers against the long-term damage that sitting all day can cause. Of course, not moving all day can cause problems, but the postures assumed by sitting for upwards of 8 hours per day can upset the body so seriously that no amount of exercise can undo what sitting does. For the sake of your present health, weight, and longevity, here are some ways to get more mobile in your office space.
Make standing regularly a habit. Set a timer on your phone or computer reminding you to stand up, take a lap around the office, drink some water, and reposition your posture. Google Chrome extensions will help you keep track of time and alert you when you’ve been sitting too long. Or, if you’re into trying some wearable technology, fitbits or jawbones will notify you when your heart rate need a little extra boost.
Work at a standing desk. While not all offices will be able to accommodate this, it’s certainly worth a try. Standing for at least parts of your day will help stretch your muscles, relieve any aching or pain caused by ill-advised sitting postures, and at the very least, burn a few more calories per hour. If you don’t want to buy a brand new standing desk, often times a tall box on top of a desk or a cafe bar will allow you to stand and work without the sometimes exorbitant costs of a new gizmo.
As you’re able, conduct meetings while walking. If you’re not bound to a computer and are just trying to brainstorm ideas, you can just as easily conduct meetings while you’re walking. Mobile phones will suffice for taking notes as needed in such instances, so the concern about where you’ll jot down ideas is thus assuaged. In 2014, Stanford released a study indicating that walking helps stimulate creativity in the brain, so if what you need is fresh ideas, a walking meeting might be the best thing for you.
Stretch! Sitting is known to shut off electrical activity to the leg muscles, causing a reduction in calories burned and the potential for the muscles in the legs to atrophy. There are some basic, unintrusive stretches you can perform at your desk to help wake up your muscles and burn a few extra calories. Simple activities like touching your toes or twisting your back can help negate the damage done by the posture of a desk chair.
Hold yourself accountable. As we all know from our yearly New Years’ Resolutions, we tend not to meet our goals unless we are held accountable for all the steps between the starting line and the finishing line. If you’re serious about reducing the amount of time you spend sitting per day, tell a coworker or a friend. Maybe schedule a daily walk around the block together, or schedule a phone call with a friend so you’re obligated to leave the office, walk, and talk every day. Additionally, there are podcasts about mindful living that will inspire you daily with others who are striving for a more healthful lifestyle.
By being just a little more mindful of how often you let your body move and stretch, you can make your office job just a little more fulfilling and live a healthier lifestyle.