Did you know that you could actually be putting your life at risk if you spend long hours sitting at your desk? According to a recent survey that was conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who spend a large amount of time sitting in one place may be at a 90% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who lead an active lifestyle. In addition, sedentary people have an 18% higher chance of developing heart disease or cancer and 24% higher chance of dying from alternative causes.
The bad news is that even those avid computer users who do partake in daily exercise of 30 minutes are not undoing the negative effects of prolonged periods of time sitting in one position. Combine this with research findings from the American Heart Association, which found that the number of people working in sedentary jobs has increased by a massive 83% since 1950, and the picture is pretty bleak.
Prolonged sitting at work is a global problem that is unlikely to improve anytime soon. So what can you do to incorporate movement into a sedentary job to reduce the damaging effects prolonged periods of sitting will have on your health?
1. Use a standing workstation. It may not sound particularly comfortable, but standing at your desk for some periods during the day will reduce the negative consequences of desk work. Invest in a decent stand-sit work desk solution so that you can switch between standing and sitting in accordance with your comfort needs.
2. Stand while talking. If you don’t want to go the whole hog and work in a standing position, make sure you take regular breaks from sitting. One way of achieving this could be to stand every time you are talking on the phone. You may also wish to stand while working on brainstorming activities or while engaged in group workshops.
3. Stretch regularly. According to the experts, it can be unhealthy to remain in a single posture for more than 30 minutes. If you feel your muscles tightening, stand up and give your body a stretch. The Mayo Clinic have published a handy guide to office stretches that workers can complete while engaged in other tasks such as filing, getting water, or collecting mail.
4. Get your posture right. Complete a workplace assessment to test the extent to which your seating and working position are ergonomic. Identify any areas of weakness and make the appropriate changes immediately. Make sure you regularly reposition your keyboard and display so that you can automatically change your posture.