The average person currently spends around half of their waking day sitting down. Although the health risks of such a sedentary lifestyle are well documented (often leading toobesity, diabetes, various cancers, and heart disease), methods for avoiding these risks are less well-known – and can’t always be overcome by regular exercise outside of work hours.
Long hours spent in chairs is damaging to our bodies, and we can’t necessarily make up for it by going to the gym. So here are 5 ways to make sure you remain healthy and active throughout the day – despite limited desk space!
One of the simplest pieces of advice, but often one of the most difficult to apply, is to improve your sitting posture. Take a deep breath in to fill your chest and hold your shoulders back. This should be the natural position you sit in each day, keeping your back straight and tall, but without straining.
Sitting incorrectly can contribute to a number of chronic conditions, including arthritis, bursitis, and abnormal spine alignment. Sitting hunched over also drains your body of energy, so in order to stay fit, focused, and productive, you need to train your body to sit upright.
Eat and drink right
Diet is the foundation for feeling healthy, relaxed, and productive at work. Focus on eating low sugar and high protein foods – these will maintain your energy levels without stressing your system.
Don’t skip breakfast! Eating a fibre-rich breakfast lowers your metabolism and keeps your energy high throughout the day meaning you don’t end up snacking on fatty foods.
Drink lots of water too (rather than coffee). Not only does this promote weight loss, but it also encourages you to go to the toilet frequently, meaning you aren’t sitting down all day long!
Find ways to alleviate stress
Stress is a major health and safety issue in the workplace, and one of the leading causes of anxiety, depression and other associated illnesses. The most common causes are time pressures and long or irregular hours, so if you want to overcome these, schedule breaks throughout the day in order to walk, stretch at your desk or do a breathing exercise.
Working relentlessly through the day doesn’t do any good to your mental or physical health, so always take time to destress.
Use a standing desk
Many people are not yet convinced of the health benefits outweigh the practicality of a standing workstation yet. Standing up, as opposed to sitting, upregulates your metabolic rate, and also increases the activity of fat burning enzymes. As a result, your risk of obesity and diabetes drops.
If you really find standing all day unpleasant, try to stand for at least a quarter of it – this is the optimal amount of time to reduce obesity, according to the American Cancer Society.
Increase your low-level physical activity
Finally, develop a routine that forces you to move around the office regularly. Some tips include:
- Asking your boss to design an office environment that encourages movement
- Walking around and out of the office every 2-3 hours
- Or take inspiration from Japan and sit on the floor – the act of getting up and down improves strength and flexibility.
Test yourself to see if you can go from sitting to standing position without using your hands – performing this simple trick has been correlated with longer life expectancy!