Dangers of Sitting
In this post you will find several recommendations for exercises to do while sitting at a desk, to improve your health, and prevent disease. Although, you must be thinking, “why would I even attempt to exercise at work when I can just workout before or after work?” Well, we do have a valid reason behind our madness. If you are sitting for long stretches of time, then you are putting your health on the line. Being inactive for long periods of time is not healthy and has been linked with several diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancers including: breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and epithelial ovarian.
Living an Active Lifestyle or a Sedentary One
Even if you lead an active lifestyle outside of your desk job, you are still not out of the clear. If you are mainly sedentary for 8-9 hours per day, which is the average work day for most people, you are still at risk no matter how active you are outside work. So even if you run every evening after work, you still can not erase the damage that you are doing by sitting down everyday at work.
People that have a sedentary lifestyle, even when they are not working, have a 40% higher risk of an early death than those who live an active lifestyle, and are not sedentary at work. Yes, you read that right, 40%. We don’t want to scare you here, but rather empower you and tell you how to avoid all these preventable diseases and an early death.
Exercising At Work
We are not going to try and convince you to quit your desk job, instead, we are going to give you some exercises to do when you are at work to mitigate the dangers of sitting. Also, when we say “exercises” we are using the term loosely, it doesn’t mean you will be huffing and puffing. We also understand most people dress up for work, and business clothes can be restrictive and uncomfortable. We assure you that none of these exercises are strenuous or will make you sweaty or wreck your hair. Most importantly these exercises are very subtle and will not get you in trouble with your boss, we know most people do not work in a laid back work environment that would encourage exercise over work, so we have tailored these exercises so that no one will know you are exercising on the job.
The Golden Rule for Sedentary Workers
We advise that you should not stay sitting for any longer than 30 minutes without getting up or doing some form of activity or exercise. Most of these exercises recommended are able to be done without making you have to stop working to complete them, so even if it does require a small amount of multitasking, give these exercises a try.
Exercises If You Have No Privacy At Your Desk
There are many exercises that can be done if your desk does not provide you any privacy, such as if you do not have your own cubicle or room, these exercises include:
- Marching Legs– firmly plant both of your feet on the floor under your desk, in a controlled manner lift one leg up and down and then move your other leg up and down, just like you are marching. Keep your abs tight while doing this. Do at least 15 marches per leg (30 in total).
- Calf Raises– start by keeping both feet planted firmly on the ground. Then at the same time shift your weight on to your tip toes, and return your feet firmly on the ground. You can do this with both legs at the same time or one leg at a time. Repeat 15 times per leg.
- Horizontal Leg Lifts– leg lifts are a great way to move your legs and at the same time tighten your abs. There are two versions of this exercise. One way is to lift one leg, while keeping the other leg planted on the ground, until it is horizontal under your desk. Try and hold your leg horizontal for at least 5 seconds, and repeat with your other leg. Do this exercise at least 10 times per leg. Another way of doing this exercise that is a little more difficult is by putting both of your legs horizontal at the same time, also try and hold this movement for a count of 5.
- Abdominal Contractions– while sitting up straight in your chair, tighten your abs as hard as you can and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times in a row.
- Toe Taps– keep one foot planted on the ground, and with the other foot tap the floor with the tip of your toes, you can keep you heel on the ground or to increase the difficultly have your foot floating over the floor while tapping your toes. Repeat 15 times per leg.
- Floating Feet– while sitting, lift both of your feet of the ground by an inch or two, make sure to tighten your abs, hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times in a row.
Exercises If You Have Some Privacy
For those of you reading who may have some privacy at your desk, such as if you have a cubicle or your own room, there are more exercises that you can do:
- Tricep Dips– this one only work if have a chair that doesn’t roll or if you can lock your chair from rolling around. Put your chair behind you and place both your hands on the edge of the seat. Put your legs in front of you and then dip yourself down and push yourself up again. Repeat 15 times.
- Fake Sitting– do a squat over your chair, hover above it an inch or so without touching your chair, try and hold the squat for 15 seconds. Repeat 3 times in a row.
- Push-ups– you can do them on the floor, or use the edge of the desk (easier then the floor). Aim for 15 push-ups.
- Biceps Flexing– flex your biceps (it is easiest to flex one arm at a time). Try and hold each flex for at least 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times per arm.
- Lifting Your Body Off The Chair– (only works if you have armrests) place your hands on the armrests and push your entire body up off the chair and your feet off the ground. Try and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Best of luck with your exercises, please let us know how they are going!
Biswas, A., Oh, P., Faulkner, G., Bajaj, R., Silver, M., Mitchell, M. and Alter, D. (2015). Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2), p.123.
Healthy U – The Dangers of Too Much Sitting. (2016). [online] Healthyalberta.com. Available at: http://www.healthyalberta.com/654.htm [Accessed 3 Mar. 2016].
Why sitting too much is bad for your health – Live Well – NHS Choices. (2016). [online] Nhs.uk. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/sitting-and-sedentary-behaviour-are-bad-for-your-health.aspx [Accessed 3 Mar. 2016].
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