How can you break up a sedentary work day?

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A sedentary job can wear you out AND wreak havoc on your physical health
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Many of us suffer from the sitting disease: A sedentary life, parked at a desk

Many of us suffer from the sitting disease: A sedentary life, parked at a desk.

Your construction worker husband, who lifts, lugs, hauls and climbs all day, might not agree, but your sedentary job can take its physical toll on you. Sitting at a desk, in one spot, for an eight hour stretch may even be more demanding and detrimental to your health than non-stop physically hard work.

The Institute of Medicine and Public Health reports that a large segment of society spends as much as 56 hours a week parked in a chair in front of a desk and computer, behind the wheel of a vehicle, or languishing on the couch in front of the TV. That amounts to 2-1/3rd days out of every week that many of us are sedentary -- and that does not include sleep time.

A new medical study called "inactivity physiology" examines the outcome of our increasingly sedentary lives and has devised a term for what has become epidemic as sitting disease.

People gain weight because of sitting disease. We eat as we always have but we do not move as much and the result is weight gain, particularly around the mid section.

In addition, a sedentary lifestyle leads to heart attacks and other serious medical conditions.

When you sit for hours on end, your metabolism slows. When your muscles are immobile for a long period of time, you burn fewer calories and your circulation slows down appreciably. The less you move the less blood sugar that is utilized by your body, according to Dr. Marc Hamilton of the University of Missouri. This can put you at risk of developing diabetes. In fact, for every 120 minutes spent on your butt each day, your risk of contracting diabetes increases by seven percent. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle ups your chances of becoming depressed because there is less blood flow to your brain as well as fewer endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals, being released by your brain.

As if you did not already know this, sitting wreaks havoc on the health of your spine and your posture because your hamstrings tighten and shorten as do your hip flexors, while the muscles that support your spine become stiff and weak. This leads to chronic lower back pain.

If is imperative that you break up your sedentary work day for your physical and mental health. Ironically, the Latin word for exercise is exercere, which means to keep busy or at work. So keep your body busy while at work, even if you are stuck in a cubicle. Exercise is keeping your body busy. When you exercise you use bones and muscles and your heart is forced to keep up with your activities, which keeps blood and oxygen flowing at a sufficient rate.

You do not need an in-office personal trainer to advise you on how to get a break during a sedentary work day. You can formulate a plan yourself. First off, take the stairs rather than the elevator. Yep. Secondly, realize that you can move, even if you are seated. Stretch both arms over head, extending your arms the full length. Now lean to the right, keeping your arms stretched over head, hold, now reverse and lean to the left, hold, and then return to the starting position. Extend your arms to the front, knit your fingers together and essentially turn your hands inside out so that the palm of your hands is facing a way from you. Hold this position for a few seconds and then relax.

Reach your right arm across your chest. Use your left hand to press on your right upper arm. You will feel the stretch. Repeat the stretch using the left arm.

With your back straight, lower your head to your right shoulder; do not allow your shoulder to lift up. Follow this with lowering your head to the left shoulder. Lower your head to the front; your chin should be resting on your chest. Lift up your head and look upward. You will feel a pull in the front of your neck.


Your eyes get tired when you work, so give them some R&R. Close them. Relax your face. Massage your forehead and temples. Give some R&R to your fingers, too. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be the result from too much typing and you want to avoid that. Splay your fingers and using a finger from the other hand, bend each finger backward toward you, one at a time. Do this on both hands. Make a fist and then straighten your fingers. Do this several times. Do a yoga technique calling valley massage: Using a finger on the opposite hand, rub in the valley between each of your fingers. Your fingers need to be stretched so they can maintain their flexibility.

Keep some scented moisturizer or hand lotion in your office. Rub it on your hands and anywhere on your body, your neck, face, or upper back, that needs some loving care.

Get up and walk purposely around your office. This will release the stiffness in your legs and back and help get rid of kinks and a tired, sore butt. Get a healthy snack in the afternoon and spend five minutes enjoying that and staring into space. If you are able, listen to the kind of music that energizes you and defeats the late afternoon doldrums. Everyone deserves a breather and mid-afternoon is when most require a break.


Womens Health Magazine: sedentary lifestyle hazards

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