Falling into a sedentary lifestyle is easy to do when you work a typical 9-5 office job. First, you start by sitting when necessary and then you slowly fall into habits that keep you in your chair for hours at a time without even realizing it. Sitting for long periods of time can have long term affects on your health and ultimately, longevity.
I worked for Starbucks for five years, and was on my feet all day long and that didn’t bother me. A little over a year ago I transitioned into an office job with ASL. In the beginning I hated that I was confined to a desk for the majority of my day (since I was so used to being on the go). As the weeks and months went on, I got comfortable in my chair, and I realized that I hated having to stand up to do anything. For the simplest task I would roll around my cubicle in my chair, rather than simply stand up and walk to what I needed. I thought,” no big deal, I workout at least 4 days a week so it’s fine”, but in the grand scheme of things, even if you workout roughly 6 hours a week, that is nothing in comparison to the 8+ hours a day you spend sitting at work, then your post-work couch potato time, and then sleeping at night to wake up and do it all again the next day.
There are some simple changes that you can make in your day to day that will:
1. Keep you active
2. Make you feel better (mentally and physically)
3. Prolong your life
• Make activity fun for your employees! You can get employees involved by holding competitions through Fitbit or any other fitness apps that can track activity during the work day, and provide prizes for your winners (this will put a fun spin on being active and gives them goals to meet)
• Have stand-up desks as an option for employees
• Participate in standing/walking meetings, rather than sitting in a conference room (this benefits your health, as well as keeps people alert for the topic you are discussing)
• Provide fresh fruit options for employees in the break room (my company provides us with fruit deliveries every Monday, and it lasts us all week)
• Stand up every 10 minutes or so (this is proven to be better than walking because the stimulus is spread throughout the day rather than in one- 10 minute walk. Remember it isn’t about how long you stand, but how often)
• Replace your chair with an exercise ball (this promotes core strength and can help improve balance and flexibility)
• Take the stairs rather than the elevator (this will get your heart rate up)
• Use parts of your break to walk the building, or even outside on a nice day (this benefits your health, as well as gives you a chance to escape the office for a bit)
• Stay hydrated, try filling your water bottle or cup once an hour
• Keep going-out to lunch to a minimum, pack your lunches from home instead
• Keep healthy, small-portioned snacks in your desk to curb cravings (nuts, granola bars, freeze dried fruit, etc.)
• Walk to your coworkers desks to have face-to-face conversations rather than exchange emails or phone calls
• Ankle weight leg lifts at your desk
• Organize your office or cubicle so that things are out of reach (this will force you to stand up, try to avoid rolling around in your chair)
• Get a portable bike pedal machine for under your desk (if you are feeling extra motivated)
• Stay active outside of work, get in a good workout or even a walk around your neighborhood or local park 2-3 times a week for at least 30 minutes
In conclusion, a desk job doesn’t have to be the end of your active lifestyle. If you can modify parts of your work day, you can stay just as healthy and fit as someone who stands at work all day. Small changes can make a tremendous difference in how you feel, both mentally and physically. If you would like to read more on this topic, check out Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Newsletter.