We have all heard the new phrase “sitting is the new smoking”, but how do we address this issue when 80% of American jobs are sedentary or only require a very limited amount of activity? (NYTimes) The first step is understanding the negative health effects that stem from an overly sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for extended periods of time every day can lead to an increased risk of heart-related issues, and musculoskeletal disorders (i.e. carpal tunnel), (Thrive Global & NYTimes). It can feel like a lost-cause when you do not want to change what you do for a living, but this means you must sit at a desk all day. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to increase your daily activity and keep you from sitting for 8+ hours a day.
The first thing you can do is schedule quick movement breaks every 30 minutes – this is the ideal amount of time you should spend between moving (Washington Post). These breaks do not need to disrupt your work. They can be as simple as walking to the rest room, refilling your water, going to the printer, or walking to speak in-person with a coworker instead of emailing them.
Another activity to incorporate into your day is a scheduled 30-60-minute break midday for physical activity. This could be a brisk walk outside or a visit to a gym close to your office. A good way to hold yourself accountable for these longer breaks is to invite your coworkers and start a group! These walks could be multi-purpose as you can have a “walking meeting” to discuss work related issues. All it takes is one person in the office to start this trend and it can create a healthy ripple-effect (Washington Post).
The final thing you can do to decrease the amount of time you spend sitting every day is to update your workstation with a sit-stand desk. Some employers provide these desks for their employees, but if your employer does not, you can find relatively cheap options that you can bring to your workstation. Ideally, you will start by standing 2 hour a day and work your way up to 4 hours of standing every day (Washington Post).
There are many ways to add more physical activity to your work day to help counteract the negative side effects of a sedentary desk job, and the benefits are vast. From a healthier weight to higher productivity, being an active employee will have positive effects for you and for your employer.