The alarm buzzes too early in our big beautiful homes that we have worked hard to afford. We pound coffee and hop in the car to sit in traffic for 30 minutes (or more) – because as luck would have it, our big beautiful neighborhoods are never near our workplaces… we sit at our desks and the internet takes us around the world to do our jobs without having to move an inch… we sit at our favorite cafes for lunch… we sit again at our desks for 4-5 more exhausting hours… we get in our cars and sit our way home… where we crash on the couch and zone out in front of the TV before turning in.
This is how the white collar American Dream pans out in our day-to-day, hour-by-hour lives. The average office worker can sit for up to 8 hours or more.
Researchers have linked sitting too much and exercising too little with a number of health issues, including obesity, cancer and heart failure. Even for those of us who do get in our 30-60 minutes of cardio, it is not always enough to counterbalance the fact that we get paid to be largely [no pun intended] sedentary. Unfortunately, studies show that men and women who exercised regularly still risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones.
Think about how much you sit throughout the day. We sit to eat breakfast, to drive to work, at our desks, on our drive home, while eating dinner, then while watching television or using a computer at home. It’s very easy to sit too much, but to reduce our risk of health problems, it’s important to be aware of how much you’re sitting and incorporate more movement throughout the day.
Too much sitting can indeed be bad for you, but if your job requires you to be behind a computer screen for much of the day [*cough* ME *cough cough*], what can you do?
Here are some tips:
1. Break it Up: Experts suggest getting up from your desk to move about every 30 minutes if possible. Set your phone to remind you.
2. Create a Schedule: You schedule work meetings, doctor appointments, dinner with friends: why not exercise? It’s easier to stick to an exercise routine if you schedule it and put it on a calendar. First record all of your obligations for the week: meetings, kids’ activities, medical appointments then look for the blocks of time you have left open. This is where you should schedule your daily exercise.
3. Get Moving, At Work: Take a walk at lunch. Use the stairs. Stand during phone calls. Walk to a colleagues desk instead of calling or emailing. Eat lunch away from your desk. Drink more water, filling your water bottle and trips to the bathroom get you moving!
4. Sit in Your Chair Properly: When you ARE sitting, make sure you’re doing it the right way. Your chair provides support for you throughout the day, so your desk chair should be at the proper height to reduce strain on your back and neck. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees level with your hips at a 90° angle. If your chair does not offer lumbar support, put a pillow or a cushion between the curve in your lower back and the back of the chair.
5. Get Moving, Outside of Work: On average, men and women report that after work, they watch television for roughly 2.5 hours a day that’s more sitting! Getting up off the couch and doing any activity is good. Take a walk around your neighborhood, do household chores, really anything that gets you moving. Some activity is better than none, and more is better than less.
6. Desk Exercises: You can do you can do stretching, muscle-strengthening, and even aerobic exercises right at your desk. Try these the next time you’re at work:
Run: Run in place for 60 seconds.
Football Drill: Tap your feet in place while seated for 30 seconds, 3 to 5 times.
Calf Raises: Stand in front of something you can hold on to for balance. Raise your heels of the floor and slowly lower them. Do 20 reps.
Boxing: Stand up and take jabs at the air for 30 seconds.
Jumping Jacks: They’re not just for kids! Do 60 seconds worth.
Push-Ups: Put your palms on your desk, with your feet together a few feet behind you. Lower down to the edge of the desk and push back. Do 15 reps, 2 times to start.
Stretching: Use stretching techniques to prevent stiffness in your neck, shoulders, arms and wrists.
Seated Leg Raises: Tone your leg muscles by sitting up straight and raising each leg up and down in a slow, controlled manner for 15 to 20 reps, followed by a 15 to 20 second hold at the top.
Desk Tricep Dips: Turn facing away from your desk and reach behind you to place your hands on the desk. Keeping your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, slowly lower your body down, keeping your elbows facing back. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps.