Do you spend most of your time sitting at a desk? If so you may have a high-risk job. Not in the same way as a policeman or a fighter pilot, but staying glued to a seat for hours at a time can take its toll on your health. Need proof?
According to a study carried out by the American Cancer Society, sitting more than 6 hours a day boosts the risk of dying from all causes by up to 40%. Other research shows that prolonged sitting increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, all conditions that can shorten your life. This holds true even if you exercise for an hour a day. It seems that too much sitting sends your body into “idle mode.” This leads to biochemical changes that increase the risk of death.
So what’s the solution? Don’t stop working out at the gym, but take steps to be more active during working hours and improve your workplace health. Need some guidance? Here are some tips for staying active at work.
Take advantage of the stairs
If you work in an office that has stairs, use them to your advantage. Walking up and down the stairs a few times will boost your heart rate and get blood and oxygen circulating to your brain. This helps ward off fatigue and improve your ability to think and make decisions. Plus, it keeps your body out of idle mode. Take a break every hour and tackle the stairs. You’ll feel more refreshed when you return, and you’ll be doing something good for your health.
Take a walk at lunch
Who says you have to sit in the cafeteria, and eat high-calorie food at lunchtime? Bring a protein bar to work and munch on it while you take a brisk walk outdoors. An outdoor walk helps to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can add inches to your waistline and increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Instead of feeling sleepy because you ate too much, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the remaining challenges of the day.
Pedal under your desk
Buy a portable pedal machine and place it under your desk. Pedal machines are like mini-exercise bikes that allow you to work your legs while sitting at a desk. They’re easy to use, and you can purchase one for under $50.00. You can get even fancier and add a treadmill desk in your office, but it’ll cost you a few more bucks.
Work your muscles
Who says you need a gym to work your muscles? Bring a set of hand weights to work, and use them to do a few curls and kickbacks every hour or so. Resistance bands work well too. They’re like giant rubber bands under tension that you can use in place of weights. Work your lower body by doing calf raises and squats. You might want to shut the door of your office before beginning your “workout.”
Other tips for staying active at the office
If you’re stuck in your seat, do a series of stretching exercises every hour or so. Stretching will help to loosen your muscles and reduce the risk of back and neck pain. The key is to break up your periods of sitting with activity. Set a timer to go off at a set time as a reminder to move around.
The bottom line?
Staying active at work helps to reduce fatigue and ward off health problems. Spend less time sitting and more time moving around, and you’ll feel better at the end of the day. Do it for your health.