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Sitting at your desk is killing you

Woman office worker sitting at her desk

A lot of noise has been made lately about how bad sitting is for our health.   Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk of cancer, increase your risk of heart attack by 54%,  and cause the body to increase fat by 50% more than usual (also known as the secretary spread).

The average American working environment is that of an office setting that makes it hard to work in a lot of activity during the day.  I try to work in at least an hour of physical activity either before or after work, but that may not even be enough. Research shows that trips to the gym or daily walks with the dog can’t undo a full day of sitting on your butt.

The only way to combat this is to try to add even more physical activity into our days.  No, you don’t have to do jumping jacks every ten minutes (although that is a good way to go about it if you don’t mind awkward stares from your cubemates), there are a few easy strategies to work more activity into your day.

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  • Standing desks. Standing desks have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years.  There are commercially available desks or you can make your own by stacking your monitor or laptop on books or a chair. Just be sure it’s at the appropriate height for your neck and back.
  • Office laps.  I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but taking frequent walks can help with circulation and also help to alleviate boredom.
  • Desk stretches. If you can’t get up to walk, this is your next best bet. Some great stretches can be found here.
  • Exercise ball chair. If your boss will let you, trade your desk chair for a firmly inflated fitness or stability ball. You’ll improve your balance and tone your core muscles while sitting at your desk. You can even use the exercise ball for wall squats, crunches or other workplace exercises during the day.
  • Extend your commute. If you ride the subway to work, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive, park further away from the building than you normally do.

 

See, it’s really not that hard to work a little more movement into our days. But I wonder how long it will be until scientists tell us standing will kill us all…

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Melissa Howard
By: Melissa Howard

Melissa Howard is an aspiring health writer living and working in Boston, MA. Her approach to fitness is to focus on being healthy, not on losing weight or trying to live up to unreachable standards set by magazines or Hollywood. Her favorite ways to stay fit include walking, yoga and pilates. When she's not walking around the city of Boston, she can be found cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams and trying to teach herself to cook.

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