Standing Up for Your Health
Is your desk job a health hazard? According to research, a sedentary lifestyle or long periods sitting over time can take a toll on your health. Researchers have found that a sedentary life can be linked to health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death – even if you exercise regularly.
“Extended periods of sitting can affect every part of your being.”
“Extended periods of sitting, typically at work, can affect every part of your being,” says Laura M. Rosch, DO, an osteopathic internal medicine physician from Winfield, Illinois. “When you sit for long stretches of time, your body stops working as effectively as it can. The more regular this routine, the higher the risk of developing health problems that are detrimental to your overall health.”
What are the Effects of a Sedentary Work Life?
- Mental problems: Stress, anxiety, exhaustion, depression and disordered sleep.
- Eye problems: Eye strain, temporary blurred vision, headaches and migraines.
- Heart problems: High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, angina and heart attack.
- Limb problems: Loss of muscle mass, loss of flexibility, carpal tunnel syndrome and hand/wrist tendinitis.
- Posture problems: Loss of flexibility, rotator cuff disease, pulmonary disease and chronic pain in the neck, shoulder, back or hand.
- Back problems: Thoracic outlet syndrome, ruptured disks, and pulled or strained muscles/ligaments.
- Gut problems: Weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and impaired libido.
Staying Fit During Your Workday
The average office worker is at a higher risk of early mortality due to prolonged periods of sitting at a desk. To reduce your risk factor for multiple health problems, Dr. Rosch encourages people to adopt healthier routines.
“Healthy eating and exercise are the best antidotes for a sedentary lifestyle.”
“It doesn’t take much to improve your health. Healthy eating and exercise are the best antidotes for a sedentary lifestyle,” explains Dr. Rosch.
She suggests as the following healthy tips to implement at work:
- Taking the stairs between meetings or taking breaks to walk the stairs for five to 10 minutes.
- Walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling.
- Stretching at your desk every 30 minutes.
- Biking or walking to work, or taking the long way to the train or bus stop.
- Exchanging unhealthy meals for healthier options.
- Adding a minimum of 10 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic exercise to your day, which is enough to get your heart pumping and burn calories.
- Seeing if standing desks are an option at your workplace. Be sure, however, to alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day since standing too much can lead to lower back problems over time.