If you have a desk job, sitting all day is likely shortening your life. Even if you exercise regularly. What? I thought the well-researched guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week was the goal. How does frequent exercise not offset the effects of sitting in front of my computer, in my car as I commute 40 minutes each way, and screen time on the couch in the evening? The simple answer … our bodies are made for moving, not sitting.
Being Sedentary Is Not Healthy
A 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed 47 studies of sedentary behavior and concluded that being sedentary can lead to cardiovascular issues, cancer, and chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization considers physical inactivity the fourth risk factor for mortality, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.
What can we do about the hours we are not physically active because our work is sedentary? Is taking a break to stand up and walk around for a few minutes an option? It would decrease our productivity, right?
Taking a Break and Its Impact on Health and Productivity
According to Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic, we make a big mistake when we equate sitting in front of our computer screens endlessly answering the stream of emails with productivity. Taking this misperception further, many of us believe the myth that being seen at our desks demonstrates that we are working.
Dr. Levine suggests we take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes because research shows it’s good for our bodies, minds, and productivity. Standing up and moving revs up our metabolic engines, helps control blood sugar, and increases our mental sharpness.
Adding Movement to Your Work Day
What would it take to increase the frequency and duration of your movement during the workday? Can you mix daily wellbeing practices into your professional routine? Here are a few suggestions:
Before sitting down at your desk and diving into the day, walk a lap or two around your building to offset sitting during your morning commute.
Use alarms, apps, and coworkers to remind you at designated intervals it’s time to stand up and move. I particularly like an app called Stand Up! The Work Break Timer.
Use a restroom that is farther away from your office.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Stand at your desk and move around your office while listening to a conference call.
Visually mark the number the of times you take a break so that it’s prominent and motivating (or any other kind of movement you’re tracking during the workday).
Consider walking meetings with a rotating note taker to summarize action items.
I find it’s very easy for a couple of hours to pass without much movement if I haven’t set an intention to stand up and move at least five times a day. How about you? Wellbeing draws upon our inner strength and resources to thrive despite challenges and setbacks.
Let’s take charge of our choices to move more during the workday! Be sure to share any strategies you use to increase your movement during the workday in the comments section below.
I’m Karen Clark Salinas, and it’s my mission to help women live their full purpose (work + family) without sacrificing wellbeing. I want to be the coach I wish I’d had when I was a working mom. Someone to help me get unstuck and live my life more intentionally. Marriage, motherhood, chronic illness, divorce, remarriage, and caring for aging loved ones contribute significantly to my story. I know for sure that, with my support, you can pursue your professional dreams while raising a happy and healthy family.