As the Information Age shifts many jobs and careers to a position in front of a glowing computer monitor, humans are sitting longer and longer each day. I am sitting as I write this article, and there is a very good chance that you are sitting as you read it. We sit to drive, we sit to eat, we sit to be entertained – and by not moving, we are taking years off of our lives.
Recent studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time day after day is worse for your health than smoking, drinking and a bevy of other so-called vices. Having a desk job can not only make you fat, it also increases your risk for diabetes, cancer and heart attacks. Sitting all day long isn’t just bad for your health – it’s bad for your spirit. If you have a desk job, resolve to make some changes and inject some movement into your day.
Set a timer for stretching.
Find a digital timer or download a timer app for your smart phone, and create a standing alarm (with a pleasant, subtle sound) to go off every hour or thirty minutes that you are at your desk working. When the timer goes off, stand up and stretch, walk around the room, do a few jumping jacks or whatever it takes to get your body moving.
Plan a 15-minute break every two hours.
Are you so busy that you can’t manage a quick break every two hours? Remind yourself that your health is one of your top priorities, and that running yourself into the ground with work will give you a poor quality of life and bad health. Commit to creating a less stressful life for yourself, and spend those 15 minutes doing something besides sitting: go for a quick walk, have a chat at the office lounge or use the time to stretch or meditate.
If you have a desk job, you are already maxing out your body’s daily capacity for sitting. Choose evening entertainment that is the opposite of sitting: sign up for a yoga class, take a dance lesson, go on a walk or head to the park with your dog. If you must see a certain TV show or movie, record or TiVo it and watch it on your day off from work.
Strengthen your core.
A healthy back is central to a healthy body, and a healthy back is a strong back. Unless you’re 18, your back has probably seen better days. Aim for a life free from back pain caused by sitting by developing a strong back through yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise. Strong back muscles will protect you from pain later in life and help you to combat the deleterious effects of a desk job.
Commit to better posture.
If you have been working at a desk job for years, chances are that the slump has already started to sink in. Fight the slump by concentrating on improving your posture. Attach a note to your computer monitor – an arrow pointing up will do – and search for other parts of your day when you can work on standing tall (when brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, fixing your hair etc.).