Remember the good old days when “a cushy desk job” was considered a good thing? Well, today, health experts agree that sitting too long at your desk is not only bad for your waistline, it’s harmful to your overall health. So, what can you do if your job has you deskbound for six or more hours a day?
Well, before we get into that, let’s first take a look at some of the shocking ways your desk job could be compromising your health.
- Neurological Risks: Several studies have linked a sedentary lifestyle to brain damage and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In one UCLA study, published by the scientific journal PLOS earlier this year, researchers discovered that sedentary middle-aged and older adults developed thinning in the areas of the brain linked to memory. Even more disturbing than that finding is the fact that high levels of exercise did not seem to undo the negative effects of sitting too much.
- Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Premature Death: People who spend more than half of their waking day sitting down have a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and may even die sooner than their more active counterparts according to a 2015 study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine. In another study, researchers found that for every hour participants sat each day, on average, they had a 14 percent increase in their coronary artery calcification burden—an early marker of coronary artery disease.
- Increased Neck & Shoulder Pain: If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain when sitting for long periods at your desk, you are not alone. One Danish study of blue collar workers found that “more sitting time at work was associated with a favorable development of pain intensity over time.” That means even those who typically work non-desk jobs experienced more neck and shoulder pain when sitting for extended periods to do their job.
- Painful Hemorrhoids: While you may associate this irritating and embarrassing problem with pregnancy or constipation, a more common cause of hemorrhoids is actually excessive sitting. Doctors say that sitting for extended periods, especially on the toilet, can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus and make the problem even worse.
Now that you know four of the risks that sitting on the job can cause, it’s time to take a look at four ways you can reduce your chances of developing these health problems.
- Get Moving: Set a steps goal every hour and use a step tracker with a reminder alarm to help you remember to get up and move each hour. Just three minutes of walking each hour can do wonders for your health, mood, and energy levels.
- Skip the Best Parking Spot: Don’t try to park as close to the door as you can. Sneak more activity into your day by finding a spot in the back of the parking lot at the grocery store, mall, office, and wherever else you park your car. Remember to always be safe, however, and park in well-lit areas if you are traveling alone at night.
- Do a 7-Minute Workout: Don’t have time to get to the gym? Download a free 7-minute workout app right on your smartphone. Even the busiest among us can find seven minutes somewhere in the day to get the heart rate going.
- Invest in an Active Desk: You don’t have to settle for an unhealthy sit-down desk. There are tons of options on the market that let you sit, stand, and even cycle while you get work done. For example, ergonomic desk makers like FlexiSpot offer a wide range of sit-stand desk choices including electric standing desks and even desk bikes that allow you to remain productive and active at work.
Hopefully, now that you know the negative impact sitting all day can have on your health, you’ll be inspired to get up and moving throughout the day. And, don’t forget to spread the word to your co-workers too!