We all know that being active is an important part of our health. Yet, a large percentage of us spend most of our day sitting at a desk at work. In fact, studies have shown that even active individuals that sit for long periods of the day have an increased risk for diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. We at The Medical Station, want to give you some tips on staying active at work when you need to sit at your desk all day.
Make the Most of your Lunch Break
While your lunch breaks might seem short and precious, it is a great time for you to get in some much needed activity half-way through your day. Try going on a short walk or run at the beginning of your break. It’ll work up an appetite and may even get you to make a more health-conscious lunch choice . You could also try splitting up your lunch break so you instead get shorter breaks throughout the day to break up the time you need to be sitting.
Take Breaks and Stretch!
A study published in 2013 suggests that you should be taking a 5-minute break from sitting at least every half an hour. This could mean as little as just standing up or taking a short walk around the office. However, if you want some great relief for stiff muscles, there are some stretches you can do to relieve the stress. Your hip-flexors get a lot of the brunt from your long days of sitting so stretching them is vital. Also, as you are sitting, there is a compression of your spinal cord which can give you back and neck stiffness (especially if you are sitting with bad posture). There are lots of hip flexing and spine stretching exercises you can do including lunging, touching your toes and slowly rolling head. You may feel that you look silly but trust us, you will reap the benefits later.
Take Every Chance You Get to Move
One of the chief excuses people use to avoid being more active at work is that they are too busy! But, the reality is that in most cases swapping a sedentary activity for an active one will take little to no more time. Instead of calling or emailing a coworker from your desk, walk over and talk to them. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, even just for a floor or two and it might even save you some precious minutes in your day. These swaps seem simple but they can really make a difference in your health and well-being. You can even simply stretch your legs or roll your ankles while you are sitting.
Make a Difference in Your Office
If you are feeling the burden of sitting at your desk all day, it’s likely you are not the only one. Bring this issue up to your manager and suggest some well-thought up ways to increase activity in the office, and your co-workers will probably thank you. We’ve even thought up some ideas you could pitch to get everyone on their feet
- Rearrange the office so you are forced to get up and walk to things like the printer or the washroom. Changing the scenery may even bump up office morale
- Start using the “walking meeting”. If you have something to discuss with your co-worker or boss, talk about it as you take a walk outside or around the building. The increased heart rate increases your blood pumped to the brain and may even allow you to be a more effective employee while you’re staying active
- Use office incentives to keep each other motivated to take an activity break or take the stairs
- Designate a stretching area of your office that is private so everyone can feel comfortable stretching their muscles without any strange looks
- Look into “Standing Desks” which you can buy or make yourself, if your office permits
We know it can be difficult to balance a healthy lifestyle and a full-time job. The Medical Station hopes that you take some of our tips and use them to make small changes in your day-to-day life. If you have found that sitting at your desk has caused you pain or decreased your mobility, consider consulting a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or Massage Therapist. You can book an appointment with one of these Allied Health Specialists online or by calling us at 416-633-2345.
This article was written by Hailey Adler, one of our Summer Administrative Interns. Hailey received a BSc. from the University of Guelph and is attending Queen’s University for a Masters of Anatomical Sciences. She is passionate about all things medical related as well as nutrition and cancer research.