Disclosure: Today’s guest post was submitted to DelBlogger for publication.
The stability of a typical 9-5 job provides many with financial security, and the ability to afford not just basic needs, but wants as well. But what about the potential impact a desk job has on your health?
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a number of health concerns. You may be active on the weekends or during vacation, but what about during the workday?
Health Impacts of a Desk Job
Sitting at a desk all day can make it easy to pack on the pounds. Your body isn’t moving much, you may indulge in more snacking, and you may find yourself so exhausted at the end of the day you don’t make time for exercise. Prolonged sitting has been linked to the following health issues:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Slower Metabolism
- High Blood Pressure
A survey conducted by Jenny Craig found that 68% of those surveyed indulged in unhealthy habits due to work. When it comes to eating more than necessary or making unhealthy food choices, 51% revealed they struggled with this at work. Similarly, 50% of office workers surveyed felt compelled to participate in work lunches, happy hours, or dinners that added to excessive calories consumed.
Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can reduce your risk of health problems, and increase your ability to handle stress in the office, which could lead to less stress-eating, and improve your energy levels for recreational activities after work.
Did you know there are health benefits to simply standing up throughout the day while working? To maximize the positive impact on your health, start small and work your way up (pun intended!).
Ideally, you should be out of your seat for about 30 minutes every hour. This may seem difficult to achieve at first, but you could work your way there in five-minute increments. Instead of reading emails while sitting, try something different:
- Use a standing desk to read or respond to messages on your computer
- Read emails or check voicemail on your cell while standing or walking in the office
- Take a stand in your next office meeting, literally, by being on your feet in the conference room
If this is too distracting at first, allow yourself to step away from your desk and take a walk through your workspace, whether it’s a typical office or at home.
When you add up these increments of standing throughout the day, you may be surprised to see how much time you’re spending on your feet. A 2015 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine recommends being on your feet for two to four hours every day.
Being Active Outside the Office
If the majority of your day is spent working, it can be overwhelming trying to add exercise to your schedule. But, what about making exercise part of your commute or the workday itself?
Change Your Commute
If you work from home, use the time you used to spend commuting in the car to take a walk around your neighborhood before and after work. It’s a great way to get in the right headspace for a day in the home office or to clear your head before returning to your personal life at the end of the day. Since working from home can make it difficult to differentiate between “work you” and “home you,” an exercise break can not only help your physical health but your mental health as well.
If you head to a workspace outside your home, consider biking or walking if feasible. If your office is out of reach on a bike or on foot, what about making your way to public transportation for part of your commute?
Workout at Work
It’s not uncommon to have a fitness center in the workspace. More employers are seeing the benefits of health incentives for their workforce and are making it easier to support regular exercise.
Consider outfitting your desk with a treadmill so your fingers scrolling across a keyboard aren’t the only part of you getting some movement. Even at a slow and steady pace, walking every day can not only help you lose weight, but it can help you avoid afternoon burnout during a long day. Up your energy and your mood by intermittently using your computer at your treadmill desk rather than at your seat.
Lift at Lunch
You may not have time to hit the gym during your lunch break, but you can store a couple of weights or a resistance band at your desk. Since you’re trying to make an impact in a shorter amount of time than you might spend working out on a day off, the key to a successful lunch break workout is increasing intensity. Here are some other ways you can move during your lunch break and still have time for a bite to eat:
- Stretch the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings
- Jumping jacks
- Lift heavier weights for fewer reps/sets
If you travel for work, take advantage of the fitness center in your hotel and get in a quick sweat session each day to help you stay on track with your health goals.
Take the Stairs
At home or at the office, take the stairs when you can. If you’re on the ground floor, use one of your breaks to go up and down a flight a handful of times to get your heart rate up.
Walk Instead of Slack(off)
If you can, walk over to a co-worker when you have a question or a comment about a project. If it doesn’t have to be in writing, get up from your workspace and add to your pedometer and your facetime quota for the day.
It’s easy to get so involved in a project that you fail to notice time passing throughout the workday. Don’t hesitate to set reminders for yourself to get up and move during the day. Remember that any movement is better than no movement!