In the spirit of full disclosure, I am writing this article because I need to heed my own advice. I need to pay attention to the warnings I am about to offer because I am guilty of sitting at my computer for hours on end without a break. I have a tendency to get into a “zone” while I am working on my latest creation (like this article) and not remembering to get up and move at least once an hour. The research is very clear, however: sitting at our desks without taking periodic breaks even if only to stand for a few minutes will most probably cut our lives short. Yikes!
Experts have known since the mid-1980’s that there is a correlation between sedentary behavior like television viewing and weight status in children and adolescents. More recent studies, however, point to the fact that sedentary behaviors in adults also negatively influence our health. In case you are wondering, sedentary behaviors are characterized by minimal movement and very low level of energy expenditure for hours at a time. In an article entitled, “Sedentary Behaviors, Weight, and Health and Disease Risks,” sedentary behaviors are being associated with higher morbidity rates in adults. (Raynor, et al.)
More specifically, adults who sit most of the time are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, weight gain and obesity. In short, sitting too much for too long without giving your body a movement or stretch break could very well contribute to your early death.
Many of us find ourselves making our living by sitting in front of a computer most of our days and then sitting in front of the television to relax most of our evenings and weekends. Some of us are savvy enough to get out and exercise on a regular basis, but studies have shown that just getting exercise, even if it is regular exercise of moderate intensity a few times a week doesn’t counterbalance the need to move away from your desk periodically throughout the regular work day.
4 Reasons To Get Up From Your Desk Every Hour Or So:
1. Sitting for too long raises your chances significantly for type 2 diabetes.
2. Sitting for too long on a daily basis impairs the functioning of your healthy cholesterol (HDL).
Moving more during the day is necessary to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Sitting too long contributes to sore muscles in your back and extremities.
Your body is not designed for sitting so many hours of the day. Your muscles need movement to be healthy.
4. You need to get moving to keep the brain sharp.
Sitting and tending to one task for two long has detrimental effects on your creativity as well as your general productivity.
So, what can you do about it if you have a job that requires sitting for long periods at a time? Make an “action plan” and then stick to it. Your “action plan” should include at least a few of the following:
- Make it a habit to stand a few minutes each hour even if it means standing while you work.
- Take the long route to the restroom each day to get in more steps and, therefore, more physical activity.
- Stand when you feel the need to take a break for water or coffee.
- During your lunchtime, go for a leisurely walk even if it is just a walk through the building.
- Stand when you are talking on the phone. (I have a tendency to pace when talking on the phone…I didn’t know it was a good thing, but I will keep doing it now that I know it helps.)
- Stretch periodically giving your back a break by stretching your back muscles. It may help you stay more flexible.
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question or deliver a report instead of just emailing him or her.
- At home, take a leisurely walk after dinner. Walk with the family. This may be a great time to reconnect with your spouse or your children.
- Walk the dog daily twice a day. (Fido needs walks for proper health, too.)
- After reading a few pages of a book get up and move just a little. Give your body a break!
Our bodies were not created for the sedentary lives that we have created for ourselves because of the nature of our current work. Our bodies are still in need of exercise, movement, and physical activity. To maintain good health, we need to become mindful of our behavior, and if you are like me, and you have gotten into the habit of sitting for hours on end lost in your most current project, join me in creating some new, healthier habits. Let’s get up and move several times a day. We will find that we can be more productive in the long run, and we will be more creative. We will feel less tired and sore at the end of the day, and ultimately, we will extend our lives by taking charge and being aware of our need for movement throughout every single day.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP is a Career Makeover Coach who helps individuals find work that is perfect for them. She specializes in working with teachers who are burnt out and ready for a change, but she also works with mid-career professionals who find themselves ready to make a move that will feel more professionally fulfilling. Learn more about her here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock