September 13, 2016
If you have a sedentary job and sit for prolonged periods, you instinctively know that it is bad for your body. You’ve probably even noticed some physical effects already such as a back ache after spending most of your day glued to an office chair. But, most do not likely understand how detrimental it really is to their health. The effects actually range from head to toe and superficial to life threatening:
- Weight Gain
- Increased Risk for Heart Disease
- Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Greater Risk of Cancer
- Poor circulation leading to issues such as varicose veins
- Tight hips
- Soft bones
- Strained Neck and shoulders
- Disc Damage
- Weakened Abdominal Muscles
- Sluggish Brain
Perhaps the most important question is how you can mitigate or prevent these effects while still maintaining the same job type. Below are 6 simple methods that can be used daily by nearly everyone:
The skeletal and muscular system becomes weakened and unbalanced from sitting. This is exasperated further when sitting is done improperly. Here is the correct way:
- Sit up straight and do not lean forward
- Keep feet flat on the floor
- Relax shoulders
- Arms close to your sides with elbows bent 90 degrees
- Support lower back
Walk every half hour
Sedentarism can be reduced significantly by breaking up these periods every half hour and walking for 1 to 3 minutes. An easy way to stick to this schedule is by setting an alarm. There are also apps and devices such as an apple watch that are available to keep you on track.
Exercise before or after work
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the severity of these effects. It still does not come anywhere close to completely eliminating them. Nonetheless, a workout program is essential for staying healthy in any job.
Try to use a combination of weightlifting and cardiovascular activity to guard against all the possible negative physical and mental consequences of sedentarism. For instance, weightlifting will help strengthen muscles, promote greater flexibility, and improve insulin sensitivity while cardiovascular training can release brain nourishing chemicals and increase blood flow. Both will not only boost calorie burn during the workout but in the hours following.
Pace while on the phone
Just as in the case of standing or walking every half hour, pacing whenever possible is another great way to break up long periods of sitting. Usually the best time to do this is while you are on the phone. A cordless headset is a necessity for this type of activity since it will make pacing very comfortable and allow for a farther range of movement.
Exercise briefly at work
You can complete small bouts of exercise at work to strengthen your body and keep blood flowing. The latter will pay huge dividends in mental clarity. You may think working out at work for even a brief period is hard without the resources of a gym but there are actually a surprisingly large amount of exercises at your disposal such as water bottle curls, pushups, and quick double legged jumps in place. Check out our other article for a list of 20 exercises to consider using.
Purchase a standing desk
There are desks that allow you to work in both seated and standing positions. The transition between each position is very simple and quick as well. It is another excellent way to break up long periods of sitting but in this case, you can still work.
Countless people face a myriad of health problems due to their sedentary job and lifestyle. Yet, they don’t have to take it sitting down (pun definitely intended). These 6 methods are a great place to start for prevention. In fact, even if you don’t make major changes, the smallest effort over time may make a significant difference. The potential result is an improvement in your health and happiness, which is well worth it.