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.
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?