Sitting at a desk all day might not seem like it’s hard on your body, but we are discovering that being glued to your chair too many hours each day does do some damage. Doctors call it sitting disease: a condition that arises when we’re sedentary. This condition increases our chances of heart disease, colon cancer, bad posture, weak muscles, and poor circulation.
Being sedentary doesn’t have anything to do with how much you exercise. Instead, it’s a measure of the proportion of time that you’re active each day. That means even if you hit the gym as often as you should, you’re still considered sedentary if your job requires you to sit most of the day. Try some of these tips to combat sitting disease:
Start at Home
You can take steps to alleviate some of the negative effects of your desk job outside of office hours — literally.
Start off with a good exercise routine. A “good” routine is one that you can stick to and that you enjoy. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or about 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Incorporating yoga or pilates can help improve your posture, one area where health suffers from sitting too long. The most important part of your routine is being sure that it’s efficient, so try to make the most of your time.
If you can bike or walk to work, start leaving your house a little earlier and add some activity to your day. If you’re in the office for eight hours every weekday, time can get scarce for dedicated workout time. Your commute is an opportunity to easily work it in, so hop on your bike instead of behind the wheel.
Reconsider your loyalty if you’re a regular at whichever fast food place is closest to work. Fast food is usually high-calorie, and restaurants often opt out of sharing the ingredient lists of their dishes. When you pack your own lunch, you know exactly what is going in your body, which makes it easier to be sure that it’s healthy. It’s also easier on your wallet to bring your own food.
If you have time on your lunch break, aim for a midday gym session. Squeezing in your gym time during your break gives you a boost, so you finish your workday right. If you don’t have time, go for a walk instead. Any activity is better than none.
In the Office
As more research on how sedentary jobs affect our minds and bodies comes to light, businesses are looking for better ways to keep workers happier and more fit, from shorter work days, to standing desks, to office pets. It’s not always possible to walk away from your desk job, but you can walk around your office.
It’s recommended that for every 30 minutes you’re sitting, you walk for 5 minutes. Walking can make you more productive by giving you a chance to think about something other than your work for a few minutes, meaning you will come back to your tasks with fresh eyes.
Try pacing while you talk on the phone for an easy way to get some extra steps in. On your next break, take a walk instead of sitting in the break room. Instead of emailing your co-worker next time you have a question, get up and walk to their desk. If you feel brave, you can also try working out at your desk.
Stand at your desk if you have the option. As we learn more about the dangers of sitting, many offices have begun providing standing desks for employees, but even if you don’t have a special desk, your office may be flexible about standing at your workstation.
Standing burns about 50 more calories every hour than sitting, which adds up to the equivalent of running 10 marathons every year for the average person, or 8 pounds of fat burned. Standing for long periods doesn’t cause the symptoms of sitting disease, so while standing still for 8 hours isn’t preferred to being active, it is much better than sitting for that long. It can also make you feel more alert and productive.
If you must sit for hours, do what you can to break up long periods of rest with some activity. Studies have shown that even as little as 2 minutes of standing can reduce some of the effects of sitting for too long. Even if your time in the office doesn’t change, there are plenty of things you can do to reclassify yourself from sedentary to active. It isn’t hard to change your habits for the better. In addition, you can also find things such as a static hair brush by visiting the site and by doing your research. Make sure to read the research and choose the brush that is best suited for your daily needs.