Did you know that about 80% of Americans work in sedentary jobs in the country? This comes with many health implications and is probably one of the reasons why we’ve seen such a rise in cardiovascular disease over the last few years. Working at a desk job can also increase the chances that you develop back issues and diabetes, and it could shave off years off your life.
With that being said, there are things that you can do to counteract some of the detrimental effects of a sedentary job and a lot of them will involve – you guessed it – moving. Let’s take a look at how you can stay healthy when you have a desk job.
Take More Breaks
If you have control over your breaks, then one of the things we would suggest is that you take more of them. You could use a system like the Pomodoro technique to segment your day and take regular breaks. You can move your body during that time to stimulate blood flow.
The Pomodoro technique is great for this since you’ll be working in small bursts followed by short breaks and take a longer break after a few of these cycles. For instance, you can work for 30 minutes, take an 8-minute break after each work sprint, and take a 30-minute break after four cycles. You can play around with these settings and find something that works for you. We also suggest that you pick up a tool like the Marinara app to help you keep up.
Try to do some moderate to intense activity during your short breaks. You can use your long breaks to eat if you need and switch to a different position. If you can lay down and take a quick nap during that time, this will put less stress on your back.
You could do anything from jumping jacks to running on a treadmill if you have access to one during your short breaks. Having a jump rope with you could also help. Or you could do a quick series of pushups. Anything that will push your heart rate to 70% capacity.
Another thing you could do is switch to a standing station or switch between sitting and standing. Standing desks are great for the body, and if you’re skeptical about them, we suggest you give them a try and see how different you’ll feel.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of standing vs. sitting at work, check out the resources at Branch. They break down all the ways that sitting can damage your body and the pros and cons of standing vs. sitting at work in detail. They also explain exactly how you can switch to a sit-stand station and some of the things you should be looking for when buying a standing desk.
Doing intense activity at least once per week can be enough to counterbalance some of the negative effects of sitting all day. If you have a sedentary job, we suggest that you get a gym membership if you don’t have one already. Training once a week is okay, but if you want to feel better, then you should aim for 300 minutes of moderate activity, 150 minutes of intense activity, or an equal combination of both.
Another thing we would suggest you do is to see if you could engage in some sort of sport. Organized sports are better, but individual sports can help too. If you have coworkers, then you could ask them if they’d like to play basketball or flag football once a week. Or you could do some roller skating, cycling, or swimming. These are all things that will get your blood pumping and make you feel better in general.
You also have to be very careful with what you eat. One of the worst things you could do is start your day with pancakes or a donut. You will have to keep your sugar intake to a minimum. Instead of refined sugars, try to go for something like whole-wheat toasts or rolled oats.
Protein will also be very important. The best part about protein is that they make you feel full for longer, so you won’t be tempted to snack as much. In addition, protein will support your muscle mass and prevent some core issues. Try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can too. They will provide you with essential nutrients and are full of fiber, which will further help keep your hunger down.
Mornings should be your time to get some activity in before your workday. You should follow some sort of routine each morning, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be tough. Just walking for about 30 minutes each day will give you tons of benefits.
Another thing you could do is use your bike instead of your car to go to work. You could use the bike for the whole trek, take the bus/train and your bike, or even drive until you’re at a reasonable distance from your job and use your bike to get there.
You should also consider getting up early so you can get a serious workout in. You could pop a DVD on and do some aerobic work, for instance. Some people even go to the gym in the morning, so if this is something you could do, you will only benefit from it.
This might not sound like the most practical and efficient thing to do, but you should make it a habit of going directly to the people you want to talk to from time to time and speaking to them face to face instead of sending emails. This will force you to move and could be safer in some cases.