Spending too much time sitting down can have detrimental effects on your health.
Whether at work or at home, many people spend most of their day sitting. This sedentary behavior may cause increased health risks, since more time spent sitting down is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and early death. Luckily, introducing more physical activity into your life doesn’t have to be a hassle.
Working Activity Into Your Workday
For many office workers, spending the day at a desk while staring at a computer screen—moving around for only a handful of breaks to go to the restroom or eat lunch—is the norm. While staying on top of your workload is important to staying employed, incorporating movement into your workday is vital to staying healthy. There are many ways you can make physical activity a priority at work.
- Talk with your employer about instituting a workplace wellness program that encourages physical activity during the workday and access to perks like walking paths and group exercise activities. Focus on the positive effects physical activity may have for the company, such as a healthier workforce with lower healthcare expenses, increased productivity, better recruitment prospects and higher morale among staff.
- Use the stairs whenever possible. Skip the elevator and try to find other ways to work extra steps into your day. Parking farther from the building or taking the long way to your cubicle can limit the amount of time you spend sitting.
- Walk everywhere, whenever you can. Take meetings and phone calls while walking, walk to coworkers’ desks to ask questions instead of using email and take breaks to walk around the block if your employer allows it.
Break From the Binge
With many cable and streaming services promoting the “binge” model of television consumption, viewers are spending more time on the couch after work and less time moving around. Instead of leaving the living room during commercial breaks or engaging in other activities while waiting for the next week’s premiere, viewers can now watch multiple episodes in a row without even pressing a button. Autoplay features on many apps encourage this unhealthy behavior. Make an effort to break up your next viewing session with the following tips.
- Take 10 minutes between episodes to go for a brisk walk and digest what you’ve viewed. After three episodes, you will have completed a 30-minute workout. Mix it up with exercises like pushups to incorporate strength training into your viewing schedule.
- Savor the show by only watching one episode at a time. Spreading out your viewing allows more opportunities for physical activity while making sure you won’t have binger’s remorse from devouring an entire series in a weekend.
- Stay active by viewing your favorite series at the gym or while jogging in place at home. Be a hot potato, not a couch potato.
While staying active during your daily routine is important for your physical health, physical activity can do more than keep you fit. Endorphins from exercising can help enhance your mood and may even help with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Some Workers Need to Sit Down
Certain occupations in retail, restaurant and service industries require their employees to stand for long periods at a time. While sitting down for too long can be a health concern, too much time spent standing may also pose health risks.
A recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workers who spend most of their time standing were associated with a higher risk of heart disease than their sitting worker counterparts. The risk of heart disease for standing employees in the study were double that of workers who spent most of their time sitting.
Try to find ways to incorporate both sitting and standing into your everyday job routine by talking with your employer, utilizing desks and desk attachments that convert from standing to sitting positions, and taking time to walk or sit as necessary.