Is Your Desk Job Working Against You?

woman stretching at deskBecause you belong to a gym and move your body there, the good news is you’re ahead of the health and fitness game, as opposed to leading a completely sedentary lifestyle.

But what happens the rest of the hours in your days? Working out for an hour is a fantastic choice, but if you’re sitting at a desk for eight hours, are you really ahead?

YES! Better still, you can enjoy the positive effects of exercise after your workout, not just during. That includes a boost to your metabolism and elevation of some feel-good body chemistry.

However, it’s also true that the advantages of your activities might be far outweighed by how inactive you are during all the other hours of your day. Just like our primal ancestors, our bodies have been made to move. But human life has us moving quite a bit less than we used to. The advent of machines has a lot to do with it–from cars to computers to cooktops. It was a lot easier to stay lean back when we had to make fires, build huts, forage for food or run after our prey. The fact that so many of us sit or stand relatively still during our workdays adds even more imbalance.

Think about it–most of your days can break down something like this:

Sleep: 8 hours
Work low-activity job: 8 hours
Commute to/from work: 2 hours
Errands, chores, homework: 2 hours
Self-care & relaxation: 3 hours
Workout: 1 hour

That means that out of 24 hours, unless you work a physically demanding job or ride a bike to work, you’re likely to be fully at rest for 13 hours, and barely moving for another 10. So, what’s a desk worker to do?

Get Up, Stand Up

Studies show that the more we sit, the higher our health risks become. Our metabolisms slow and our body fat increases. But simply standing can double the energy output of your body. In fact, even little movements like chewing, having a conversation or squirming in your seat take more energy than lying flat or sitting still.

Science tells us that the more we use our bodies, the more primed they are, ready to be used. So activate more muscles throughout your day, and you can go a long way to offset the negative effects of your desk job, your reading time, your train ride and your shut eye. One of the simplest choices ever is to get up from your seat more often, and to stand up instead of sit whenever you can.

Stand at work.
  • Get a standing desk.
  • Take the stairs not the elevator.
  • Walk to speak with coworkers instead of sending an email.
  • Get up every hour to stretch your calves, stretch your spine, and breathe deep.
  • Get up every half hour to fill your water bottle, go to the bathroom or file something.

Stand to do everyday tasks.
  • Stand to talk on the phone—when it rings, stand up to answer it
  • Read the morning paper, or your paperback at lunch, while standing
  • Stand while changing the baby, or reviewing kids’ homework after school
  • Instead of driving through, stand in line for banking, food, car washes & coffee run
  • When at a party or meeting friends after work, skip the barstool and stand to mingle

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