Your office chair is trying to kill you.
Well, alright, I’m being a bit dramatic there. But the truth is that sitting for extensive periods of time can be really harmful to your health. In fact, studies have shown that people who spend a large part of their day sitting have about double the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems compared to more active people. Add on top of that the aches and pains that can be caused by bad ergonomics at your desk, and having an office job can start to sound downright dangerous! But there are a few things you can do to keep active while you’re at work, and they don’t have to be as strenuous as going to the gym. Every little bit of activity helps.
Get Up and Move
The simplest thing to do to improve your health at the office is to get out of your chair whenever you can. Sure, we’d all love a treadmill desk, but if you can’t get the boss to spring for one, just do simple things like standing up to stretch every hour or so. When you get to your office, park farther away from the building so you have to walk farther, then take the stairs instead of the elevator (maybe just for a few floors if you work in a tall office tower). Use the bathroom on the other side of your floor instead of the one right near your office. And consider using your lunch break to take a walk around the parking lot, around your floor, or up and down the stairs; you might even be able to recruit some coworkers for company and make a daily habit of it.
Shape Up While You Sit
Of course, most of the day, you’ll still have to sit at your desk to do your job. But there are still some things you can do, even while you’re sitting down. Try these ideas:
- Sit up straight and lift one leg at a time, holding it up and tightening your leg muscles for a few seconds. This will help get the blood flowing and work your quadriceps a bit.
- Lift one foot at a time and use your big toe to trace the letters of the alphabet in the air to improve ankle flexibility and strength.
- Clench your butt muscles for five to ten seconds at a time to give your glutes a workout.
- Strengthen your neck and back muscles by doing arm circles. Just hold your arms out straight (to the sides if you have the space, in front of you or above your head if you have close neighbors) and move them in small circles.
- Bring in an exercise ball to sit on instead of your usual chair to give your core muscles a workout while you work.
With a little effort, your desk job doesn’t have to be a hazard to your health. The fruitcake at the office holiday party, on the other hand … well, that’s another story!