If you are like many employees, you spend a good deal of your work day sitting at a desk or cubicle. In recent studies, sitting has been compared to the health risks of smoking. Researchers have linked that sitting for long periods of time can cause a variety of health concerns from increased blood pressure, excess body fat, and high cholesterol levels.
Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:
- A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
- About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack
The increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure.
Sitting in front of the TV isn’t the only concern. Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What’s more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk.
Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.
- Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
- If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
Better yet, think about ways to walk while you work:
- Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
- Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.
The impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound. For starters, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy.
Even better, the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.
Here are some exercises/stretches that you can perform at your desk throughout the day.
- Push-ups- you can utilize your desk if it is stabilized to plant your hands on top of the desk with your thumbs around the edges and perform a push-up. A good place to start would be to 15 to 20 push-ups 2 times a day.
- Desk dips- face away from your desk with your hands on the edge, palms are flat, fingers gripped around the edge of the desk. Elbows should be at 90 degrees and legs are bent and slowly allow your body to descend 3 to 4 inches. Pushing through your palms and extending your arm back to the start position. This is a great exercise for your triceps.
- Leg Raises- Sit on your chair and with your legs bent to a 90 degree angle, extend one leg for 30 repetitions and hold each rep for 1 second at the top of the extension. Perform 20 repetitions per leg and do this 3 times a day.
- Side Leg Raise- Stand next to your desk with feet together, standing completely upright. Take the leg that is the furthest away from the desk and extend it laterally as far as you can without leaning over. Once extended, hold the leg for 1 sec before slowly bringing it back down. Perform 20 each leg and this is great for your abductor and adductor muscles.
- Invisible Chair Squat/Regular Chair Squat- They work best if you lower your seat as far as it will go. Stand in front of your chair with your feet a hip’s width apart. Place your hands on your hips and lower your butt until it’s just above the seat. Then sit down as slowly as possible. Do 20 repetitions. To make it harder, reach your hands overhead as if you were holding a beach ball. If you’re really feeling steady, try it on one leg. If this exercise is to advanced for you, you can try just standing up and sitting down out of your chair, pushing through the heels of your feet and maintaining good posture.
- Carpal Tunnel Reliever- Stand at your desk, and, arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch (you won’t have to go far). Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.
- Shoulder Spin- A good move for flexibility. Sit tall in your chair and reach your left hand behind your back, between your shoulder blades, palm out. Then reach your right hand up toward the ceiling, bend it down, and try to touch your left hand. If you can reach it, great: Hold for 10 seconds. If not, grab onto your shirt and keep practicing. Switch arms and repeat.
- Feet up Hamstring Stretch- To ease the hamstrings, lower back and calf muscles, push your chair away from your desk and put a leg up on the desk. (Ladies, try this on a day you’re not wearing a skirt.) Flex your foot and lean forward slightly over your leg while keeping your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Point your foot, lean and hold for five seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
If you partake in the exercises/stretches above you will notice an increase in strength and flexibility, but it will also make your work day go much faster. Performing some form of movement throughout the day will stimulate neurological function allowing you to think more clearly and increase your productivity level. If you have questions or would like Xcellerated Speed Training to come to your workplace, please contact us at 610 334-4120. We offer a variety of Corporate Wellness options with everything from facility design, group fitness classes, health assessments, lunch-n-learn seminars, or even treadmill desks.