Written by Katie Brenneman, Guest Writer
If you feel like you spend a majority of your day in a seated position, then you are not alone. In fact, the average adult is seated for over six hours a day, and the reason for the inactivity is often tied to our jobs. Most of our work is done on computers these days, and that means that we sit for hours without realizing the havoc that this lack of activity is having on our health.
Some people may believe that sitting is one of the safest things you can do, but that is far from the truth. By avoiding movement, we are mistreating our bodies, and over time, the health effects can be catastrophic — but all is not lost. Even if you work a desk job, you can get up and make smart choices to protect your body and mind. Let’s talk about some small adjustments you can make today so you will feel better tomorrow.
The Importance Of Movement
In order to understand the importance of prioritizing your health during your workday, it is necessary to learn why a lack of movement is so dangerous in the first place. Several negative issues happen when you sit down all day. For starters, if you don’t move and use your legs often, then the lack of exercise can cause the muscles in your glutes and calves to weaken significantly. Also, when you sit for long periods of time during your workday, blood begins to pool in your lower body, and the result can be unsightly and often painful varicose veins.
If all of that weren’t bad enough, a lack of movement could also lead to very serious health ailments down the road. Our bodies are built for movement, not for inactivity, and if your heart isn’t pumping and your muscles aren’t working as they should, then you increase your chances of contracting ailments like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
That is why it is important that you get up and move around whenever you get a chance. At a minimum, you should take advantage of breaks and lunches and use that time to get out of the house or office and take a walk down the street or through the park. If you have kids at home or you otherwise can’t leave the premises, then there are many exercises that you can do right there at your desk, including leg extensions, toe raises, and tricep dips, among others.
You also have the option to keep your body engaged all day long by opting for a standing desk which is a raised surface that allows you to do all of your computer work while you are on your own two feet. If you work out of an office, then ask HR for permission to get a standing desk, and many times they will comply. By standing all day, you will keep your blood flowing, you’ll reduce back pain, and improve your posture.
Health Issues That We Forget
In the back of our minds, we know that we should be standing more often, but many of us forget about other potential health issues that can happen when we sit all day. For instance, the chance of unintended weight gain becomes a big reality because if we sit at our desks all day, then we are more likely to eat there as well, and if you aren’t typically an active person, then your food choices probably won’t be the best.
On top of that, when you aren’t moving, you aren’t burning calories, so even if you make somewhat unhealthy choices, you will never lose any of the excess weight. So, consider getting up during your lunch, walking to the kitchen, and preparing a healthy meal. A nutritional lunch could include salad or foods rich in protein like fish and chicken, which will give you a good energy boost. You could even take your food to the park and eat while surrounded by the beauty of nature.
We also tend to forget that staring at our computer and phone screens all day can be incredibly harmful to our eyes. After staring at numbers and data on a screen for long periods of time without taking a break, it is not uncommon to experience blurred vision, eye strain, and even nearsightedness. If you work on a computer, then one of your healthy habits should be to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which says that we should stop working every 20 minutes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds straight. That way, we give our eyes time to relax.
You should also consider the benefits of wearing computer glasses. While they won’t improve your vision, these lenses will help to filter out the blue light that our screens emit, so you don’t feel eye strain or dryness as quickly. Computer glasses can be purchased at most retailers, and you do not need a prescription.
Set Yourself Up For Success
While there are many activities that you can do at work, it is also important that you set yourself up for success before you clock in for the day. That starts with prioritizing good sleep. By getting your seven to nine hours of rest at night, you give your immune system time to recover so you don’t get sick as easily, and you’ll also feel more level-headed so you can tackle the work of the day.
If that wasn’t reason enough to get some shut-eye, it has also been found that sleep affects your hormone levels, including the hormones that regulate your metabolism, blood pressure, and heart rate. Failure to get adequate sleep means that these internal systems can be out of whack, which is an issue that can affect your health down the road.
It is also necessary to take care of your mental health. When it comes to your work hours, don’t overdo it. Instead, set up a healthy work/life balance where you start and end your shift at the same time every day so you can get away from the desk and do something that you enjoy. If you find that you are overly stressed at the job, then talk to your manager about adjusting your schedule or workload, so you aren’t overburdened.
As you can see, it is essential that you try everything you can to stay healthy during your workday. Consider the tips discussed here, and you will not only feel better but you may also see improvement in your work performance as well.
About the Author
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.