Did you know that sitting all day can decrease your lifespan?
Office jobs has pros and cons. Consistent pay, regular hours, free coffee, and maybe it’s something you ACTUALLY enjoy.. but you’re sitting all damn day, and that isn’t exactly optimal for your body.
We, as humans, are designed for regular movement! But most of us spend most of the day sitting still instead. We wake up, get ready, and sit on a bus or in our car for 30 minutes until we get to work, in which case we sit for an additional 8–10 hours. We then sit on our commute home, maybe make a quick dinner, and sit on the couch and watch the game or catch up on your TV shows for another 2–3 hours. Then its time for bed and we repeat the sitting cycle the next day.
How is sitting affecting your body?
As soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles drops significantly, and your calorie-burning rate plummets to about 1 calorie per minute (which is nothing). After about 3 hours of sitting, there is a 50% drop in artery dilation, and as a result a decrease in blood flow.
After 2 weeks of sitting for more than 6 hours a day, LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) is increased, along with other fatty molecules putting you at greater risk for weight gain. On top of this, the enzymes responsible for breaking down fats decrease. And because of the prolonged inactivity, your muscles begin to break down (if you’re not using them).
A year later, these effects compound. In some cases, your bone mass can decrease, and when we don’t move, brain function begins to slow down. And after 10–20 years of sitting for more than 6 hours a day, you can knock years off your life and increase the risk of heart disease (among others) Scary stuff.
The good news is that this can be counteracted by exercise!
Often, office workers work long hours and think they have no time, and are too tired and lethargic to even think about working out. Hey, I totally get it; I currently work the classic 9–5 job with a nice pair of slacks and a crisp dress shirt in my little cubicle too.
But if you’re like me, you feel like a whale in captivity at Seaworld, just itching to get back into the ocean and live in its natural habitat, but you are confined to the grey, felt walls that is your cubicle for at least 8 hours a day.
Here are some ways to get you up from that office chair, help burn calories, improve your focus, and feel more energetic throughout the work day:
1. TAKE THE STAIRS
This is a big one. Elevators were invented for people who are UNABLE to walk up the stairs.. Now in our lazy society no one uses the stairs and the elevators are jammed packed! Do you even know where the stairs are in your building? If you work on the 20th floor and don’t want to break a sweat in your nice work clothes, I get it. But for those of you who work on the 2nd, 3rd, 4thand so on floor and you don’t take the stairs, c’mon! Get those legs working, we have them for a reason.
2. LUNCHTIME WORKOUT CIRCUTS
I’m lucky. I have a full gym right across the street from me. So most days I will go there on my lunch break, and get a quick little workout in, and feel revitalized when I return to my desk at 1. For most of you this probably isn’t an option. But there are options! Go for a quick 20 minute walk outside, get some fresh air, maybe once a week at lunch your building has a yoga or workout session in the basement, there are options if you seek them! In the summer time here in Ottawa, there is Parliament Hill Yoga every Wednesday at lunch, and all the downtown 9–5’ers usually head down, its an awesome way to break up the work day!
3. HAVE A BREAK, HAVE A KIT-KAT … WORKOUT!
I don’t know about you but when the mid afternoon hits, sometimes I just hit a wall. This is a good opportunity to take a quick break! Here are some things I do:
– 50 push ups, body squats and sit ups (either in my cubicle or a meeting room)
– Walk up a few flights of stairs and get the blood flowing
– Walk outside quickly, get some sun and fresh air.
Obviously, on the SUPER busy days, these activities may not be an option, But I always try to fit them in when I can.
Tony Schwartz (who is the head of a productivity consulting firm called The Energy Project) says without breaks throughout the day, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing. This guy works with companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Apple and many more big names, he knows his stuff.
4. COMMUTE TO WORK
This is an AWESOME excuse for fitness. Working in Ottawa I see tons of people biking, walking, running, rollerblading, even unicycling to work every day! That’s awesome. Try to mix in some form of fitness in your commute if you can. Spending time outside is good for your immune system and has been shown to improve focus and relieve stress!
5. OFFICE EATS
This is also a big one. One of the best things about working in an office is all the birthdays (which equals cake), lunches, coffee breaks, timbit runs that happens on a daily basis. It’s a great way to catch up and get to know your co-workers! But depending on your fitness goals, try to stay on track with your nutrition. I’m not saying you have to completely isolate yourself from others, but just be mindful of what you are eating and if it is helping or hurting your progress towards your goals!
STAY HYDRATED! Especially with all the coffee people drink in the office, it is very easy to get dehydrated, and mistake thrust for hunger. Keep a water bottle filled beside you and just sip on the bad boy all day long, your body will thank you.
Have a mid afternoon snack! This will help give you a little kick when you hit the afternoon lul. It also helps ensure you aren’t absolutely starving when you get home and pig out on whatever is available (which usually isn’t the best choices)… I’ve been there.
BONUS TIP: CUSTOMIZE YOUR OFFICE SPACE
There are options to ensure you aren’t sitting all day if you so choose. Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing. The disks in your back are meant to expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients, when you sit the disks become compressed. To counteract this problem, there are now standing work stations, exercise ball seats, reminder apps to (to drink water to do 50 pushups), Myfitnespal to track your calories and macros, fitbits to measure your activity. You can track everything nowadays, use it to your advantage!
There is no denying the benefits that health and fitness has on employee wellness. It improves the quality of life for the employee and reduces disease and injury risk. It totally benefits the employer as well! Their employees will be more productive, have less “sick” days, and lower costs on health insurance related costs. Workplace health programs are now seen as a core component of an attractive employee compensation and benefits package.
The more hours you spend sitting in a day increases your chances to develop health related issues and may shorten your time on this beautiful earth. It is easy to implement ways to get up and get moving throughout your day, try a few of the tips outlined in this blog, and share with anyone you think would benefit from it!
Are you sitting too much, or feel you don’t have anytime to workout?
The Busy Body Plan is a Workout program that can be done ANYWHERE and is designed for people with busy schedules. Are you a busy mom, student, athlete or full-time employee? This program has you covered. Get it here.