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Top Tips To Get Moving At Work

Image of Michelle Farnsworth
Michelle Farnsworth

 

If you’re like me, you just hate it when someone comes to you and asks, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Well, what if I don’t want to hear the bad news at all? Ever?

I guess if there is simply no way around it then I’m the type of person who likes to end on a positive note, so I opt for the rotten news first.

So, let’s start there.

The bad news?

Over 80% of the American workforce has a sedentary job that leaves them sitting at a desk nearly all day long!

Sound familiar?

The harsh reality is that the daily grind of inactivity also leads to some very serious and potentially long-term health problems. As if the lack of movement weren’t punishment enough on it’s own, some of these chronic conditions caused by lack of movement include:

  • Wrist Problems – Repetitive stress injuries (RSI), such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Eyestrain – Dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches
  • Certain Cancers – Such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer
  • Heart Disease

The Scenario

Take this scenario, found on Lifehacker.com. There they map out the effects that sitting for over six hours per day will have on a person who starts out as relatively healthy (defined as someone who is not overweight, who does not drink excessively, and who does not smoke).

Sitting in an office chair (or on your couch for that matter) for over six hours a day increases your risk for heart disease by up to 64 percent. 64 percent!

, So, what’s going on physiologically?

Immediately after sitting down, the electrical activity in your muscles slow down and your calorie-burning rate drops to approximately 1/3 of what it would be if you were walking.

Ok, no big deal. Yet

Sitting for an entire 24-hour period will cause your body to experience a 40 percent drop in glucose uptake in insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

After just five days of living the overtly sedentary lifestyle, your body increases LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), insulin resistance, and plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules). In layman’s terms, this means your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at an increased risk for weight gain. Muscle atrophy and a drop in maximum oxygen consumption start after two weeks, which is what makes stairs more difficult to climb.

Long-term effects of sitting for six plus hours a day are subtly being made apparent after only one year. Studies for women suggest they can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass, and men and women alike can experience high cholesterol and weight gain.

And after more than a decade or two of sitting, seven quality years of life can be taken away, your heart disease risk increases by 64 percent, and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases by 30 percent.

Okay, you get the idea…

What’s the good news then?

The truth is, no matter how sedentary your job may appear to be there is some way for you to get your body up and moving throughout the workday, giving your eyes and wrists a much needed break and your body a necessary pick-me-up. According to sports scientist Jack Groppel, “Interspersing short movements and exercises throughout the workday can boost employee energy, engagement, and efficiency.”

But is it really that simple?

It just may be!

Research indicates that breaking up sedentary time with even small bursts of activity – such as simply getting up from your desk and moving around – is linked to a smaller waist circumference and other indicators of good health. Sitting for long periods of time causes your body to adjust to the reduced physical demands, therefore slowing down its metabolism. When metabolism slows, you burn fewer calories and increase your chances that any excess energy will be stored as fat.

When you are upright and active, even if it is only for a short period of time, your body is working to engage a wide range of body systems.

Individual Ideas to Get Moving Throughout the Day

Check out these simple, yet effective, ways you may not have thought about to get yourself up and moving throughout your workday:

  • Always take the stairs
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Drink lots of water (which has a two-fold benefit because it is healthy for your body AND it will force you to get up and use the restroom frequently)
  • Take a walk or jog during your lunch break
  • Do calf and leg-raises while working at your desk
  • Print papers to the farthest printer from your desk
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk rather than emailing them

Company Involvement in Innovative Office Solutions

While making sure you get up and move is largely your responsibility, there are several innovative office solutions that can help take the deliberate thought out of the process:

  • Work at a treadmill desk
  • Work at a standing desk
  • Use an exercise ball instead of a traditional desk chair
  • Use an Apple Watch or other device to get frequent reminders to stand up and get moving
  • Monitor your steps with a step counter and aim to get in at least 10,000 steps per day

By taking these simple steps to a healthier you, you will feel invigorated throughout your life rather than feeling exhausted during the daily grind!


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