The modern day office environment revolves around desk-based activities, which has increased our sitting/sedentary time, significantly. Adverse effects have been linked to prolonged sitting, and range from spinal degeneration to cardiovascular disease and even increased mortality. Yes, prolonged sitting is a health hazard! Many of us sit 8 + hours per day on average.
Prolonged sitting is referred to as an independent health hazard. So, hitting the gym, eating well, and/or having good posture, is not enough to truly curb the adverse effects of sitting. Only sitting less, will truly help you. In that regard, sitting is like smoking. You can’t truly undo the ill effects of smoking by running on the treadmill. Since for many of us, work is when we sit the most, here are some simple ways to begin moving more and sitting less at work:
Sit to stand desk: The sit to stand desks have been shown to reduce sitting time during the work day, and improve cardiometabolic risks in healthy office workers. This suggests that they are a possible long term intervention in the work environment (Graves et. al).
Reminder Alarm: By setting an alarm on your watch, phone, or computer as a reminder to get up and move around, you can significantly curb your behavior of prolonged sitting. Alan Hedge, a Cornell University researcher, suggests a break from sitting every 30 minutes. He’s proposed the 20-8-2 rule for 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing, and 2 minutes of movement.
Microbreaks (low intensity exercises): Microbreaks can be taken every 30 minutes to create movement and avoid cardiometabolic risks associated with prolonged sitting. Here are some examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCwWOQG_piI
Walking meetings: Instead of your traditional meeting in the office, consider doing a walking meeting with a team member or members. Many great minds have seen the benefits of this, including Steve Jobs, Aristotle, and Charles Dickens to name a few. A 20-30 minute walk is enough to get your heart rate up and get some good points across in your next meeting, as well.
In summary, movement is life! Don’t just sit there!
Chau, Josephine Y, et al. “Desk-Based workers’ perspectives on using sit-Stand workstations: a qualitative analysis of the Stand@Work study.” BMC Public Health, vol. 14, no. 1, 2014, doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-752.
CUergo: Sitting and Standing, ergo.human.cornell.edu/CUESitStand.html.
Graves, Lee E. F., et al. “Evaluation of sit-Stand workstations in an office setting: a randomised controlled trial.” BMC Public Health, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2469-8.
“Walking meetings? 5 surprising thinkers who swore by them.” TED Blog, 30 Oct. 2014, blog.ted.com/walking-meetings-5-surprising-thinkers-who-swore-by-them/.