Many of us, regardless of the industry we work in, sit a lot. It could be that you sit all day at work, or that you sit on the couch and watch TV when you come home… or maybe you do both. Regardless, we’re suffering from a “sitting epidemic.”
It doesn’t matter how healthy you eat or how often you’re working out at the gym, sitting is still having a negative effect on us. There was a study published in the International Journal of Obesity which focused on how desk jobs are bad for both our heart and waistline. It linked excessive sitting to increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and weight gain.
If you work at a desk job and then go to the gym in the evening, that’s great and you’re already way ahead of the game, however, it may not be enough. Rather than sit for a long time and then do a burst of activity afterward, what if you could find a way to incorporate more standing and movement throughout your day in between all that sitting?
Did you know that you should try to stand and move for 5-10 minutes out of every 30-60 minutes of being seated? Now, I know what you’re likely thinking: “But how do I do that and still get work done?” Don’t worry, I have a few suggestions.
Here are a few ideas to sneak more movement into your day (and none of them require spending money!):
- Walk and talk – If you talk on the phone over the course of the day, can you do it while walking around? Try using a Bluetooth earpiece or headset to make it easier on yourself, and even if you’re in a small space, you can still pace around in small circles or back and forth (but maybe tell your co-workers what you’re doing first!). Additional bonus: standing or walking while on the phone naturally makes your voice sound more upbeat and happy to those on the other end of the line.
- Find ways to increase the distance on regular routes – Walk around the block or to the end of your street instead of just going straight out to your mailbox to get the mail, walk all the way around the office when going to the copy machine or bathroom, or if you work from home, try to work further away from places like the kitchen or bathroom. Get creative and see if you can sneak in more movement when you were already going to get up anyways.
- Change your desk from sitting to standing – There are options like height-adjustable desks, and even treadmill desks on the market, however, they can come with pretty hefty price tags. You could transition to a strictly standing desk, but there are also studies that say that standing too much isn’t good for you either. So how do you find the healthy balance? You could keep a stack of books close by and put your laptop on that when you want to transition to standing, or you could purchase a product called an “Oristand” which is a $29 cardboard standing desk converter. With these options, you can balance your desk time between sitting and standing (just be sure it’s the proper height for you).
- Set a movement timer – Using your phone or alarm clock, set a timer every hour to take five minutes and get moving. Climb up and down stairs, do some dynamic stretches, go for a quick walk… whatever you can do for five minutes that moves you around! If you work 8 hours each day, and you move around for 5 minutes every hour, that’s an additional 40 minutes of movement in your day, without much extra effort on your part!
- Focus on movement-effective vs. time-efficient – Can you take longer to do things? For example, rather than bring all your groceries in from the car in one trip, consider taking them in one at a time, or, when folding laundry, put away one item of clothing at a time, rather than carrying it all and putting it away at once. I know you’re busy and you want to do tasks in the least amount of time, but this will benefit your health in the long run. Think about the other things you bundle in order to save time, and see if you can spare the additional extra minutes for your health.
- Move while waiting – Have an upcoming appointment? See if you can move around while listening for your name to be called. Practice balancing on each foot, walk around the waiting room, or if possible, do things like lunges, squats, calf raises, knee hugs, etc. At the very least, stand up tall and wait, rather than sit or lean on a post.
These are just a few ways that you can be more active, without having to take up too much extra time or spend any additional money. Wear a fitness tracker like a Fitbit and monitor your steps, and see if you can get your family, friends, and co-workers involved as well.
Get creative here and have fun! Now, I’m going to get up off this chair and go for a 5-minute walk!