Don’t be Another Casualty of the 21st Century’s Next Disease….Sitting is the New Smoking

Sitting is the new smoking…no matter how you look at it, it’s bad for your health. Most employees’ sit for long periods of time at a desk, commuting (sitting) or sitting in airports and on planes. When you factor stressful days into the high inactivity levels, many people experience, the population begins to experience both physical and mental tolls on their bodies.   Research shows that exercise is proven to relieve the stress of physical inactivity and also improve people’s moods and function. The following list has some simple, powerful changes you can make throughout the day to boost your mood and metabolism, while creating new healthier lifestyle habits.  Take a deep breath, relax, and read on!

 

The following tips are inexpensive ways that employees may reduce the risks of sitting all day.  Don’t be a 21st century casualty of sitting.

 

1) Walk for 15 minutes:

Make time for a 10-15-minute walk outside!  Schedule the time, every 2 hours on your calendar and set a reminder on your device and computer. Use your break time to unplug and disconnect from technology and reconnect to your mind.  These breaks may lead to breakthroughs and better performance.

 

2) Use a stability ball as a chair:

Stability balls are filled with air and come in sizes 45cm, 55cm, and 65cm, depending on your height.  Sitting an hour a day on a stability ball can help improve balance and improve the strength and integrity of your abdominal muscles.  These muscles become engaged from sitting on the ball, to keep the ball from rolling away underneath you.  Sitting on this type of “seat” also forces your postural muscles to work rather than slouch. Stability balls may help relieve back pain.

3) Ask for a standing desk:

On average, employees spend 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desks.  This makes the recommended 1-hour a day of activity hard for most people and it’s been shown that prolonged sitting can affect mental well-being too1. Standing desks are now widely available and encourage more movement, which is good for your joints, muscles and mind.  A recent study on standing desks concluded that “individuals that have the opportunity to stand throughout the day can operate at higher productivity levels than those that do not have the capability to stand while working.”

 

4) Get some face time:

Every few steps count, so when you need to communicate with a co-worker, get up and make every effort to speak with them face-to-face. The social interaction will also boost your mood.  The more you get up the better, since you are firing your muscles simply by standing up and walking. In fact, try this to fire your muscles throughout the day:

  1. Put your chair up against a wall
  2. Stand 1-2 steps in front of your chair
  3. Exaggerate the motion of pushing your “rear-end” back towards the chair
  4. Sit back into the chair, just enough that your rear-end touches the seat
  5. Stand back up and repeat up to 20 times
  6. Try this once every hour and by the end of the day, you’ll have done 140 squats

 

 5) Don’t Hunch

Hunching strains areas including your shoulders, lower back, neck, and wrists. Be aware of where your body is in space and continuously use small movement exercises to bring your shoulders down and back.  Set your computer at the right height allowing you to relieve pressure on your neck from looking down all day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counteract hunching with this exercise throughout the day to reduce shoulder/neck pain:

“Find a blank section of wall and stand tall up against it, with your heels touching it. Make sure that your shoulder blades and bottom are in contact with the wall. There should be a gap between your lower back and the wall, to keep its natural arch. Now try to place the back of your head against the wall by tilting your chin downwards slightly. Imagine a piece of string pulling the back of your hair up. Stand here for 30 seconds and then step away, maintaining this newly straightened posture.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

6) Lunch time is valuable time:

First off, take lunch and use this time as an opportunity to move and socialize. Instead of eating lunch at your desk, now that the weather is nice, be creative find a spot outside, walk to a nearby local lunch spot, or grab a friend,eat in the lunch room, and then walk around the neighborhood the other 35 minutes.  A more advanced option is to take an exercise class during lunch and eat at your desk later.

 

7) Step It Up:

You’ve heard this before, so we’ll say it again! If given the option between stairs and an elevator, take the stairs.  You could even take the ½ and ½ route, elevator ½ way up and walk the rest of the way.  Another option, walking meetings around the corridor or a few laps around the building.

 

8) Don’t Forget to Walk, Set an Alarm:

If you have a smartphone, put it to good use and schedule movement breaks. For every 90-120 minutes of sitting, use your alarm to remind you it’s time for your 10-15 minute break (from step 1)  This should encourage you to take at least 3 movement breaks a day, one in the morning, one early afternoon, and one late afternoon.

 

The bottom line is that sitting is the new smoking and employees need to counteract the effects prolonged sitting has to their health each day.

 

Incorporate any or all of these ideas into your day and your body and mind will thank you. For more tips, sign up for information at randi@randidukoff.com

 

Resources

British Psychological Society (BPS). “Office workers spend too much time at their desks, experts say.” Science Daily. Science Daily, 15 January 2012. 

Standing Desk Study; Huffington Post

Best Posture Exercises; The Guardian

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