Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Health

I read a though-provoking article in the Sydney Morning Herald Last week titled, “Protect Yourself From a New Epidemic:  Sitting.” In the article, writer Paula Goodyer raises the important point that the modern-day office worker is at risk for health concerns such as higher blood sugars and blood fats, among other things.

A “typical American white-collar worker,” I work sit at a desk for about eight hours per day, five days a week.  This is a loooooong time to be sitting down.  I consider myself quite in tune with my body, so I’ve noticed some things over the years of sitting at a desk – sore back, sore wrists, a weaker core, and (slightly) excess belly flab (pathetic, I know!).  Yes, it may sound crazy, but when I’m on vacation for a week doing things other than sitting at a desk, I notice that my belly flab significantly diminishes.  Contrarily, after a month of working 40-50 hours a week in a chair at a desk, I notice a build-up of flab.  Coincidence?  I think not.

As Paula mentions in her article, there aren’t many studies on the correlation between sitting at a desk and health issues because this human position is relatively new.  If you think about the history of homo sapiens, we are not historically sitters.  We were always a much more active species, not too dissimilar from most other animal species.  This whole thing of sitting at a desk for dozens of hours a week can’t be healthy for us. Not in the least.  But, like it or not, it has become “reality” for so many of us.  So what’s there to do?  Here are just a few strategies that I have implemented over my few years as a desk jockey…

STAND – My personal rule is that I stand up whenever I’m on the phone.  Depending on the day, I am on the phone anywhere from 30 minutes to over 3 hours per day.  This rule ensures that I get at least some standing time.

STRETCH – I am fortunate enough to have my own office and my own space.  Twice per day, I take a five minute break from whatever it is that I’m doing and stretch.  My favorite is the Scapular Wall Slide.  If you do it right, this is incredible for loosening up the back.  Watch this video to learn the proper technique.

GET A NEW DESK Height-adjustable desks are becoming more and more popular.  Get your employer (or yourself) to make the investment.  These desks enable you to sit or stand whenever you want.

GO FOR A WALK – At least once a day, go for a short walk, even if it’s to the other end of your building or around the block.  If you can, get outside.  The fresh air will energize and rejuvenate you.  Not only is this good exercise, it’s a great way to perk you up in the afternoon.

These are just a few ways to get out of the saddle and give your back a break.  The point is, keeping your body in one position all day is not good at all.  Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

What do you do to give yourself a break?



Filed under General Health

8 responses to “Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Health

  1. Taking short walks is my everyday exercise routine. Aside from relaxing my mind it also boost my creativity. 🙂

    • thedynamiclife

      Walter that’s a great point. Many people claim that they think of some of their most creative ideas and solutions to problems while running or walking. And I agree. It’s always good to change your environment to allow the creative juices to flow.

  2. alyssa

    Instead of sitting during my entire lunch hour (like I do the balance of my work day), I spend 20 minutes or so eating my lunch and then make it a point to take a walk outside and window shop. I’ve heard replacing your chair with a body ball is another helpful “stay fit” strategy.

    • thedynamiclife

      Good idea with the body ball. I want to try that one out. I suppose the biggest obstacle would be getting past the weird looks from my coworkers!

  3. I always find myself hunching when sitting by my desk. What do you think about those chairs that makes you sit up straight with a good posture? Are they anything to concider?

    • thedynamiclife

      Yes they definitely are. I used to have a big old cushioned desk chair, but I had to give it up because I was constantly hunching over and my back was getting very sore. I traded it in for an ergonomic mesh chair. I can either lock this one in the upright position or unlock it and lean back when I want to do some reading. Regardless of the type of chair you have, it’s important to make sure that it slides under your desk so you can sit upright and type, etc. You don’t want to have to lean forward to reach your keyboard. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees ideally. Hope that helps…

  4. My office has a few printers scattered around our floor instead of everyone having a printer in their office. At first this was annoying but then I realized it allowed me to get up and move around many, many times each day. Maybe not the most efficient set-up but it is good for getting us out of our chairs regularly. I also walk for about 20 minutes each day at lunch.

    • thedynamiclife

      My office has a similar printer set-up, but you’re right, it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand it forces you to get up out of your chair and get the blood flowing, but on the other, it opens you up for distractions from your coworkers. I’ve often found that a 30-second trip to the printer can turn into a 10-minute adventure due to time-sucking coworkers.

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