How to avoid sitting too much if you have a desk job
For those of us with desk jobs, the day can include a lot of sitting. We know sitting isn’t great for our health, but is it really that bad? Is there anything we can do to fix it? Jennifer Lee, FNP, explained how to avoid sitting too much if you have a desk job and offered ways to fit more movement into your busy workday.
Why is sitting bad for your health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 2 adults don’t get enough aerobic physical activity, which can increase risk for health problems such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
“Obviously being sedentary is not good for your heart health,” Lee said. “We’ve got to keep moving. That means different things to different people depending on their level of health, but there’s always room for improvement.”
The recommendation is for 150 minutes of low to medium intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. This can seem difficult if most of your day is spent sitting at a desk, but Lee said there are ways to be more active at work.
How to be more active at work
Lee offered these tips to help you sit less during the day.
- Stretch your legs. Try to stand at least once per hour, even if it’s only for 60 seconds. This is enough time to stretch your legs and walk around your chair.
- Use stairs instead of the elevator. Every step you make up and down is good movement for your heart.
- Use a standing desk. Standing helps with circulation, which is good for your cardiovascular system. Try standing during calls, but only do it for as long as it remains comfortable.
- Walk during breaks. Go for a walk at lunch or to your coffee break. Try to routinely schedule these breaks so it becomes a habit. If you’re lucky enough to live close to work, you can even try walking or riding a bike to work.
- Get your work buddies involved. Try having walking meetings or go on outings that involve activity. You could even start a walking competition to see who can get the most steps in a day.
Find time for activity outside of work
Moving as much as you can during the workday is helpful, but it’s important to try to fit in some time for vigorous exercise.
“Your heart needs exercise and conditioning just like any other muscle or organ within the body, so try to walk at a faster pace,” Lee said.
Other forms of vigorous exercise include running and dancing. If you don’t have a lot of time, these short bursts of vigorous exercise can be effective and still help you avoid sitting too much during the workday.
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