It has frequently been said that sitting down is the smoking of our generation. Long periods of inactivity can be extremely bad for our health and working to avoid falling into this routine is essential if we are to keep ourselves as healthy as we can!
The Science Against Sitting
Avoiding extended periods of inactivity is obviously easier said than done, especially if you have a full time desk job - which so many of us do! A study into this concept, that took place in America, discovered that men who sit down for six or more hours every day are 20% more likely to die from an associated problem than men who sit down for three hours or less each day.
Additional studies have linked extended periods of inactivity to increased blood pressure, a higher incidence of cancer and the risk of diabetes.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Given these facts, it is common sense that increasing the amount of physical activity that you partake in each day is a positive idea. However, the benefits of physical activity are much more far reaching than this. For example:
- Research has shown that frequent movement can also aid with problem solving skills, which is generally beneficial in the workplace.
- Exercising regularly is known to improve your sleep cycle, which contributes massively to your mental health, energy levels and happiness.
- Your memory, your confidence, your strength and your flexibility can all be increased with physical activity.
Getting Active Each Day
So how can you find ways to add more movement to your day when you are restricted by a desk job?
Several innovative solutions to this problem have begun to emerge in recent years, with treadmill desks and standing desks becoming more readily available.
Standing while you work has been praised as a solution to this problem. Doing so encourages you to stretch your limbs throughout the day as you are not confined to a chair. Standing to work for at least two thirds of your day has the potential to greatly reduce the negative health effects associated with inactivity.
If it is not possible for you to obtain a standing desk or a treadmill desk, then it is important that you take your health into your own hands. I would advise that you never sit still for more than an hour at a time. Set an alarm to make sure this is not the case and spend between five and ten minutes walking and stretching every hour. You can either do this around your desk, or around the office!
When you are taking the time out during each hour, you can take a wander to the toilet, to the kitchen to make a drink or even to a co-workers desk to say hello. It doesn’t matter where you move to as long as you get up and do it!
Setting yourself a water quota for the day will not only help to keep you adequately hydrated, but will also serve as an excuse to get up and move to fill your glass. Between seven and nine glasses a day is advisable and will also help you to eradicate sugary, unhealthy drinks from your day.
Getting to Work
It is also useful to find physically active ways to get to and from work. Don't spend your commute sat still on the train, bus or tube! Get yourself a bicycle and make your own way. Not only will you get fit, but you will also save money as you avoid paying for transport. Check if your workplace has a cycle to work scheme and find a safe route from your home to the office.
Alternatively, if you live close enough to work that you can walk, then why not give it a go! At a moderate pace, you could walk up to two miles in just 30 minutes. So, if your office is less than two miles away, then why not give walking to work a try. As well as helping to keep you fit, this will also encourage your brain to release endorphins - those feel good chemicals that work to boost your happiness levels. Feeling happier first thing in the morning is something that we can all surely benefit from! Furthermore, walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia, as well as helping to lower your blood pressure.
Making self-care a priority in all aspects of your life is the best way to maintain optimum health and your working day should be no exception! Easy ways to incorporate simple acts of self-care into your day are to take regular short breaks to focus on your breathing, meditate or simply relax. You may also benefit from the use of positive affirmations or simple stretching techniques.