There is nothing quite as satisfying as working in an environment that triggers creativity and feasts on innovation. But sometimes that environment is also pretty sedentary.
A study published in the Washington Post shows Americans spend approximately 10 to 13 hours sitting at a desk each day. But scientists revealed we should be standing for two hours each day, with a goal to stand for a total of four hours each day.
There’s a valid reason to be concerned. Experts say prolonged sitting accounts for an increase in a variety of health concerns. James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. at the Mayo Clinic says that research has linked prolonged sitting to cases of obesity and metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease–even cancer. That’s enough to make you sit up straight with concerns.
We can’t quit our jobs; We like the idea of being able to pay our bills. But we can make adjustments in how we spend our day that can contribute to better health.
Here are four ways we can stay healthy at a desk job.
1.Conduct stand-up meetings (literally).
What was originally designed as a major time saver, the stand-up meeting also provides an opportunity to keep the blood flowing while avoiding more time sitting in an office chair. “I’ve found that standing up during my meetings provides the right healthy balance between standing up and sitting down,” says Forbes contributor Neal Taparia. “By standing up during my meetings, I’d like to think I’m getting the health benefits while also running more effective meetings.”
2. Schedule lunch-hour exercise
Sometimes you just need to get out and stretch. Walking, for example, has incredible health benefits that can prevent heart disease, improve your mood, decrease your blood pressure, and strengthen your bones. “A positive work-life balance is important to me and our company,” says Ryan Westwood, CEO of Simplus. “And that includes exercise. Employees can run errands or just enjoy a walk right outside the front door.” Feeling good is an essential part of working, especially in tech. Westwood understands that sharp minds need healthy bodies to function fully, so he encourages employees to stay active throughout the day.
3. Change up your seating arrangement
Office equipment has come a long way from the drab desk and straight-backed chair. Now, modern designs offer ergonomic and therapeutic designs that allow employees to stand or sit, depending on need. Some models even offer a nice massage.
Other workers are having a ball by dumping the chair. “By sitting on a stability ball (as opposed to an office chair), you’ll need to engage your core in order to sit straight,” says contributor Jennifer Parris. “That helps build up your abdominals, and help you gain better posture, too—all while sitting and doing your work.”
4. Monitor your time.
It’s easy to lose track of the time we spend sitting at a desk or working in front of a computer monitor. Although the number of breaks needs throughout the day may vary, timing is important. Studies show that the more hours that pass without taking a break, the less energized workers feel, and the more likely signs of poor health will surface in workers.
“In the sports arena, coaches rest their best players so that they’ll be at peak performance during critical times, says John Trougakos, associate professor of management at the University of Toronto, who researches work recovery. “Workers and their employers should be planning breaks, too.”
We need our jobs, but that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice our health. By balancing our time standing and sitting, utilizing free time for exercise during the day, adjusting our desk to be more comfortable and taking frequent breaks, we can give 100 percent to our jobs without compromising our health.
This article was originally published by the Daily Herald.