How to Exercise at Work to Cut Down the Harmful Effects of Sitting

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For the majority of us, sitting down for long periods on a daily basis is inevitable. But more and more scientists are warning us that prolonged periods of sitting each day is having serious ramifications on our health such as obesity, illness, and premature death.

A major Australian study on 222,000 people aged 45+ found that those that sat down for 11 hours or more each day will increase their risk of dying by 40%, over the next three years, regardless of how active they are. The average time spent sitting per day is 9.3 hours which is more than the average time we spend sleeping at around 7.7 hours.

Our bodies were simply just not built to be sitting down for the amount of time we sit per day. The worst thing about these studies is that it is not practical, and near impossible, for most of us to avoid sitting for prolonged periods each day. The standard desk job means that we will be sitting 9am-5.30pm each day with added hours travelling by car and catching a bit of TV at night after a hard day’s work.

So here are some simple exercises you can do at work that could significantly increase your health and life expectancy.

Take the Stairs

The first obvious trick is to take the stairs at every opportunity, as studies have found that walking up flights of stairs daily can have multiple health benefits such as better fitness, less body fat and lower blood pressure.

Sitting Posture

Studies have found that altering your posture while sitting down can do wonders for your back. Sitting at a 135 degree angle is not only more relaxing but puts less strain on your back, compared to hunching forward over your desk or even sitting up straight.

Some workplaces are even using exercise balls as a substitute for chairs. This is because it significantly strengthens your abs and back without any additional effort. Although this might not be practical for your workplace, it could be beneficial for you to use one at home.

Stretching & Moving

It may be worth putting a reminder to walk around the office every hour or to stretch multiple times throughout the day. Walking over to talk to your co-workers to deliver documents and files rather than via email is a great way to break up the amount of time you sit per day. It will also probably give you more time to work having the ability to explain and ask with quick response rather than multiple emails back and forth.

Use a Pedometer

Using a pedometer is a great way to record the number of steps you take per day and what you should aim for. Having this target will make you more likely to walk more to achieve your day’s required amount. As well as a great reminder to exercise, you will also feel better and satisfied by achieving your day’s goals.

Walking or cycling to work is going to significantly increase your health and reduces the amount of time you sit per day too.

Other Minor Exercises

You could use a toilet on a different floor; walk somewhere further away for lunch, exercising at lunch or park on the other side of the car park. These may be a bit impractical for your work again, or seem as if they won’t have much benefit, but they do and are a great way of cramming exercise into your busy schedule at work

Overall just be creative in fitting exercise at work at every given opportunity without having to do shuttle runs across the office floor or vaulting over office partitions.

Adding these short exercises each day will burn calories and break up your sitting down period significantly. Also making your manager aware of the health dangers of prolonged sitting alongside the various productive benefits of a healthier workforce will make it easier for you to exercise at work.