Many people spend 8-10 hours per day sitting at a desk for work, then go home via a car or public transportation to then sit down for dinner followed by unwinding on the couch. With so much sitting and so little activity, we are a country in danger of being known as a “nation of couch potatoes”. The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as one of the biggest killers of the modern world with increases in cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and other health issues developing as a result. Nearly 1 in 4 people blame their aches and pains on their work environment because they remain in the same position for long periods of time. Being sedentary during the day weakens your muscles, and encourages a sluggish metabolism, poor postural habits, and a general lack of energy. With longer working hours, more frequently working from the couch at home and more people using TVs, smartphones, and tablets as a means of relaxation, we are sitting down more than ever before.
So what can we do about it? Although big changes like taking a power walk over lunch or working out at the gym after work are very helpful, it may be the smaller, “micro-movements” that you make all day that will really make a difference in your health. Here are some ideas you may be able to incorporate into your work day to help build better habits and health.
On any break you have, be it lunch or just a coffee break, try to head outside for a quick walk. If that isn’t possible, make sure to stand up every 30 minutes at your desk.
Change your desk or chair
Ask management for a better, more supportive chair(or buy it yourself if able) to help maintain better posture. You can also get a stand-up desk that allows you to work from a sitting or standing position.
Get your steps in
Use a pedometer or fitness app or watch to track your steps and aim for 10,000 per day. Try taking the longer route into the office or to your desk, use the stairs instead of the elevator or go to the bathroom on another floor if possible.
Sit on an exercise ball
While you might attract some attention from coworkers, you’ll be working on your core and challenging your balance without realizing it.
Mini stretching sessions
Try to do small groups of stretches at your desk 3-5 times per day to improve your posture and increase your movement.
Create a healthy desk
Try not to eat lunch at your desk, instead get up and move somewhere else. Also, try not to keep unhealthy snacks at your desk as they are the first thing you’ll reach for when stressed. Instead have some nutritious snacks on hand and don’t forget to have lots of water available all day.
Even if you’re healthy, spending all day sitting isn’t good for your health. But with some planning, you can incorporate more movement into your daily life at work and at home.