15 November 2013

Integration, Part Two: Stand Up for Yourself

Last week, I introduced the fact that sitting for long periods of time is bad for you. I'm not going to get into all the scary statistics (which are unfortunately backed up by sound medical professionals) because what's done is done at this point. We can't change the hours we spent in front of our workstations, computers and TVs. But we can change the hours we will spend in front of them. 

Riding a bike to work or mixing biking with public transportation is an excellent start. But if you opt out, there are other ways to break the sedentary cycle. One of the easiest ways is taking walking breaks throughout the day. Depending on your workload or how your day is structured, set a timer on your phone for every two hours and get up. Take a ten minute walk around the building. It's as simple as that. 

Or, if you have an area to perform a circuit or two of simple exercises every two hours, that would help as well. For instance, when your two-hour timer goes off, do 10 pushups, then 10 crunches, followed by 10 squats (all of which can be modified to any fitness level.) Repeat that circuit two to three times and stretch a little. Easy peasy. 

Better yet, you can combine the two activities. If you arrive at 8AM, do a small circuit at 10. Then, right before your lunch break, take a ten minute walk. At 2PM do another circuit and at 4, take a brisk walk before wrapping up business for the day. 

Another thing you can do is change the way you sit. Swap your chair for a yoga ball to strengthen your core and perfect your posture. I did this in my bedroom/office recently and it's surprisingly comfortable. 

If you are really serious, there are standing desks you can purchase or make on your own. There is a bunch of IKEA hacks on the web solely for that purpose. If you do invest in a standing desk, you will need a tall stool or chair and I was told it is essential to have one of those foam foot mats (they market them for the kitchen) to stand on, otherwise your feet can get sore. Imagine the extra calories you can burn just by doing your job?

And for the overachiever - there is also the treadmill desk! 

Note: treadmill desks can't help you use your desktop space efficiently.
My guess is forward-thinking companies will start outfitting their offices with stand-friendly workstations eventually. The money saved in health insurance premiums alone would pay for the desk and then some. You may roll your eyes at this contraption and it's hamster wheel connotations. But when your risk of disease and death skyrockets by an alarming percent, solely from sitting for too long in a day, this nerd at his tread-desk starts looking pretty smart.

Any way you want to go about it, the point is to work standing and moving into your life. You do not have to rearrange your schedule or spend a bunch of money. You do not have to go to a gym or work out for hours on end. Just get up and use your own locomotion to propel you from place to place. And break up your day with short episodes of physical activity. It is truly one of the the easiest things you can do. Your life - or the quality thereof - actually depends on it.

No comments: