Desk jobs have become increasingly common in today’s workforce, and while they provide a sense of stability and comfort, there is a dark side of desk jobs. Sitting for extended periods has been linked to a host of health problems, from poor posture to increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This is concerning news for American adults who are sitting more than ever. According to John Hopkins, “physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of the U.S. workforce, down from roughly half of jobs in 1960.”
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can affect your body from head to toe. Results of an analysis of 13 studies found, “sitting time and activity levels found in those who sat for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Despite the impact desk jobs can have on physical and mental health, there are a multitude of ways to help combat an overly sedentary work life.
How to Stay Healthy When Sitting at Work
Take Frequent Breaks
Sitting for long periods can lead to poor circulation, which can cause fatigue and increase the risk of developing blood clots. Taking frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, or walk around can help improve circulation and increase energy levels. The Mayo Clinic suggests daily activities such as getting up every 30 minutes, holding walking meetings with colleagues, and trying a standing desk. Setting an alarm to remind yourself to get up every half hour and take a quick walk around the office is another helpful strategy.
Practice Good Posture
Sitting in the same position for extended periods can put stress on your neck, shoulders, and back, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. Practicing good posture, such as sitting with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight, can help alleviate these issues. Investing in an ergonomic chair or standing desk can also help improve posture and reduce strain on the body.
Drinking enough water is essential for overall health, and it’s especially important for desk workers who spend most of their day sitting. Staying hydrated can help improve focus, reduce fatigue, decrease the urge to snack and prevent headaches. Keep a water bottle at your desk and aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
Eating a healthy diet is crucial for maintaining good health, and it’s especially important for those who sit for extended periods. People who don’t typically eat breakfast have a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and being overweight, when compared to those who regularly eat within two hours of waking up. Eating a nutritious breakfast and trading take out lunches for healthy snacks and meals can help keep energy levels up and prevent mid-afternoon crashes. Avoid eating at your desk and take a break to eat in a different location, which can help improve mental health and productivity.
Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is essential for maintaining good health, and it can also help combat the negative effects of sitting. Research has found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Try taking walks during your lunch breaks or attending a fitness class before or after work.
While desk jobs can be convenient and comfortable, they can also be detrimental to one’s health. By taking frequent breaks, practicing good posture, staying hydrated, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly, you can combat the dark side of desk jobs and maintain good health.