It’s one of the most common workplace activities. You sit at your desk, in your comfortable chair, and type away on your keyboard, staring into your monitor for hours and hours on end. But what you may not realize is that every day, for at least 8 hours a day (more if you continue the pattern at home!) you are doing an immeasurable amount of damage to your body.
Recent studies by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine have shown that sitting is heavily linked with obesity and increases the risk of death by diabetes, heart disease, and many other illnesses. And the worst part is that even if you exercise an hour a day, it’s not enough to undo the damage of sitting all day.
Here are some things you can do to break up this deadly work habit.
Drink a lot of water
Water is a healthy alternative to coffee and soda. It helps your metabolism, and doctors recommend at least 8 cups of water a day for a healthy diet. Aside from all that, water also helps you break up your sitting habit.
Drinking a lot of water at work means you’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom more regularly than you normally do. This automatically increases the amount of time that you are active, and gives you a chance to stretch your legs and move around. If you’re the type of person who tends to forget that they’ve been sitting at a desk for hours on end, then drinking lots of water will make your own body remind you to get up.
Get up and take a walk at least once an hour
Taking a five minute break every hour or so to walk outside or around the office is a great way to be more active. It breaks up the hours of sitting with a healthy activity, and will even help you get over some other common causes of workplace discomfort, like eye strain from staring at your monitor for too long.
If you’re worried about productivity, use your walking time to brainstorm ideas and solve work problems. Use your phone’s voice recorder or bring along a notepad to jot down notes as you walk. It’s a good way to break up the monotony of your desk and can help you figure out the answers to questions you otherwise wouldn’t have, all while being healthier and more active.
Buy an activity tracking wearable device
Choices for activity trackers are endless these days. You can buy wristbands, clip-ons, smartwatches, and many other form factors from various wearable technology companies like FitBit, Jawbone, or Misfit. Activity trackers help you set and track daily activity goals like walking 10,000 steps, being active for 30 minutes, or burning a set amount of calories. The trackers then remind you on a daily basis to be more active and keep you updated on your progress as you go.
They’re unobtrusive, easy to wear, and come in many fashionable options, so you won’t have to worry about a bulky and uncomfortable device around your wrist or attached to your clothes. Investing in an activity tracker is a great way to create the habit of a more active lifestyle, both at work and at home.
Get a standing desk
Standing desks are the go-to remedy for the sitting problem by modern startups and technology companies, and some of the old corporations are beginning to catch on as well. These desks are easily and quickly adjustable to go from sitting to standing mode, and give you the option to stand up while you work, which is a lot healthier than sitting.
Standing desks can either come as full desks, or as separate smaller platforms that have adjustable legs that can be placed on your own desk. The latter is obviously the cheaper option, and some high quality standing desks go for as little as $30. You’ll feel the effect of the standing desk on your quality of life at work on day one. At that price point, getting one is a no brainer.
Ask your HR representative
Sitting too much is a legitimate human resources concern that is being treated as a health risk to employees. It can decrease productivity, cause bad moods around the office, and lead to an unhealthy workforce. Companies and human resources departments are investing a lot more money now than ever before on the health of their workers, and along with that comes investment in things like wearable technology and standing desks.
Ask your HR representative if they have money in the budget, and cite your concerns and symptoms as reason for asking. They may either buy you the items you request, or they might even go a step further and sign a company-wide contract for standing desks and activity trackers. It’s a great way to save some money by not having to buy the items yourself.