Itâ€™s a proven fact that sedentary work environments are leading to a multitude of health issues. It has been found that sitting for an extended period of time shuts down the circulation of the fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase. In some studies, the rate of heart disease, diabetes and obesity to be doubled or even tripled in people who sit for large portions of their day.
But what are we to do? With a 40-hour work week that requires most of us to be parked behind a computer screen, sitting seems inevitable.
One of the most drastic steps towards not sitting is to simply stand! You can set up a half sitting, half standing work station and take breaks doing both. This in itself will help your body stretch out naturally during the day without taking breaks in your work production to do so.
Have a ball:
Ball chairs are a great way to take a break from your normal sitting routine. Although not advised to take the place of a great ergonomic office chair, the bouncing and moving experienced while sitting on a ball chair can help break up the monotony of sitting in a stationary chair. This is the same for a rocking chair vs. couch. A rocking chair forces the body to be in motion and flex your calf/glut muscles. Try these methods of sitting in correlation with your normal routine.
Getting up to move during the day is absolutely vital in order to combat the negative effects of long-term sitting. Focus on your hips, gluts and shoulders as these are the places that are bound to carry the most amount of tension during sedentary work. If your office has a work-out room, spend 5 minutes every hour stretching your body out.
Focus on your breathing
Believe or not this is something that many of us donâ€™t know how to do. We take breathing for granted and as such most of us arenâ€™t getting the proper amount of oxygen into our lungs and bloodstream. The lack thereof causes decreased blood flow and higher stress levels. Deep breathing techniques are known to lower stress and blood pressure, relax muscles and decrease anxiety.
How are you sitting?
Many companies and HR departments are focusing on ergonomics as part of the employee introduction process and benefit program. Ergonomic specialists are known to make office visits to â€œergononizeâ€ desk space. Many companies are investing in proper ergonomic chairs, keyboards, screen risers and mouses. Learn about what materials are at your disposal before you start working, or even if youâ€™ve been at your company a long time. It is never too late to request proper care. After all: you spend most of your day working for your employer, the least they can do is provide you with proper support.
Get to the gym
Inactive long-term sitters are in danger of contracting weight-related health issues brought on by sedentary activity. Not only should you focus on decreasing your amount of sitting, but also increasing your amount of exercise. If you are new to fitness start slow working out 3 times a week. Whether that be walking to work instead of taking your car, or joining a gym. Donâ€™t burn yourself out all at once!
Focus on ergonomic exercises/stretches
Slouching will have long-term effects. Hunchback any one? It is important that you understand what exercises there are to combat the slow arching of your back. Talk to a personal trainer at your local fitness center or take to the internet! There are hundreds of videos, tutorials and articles on exercises designed specifically to rectify the negative effects of long-term sitting.
[box]Danae Matthews lives in San Francisco and writes for the on-line womenâ€™s health resource, Womenâ€™s Health Base.[/box]