There’s a New Epidemic in Town: Sitting
I know all too well how it feels to get sucked in to the digital vortex that has you sitting for hours on end.
I also used to work the cubicle life so I was not only sitting in front of two giant monitors all day but I was blocked off from the outside world by soft cushy walls!
Isn’t it interesting that cubicle walls are padded? Why do you think that is? Think about it.
As fun as that was (add sarcastic tone), it didn’t take me long before I was literally feeling like the life was being sucked out of me. Like a little bit of my soul was dying everyday.
Ok, I know that sounds a little dramatic but it’s the truth! If you keep reading I’ll tell you why.
If you think about how our bodies are constructed you will probably come to the conclusion that they were meant to move. These arms, legs and other bending parts we have were never meant to sit, still and stagnant for hours on end. The digital era that we are now living in has vastly promoted and enabled a sitting epidemic that has left us flat, flabby and foggy.
One study showed that office workers spend 95% of their time at work sitting and a mind blowing 82% of this time was nearly motionless.(1) It makes me want to run around flailing my arms in the air just thinking about that!
We all know that physical activity is something that should be a part of our day to day routine. Too much sitting around doesn’t just put you at risk for tension headaches and bulging disc but it is now considered as dangerous as smoking! (2) This is huge people!
Ok, enough of the doom and gloom….now on to how you can help yourself avoid being part of these statistics.
How to Stop Sitting Your Life Away
1) At the risk of sounding too obvious…..get up and move! As much as you can. If you need a more definite prescription make it at least once an hour. Walk over to see a friend or go up and down the stairs in your building a few times. Start a challenge in your office (or on your own if you work from home but get a virtual buddy) where every hour on the hour you have to get up and do 10 squats, 10 lungs on each leg and then stretch them out. Get the blood flowing!
I know you already know this but I feel like it’s my responsibility to say it anyways….in your non working hours make sure you are getting a workout in! Whether it’s running, dancing, high intensity interval training, swimming or aerobics….make sure you are getting from 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 times a week. There, I said it.
2) Have a moving meeting. Need to have a chat with a colleague about work related topics. Take it on the go! You can record your conversation on your cell phone and replay it later to go over what was discussed and make notes.
3) Stay hydrated with a small water glass. Why use a small water glass you ask? Well, first of all, using a glass where you can see the water in it, triggers you to drink it and if you are drinking it more consistently and out of a small glass it means it’s going to run out…often. Unless you have one of those automatic water filling glasses…in which case disregard. When your water runs out, get up and go fill it up! If you work in an office where there are multiple places to fill your water, choose the watering hole that is the farthest away.
4) Go outside…this is non-negotiable. Fresh air has so many benefits to your physical and mental health. Being in nature can boost your mental alertness, lower your cortisol levels and heighten your creativity. When you are feeling foggy and unmotivated it’s time to go soak up some vitamin D and fill your lungs with good ol’ air. When I worked in an office I did this at least 3 times a day. I’m pretty sure it’s the single most important reason that I didn’t put those padded cubicle walls to use.
In a 2008 paper describing the promise of nature therapy it was discovered that “when college students were asked to repeat sequences of numbers back to the researchers, they were much more accurate after a walk in nature. This finding built on previous research that showed how nature can restore attention and memory.”(3)
So go outside and you may find that the quality of the work you’re doing improves!
5) Stand up. If you can invest in a standing workstation or a treadmill workstation then I say it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. You can also purchase extensions for your desk now to make your computer capable of being used at standing height without putting too much of a dent in your wallet. When all else fails, use a tall counter top or bar top where you can stand comfortably.
I hope you found some helpful tips to get that body moving!
(1) Nathan Dailey, MD, MPH (2013). The Sitting Sickness: Is It Silently Killing You? (GreenMedInfo LLC, Article/ Blog). Retrieved from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/sitting-sickness-it-silently-killing-you#_edn1
(2) Lauren F. Friedman and Kevin Loria (2014). 11 Scientifically Proven Reasons You Should Go Outside. (Article) Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/11-reasons-you-should-go-outside-2014-4