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Exercising in a Desk Job


person working at desk while sitting

It’s unhealthy to sit for prolonged periods of time, and doing so can lead to harmful health impacts.  While these health impacts are caused by long periods of sitting, you can actually still combat them at work. (And your coworkers won’t even notice!)

The dangers of sitting 8 hours/ day

Studies have shown that extensive time spent sitting can lead to harmful health impacts such as an increased risk of obesity, a greater chance of heart disease, and unhealthy blood sugar levels.

Going to the gym doesn’t help either… Think about it this way,

  • Morning exercise - 45 minutes
  • Commute to work - 45 minutes
  • Work on a computer - 4 hours
  • Eat lunch - 45 minutes
  • Work on a computer - 4 hours
  • Commute home - 45 minutes
  • Eat dinner - 30 minutes
  • Watch tv/read/computer - 3 hours
  • Bed - 8 hours
13 hours are spent sitting per day

Even when you spend 45 minutes working out each day, you’re still spending over 13 hours each day sitting, alone. Why is this so harmful? You’re altering your metabolism.

Gavin Bradley, director of Active Working, an international group aimed at reducing excessive sitting, explains, “Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent.”

3:1 Rule

Instead of trying to combat an entire day’s worth of sitting in one session, intersperse periods of increased activity throughout your entire day.

In fact, research suggests that no matter what your total time spent sitting is, regularly interrupting your time spent sitting may reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Consider a 3:1 Rule. After 3 20-minute intervals of sitting, get up and stand or walk around for 20 minutes.  Studies have shown that frequent standing breaks can decrease your chances of diabetes.

Stretching at the office

All that time spent staring at a screen causes serious stress on your body. It’s surprisingly easy, however, to stretch right in your desk chair and combat many of those harmful impacts.

Start by sitting up straight in your chair (or better yet, stand up!)

Stretch your neck. Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder until you feel a mild stretch on the left side of your neck. Relax and let your left shoulder drop, then place your right hand on your head and pull down gently. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch your shoulders. Keeping your head and neck stable, slowly roll your shoulders forward, up, and then back to complete a full circle. Repeat 10 times.

Stretch your forearms and hands. Extend your right arm out in front of you with your palm facing forward and your fingers pointed to the ceiling. Use your left hand to stretch your right hand’s fingers and palm back toward you as far as they will comfortably go. Hold that position for 30 seconds.

Stretch your legs. Grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes five times. Release.

Each exercise can be repeated on the opposite side!

 

By sitting throughout your entire workday, you’re negatively impacting your health. Incorporate a variety of exercises into your everyday routine at work.

Even better than exercises, you can utilize tools such as balance boards and footrests to be more active at your desk.

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