If you lead a corporate lifestyle, you may probably spend many hours a day sitting down at your desks or commuting to work. If you do so, you might unknowingly be a victim of a very serious problem: a sedentary lifestyle.
Basically, spending long amounts of time with little to no energy expenditure and physical exercise can be termed as sedentary behavior.
Sedentary behavior is becoming ever more prevalent because of the advances in technology. It is more prevalent in corporate jobs than in physically active jobs.
In fact, it has become one of the biggest health issues of this modern age and leading a sedentary lifestyle can give rise to many chronic problems in life such as heart disease and obesity.
The Associated Risks
Obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal problems, etc. have all been linked with a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, long periods of inactivity can slow down metabolism and weaken the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and break down fat.
A study found that sedentary behavior may be a distinct risk factor, independent of physical activity, for multiple adverse health outcomes in adults.
Another study conducted by researchers from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found a relationship between increased risk of dying from cancer and a sedentary lifestyle.
Also, other than physical problems, sedentary behavior also has a negative impact on mental health. People who are physically inactive seem to fall prey to depression and anxiety easily. Moreover, as we know exercise helps to combat stress, people who don’t exercise can suffer from the same as well.
So, How Do You Overcome These Effects?
If you lead a corporate life, you may be surprised to find the extent of the havoc your sedentary life is causing on your body and your mind. But it’s not too late. Where there is a problem, there is an opportunity.
With the help of the following ways, you will be able to combat the negative effects associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
1. Track the Time You Spend Sitting
The first thing you can do is to keep track of the time you spend sitting down in your office. Once you have the time tracked down, make a conscious effort to reduce this. There are many studies that prove sitting for more long periods of time puts us at high risk for health problems.
2. Take Regular Breaks
Once in every while, take a short break to get off your chairs. Go for a walk or make a cup of coffee, or just stand up and stretch your limbs a little. Taking short breaks will also help you to combat any spell of boredom at work and help you become more productive.
And sooner than you know, you will be getting up from your chairs more frequently instead of being stuck to them for hours.
3. Go for a Walk After Lunch
Always go for a walk after having your lunch. Or, go walk to a nearby outlet for lunch. Doing so will ensure you get an extra activity during the day.
Walking, after a meal especially, aids digestion and helps control blood sugar levels. It also keeps your heart healthy as it increases HDL cholesterol and decreases LDL cholesterol.
4. Take the stairs
If your office building is a multi-storied one and has elevators, instead of taking them, take the stairs. Climbing stairs uses up a lot of energy and burns many calories. In fact, climbing stairs burns more calories per minute than jogging.
Moreover, taking the stairs counts as physical activity on its own and it will help you become less sedentary.
5. Stand while Working
Sitting for long periods at work is one of the main causes of back pain and bad posture.
Try to work while standing for 15 to 30 minutes every hour. This will help you to avoid being too sedentary. If you are an employer, you can provide taller desks at your office where your employees can work while standing.
Standing desks will promote good posture and they will also eliminate health risks associated with sitting.
The risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle can be negated by physical exercise. There are in fact many exercises which you can do at the convenience of your desk.
These exercises are easy to do and will help you get up from your chairs and be active. Also, doing these exercises will promote weight loss and help you attain a healthy weight.
7. Be Active Outside of Work
Despite making changes like taking the stairs or cycling to work, you might not be able to completely avoid being sedentary at work. As such, try to sit as little as possible when you get out of work.
Avoid sitting at the couch at home watching tv or playing video games. Go to a gym and work out, go for an evening walk, or do anything that limits your sitting duration.
8. Change your Commute
In addition to being sedentary at work, you also are mostly physically inactive while commuting to and from work. Irrespective of whether you are driving a vehicle or traveling via bus, you sit throughout the whole journey. And, this just adds up to the hours you spend sitting down.
Two ways to combat this is by cycling or walking to work. Both have numerous benefits and are great at keeping one healthy and fit. They are beneficial to the environment as well. Also, they will help to keep you active throughout the day and ward off stress associated with traveling in traffic.
9. Participate in a Fitness Challenge
If you are an employer and you have not yet introduced a fitness challenge already, you should do it immediately. A fitness challenge can be introduced as a part of your company’s health and wellness programs. It can include challenges like walking 10,000 steps a day, cycling to work, etc.
Participation in such challenges promotes healthy behaviors and it combats the sedentary behaviors associated with a corporate lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with numerous health problems from heart diseases to cancer. It is tough to avoid it completely, but with techniques like the ones given above, you can prevent its negative effects. Limiting sedentary behavior is a major aspect of a successful workplace health and wellness program and you must take all the steps necessary to do so.