We have long known that physical activity is a key component in the equation for good health, but recent studies show just how harmful inactivity can be. According to research, sitting for long periods of time contributes to risk of metabolic syndrome, heart attack risk, stroke risk, and overall death risk. Prolonged sitting is on target to cause more deaths than cancer; currently, physical inactivity causes 9% of premature mortality, which equates to more than 5.3m deaths a year. Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) lists inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality? Yet most of us spend our days deskbound at the office. Employees spend an average of forty hours a week at work, and for much of this time they are sedentary.
The good news
Luckily, we don’t need to resign ourselves to the detrimental effects of inactivity. Inactivity’s threat to our health can be countered. According to experts, sedentary time is best mitigated by lots of frequent movement, even if it’s only done for brief periods of time. In order to boost your health in the long term, follow these steps for staying active in the workplace.
Where you taught not to fidget as a child? It’s time to forget that advice. You burn more calories by chewing gum or fidgeting than you do sitting still in a chair.
Sit on a stability ball
Swap your old desk chair for a firmly inflated fitness or stability ball. Sitting on the unstable surface will activate your core muscles all day long and will improve your balance. As an added bonus, you can also use the fitness ball for wall squats or other workplace exercises during the day.
Look for opportunities to stand on your feet
You’ll burn more calories standing than sitting. Make a rule that you’ll always stand while talking on the phone. Propose a standing meeting to your colleagues. Note that the key is balance: prolonged standing can lead to the development of musculoskeletal disorders, so most experts recommend a 50:50 sit-stand ratio.
Take frequent walks around the office
Take every opportunity you can to walk around the office; research suggests that we should be walking 10,000 steps a day. Walk over to your co-worker’s desk rather than picking up the phone, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get up frequently to re-fill your water glass rather than keeping a bottle at your desk, devote 15 minutes of your lunch break to going outside for a walk. These small walking breaks will keep you mentally alert while significantly benefitting your overall health.
Exercise at your desk
There are many exercises you can do right from your desk – try these seven to get going. Don’t underestimate the impact that these seemingly small activities can have on your health: it has been proven that frequent movements throughout the day will make a huge difference in your overall wellbeing!