According to the Washington Post, the average adult sits 8 hours a day and it’s not just out of pure laziness, many Americans are forced to sit due to their occupational field or sitting behind the wheel of their car. An hour commute, an 8 hour shift at work, a 2 hour binge watch at night, this may be your typical day, which means you are sitting far more than the average American adult. Not only can sitting all day become rather boring, but sitting can lead to health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and simply increase your mortality rate of any cause of death by 50%. Here are some tips for staying healthy and active in a world of sitting:
Adjust Your Desk and Chair
Millions of Americans sit at a desk and in front of a computer screen for 40 hours a week. The more you sit, the more you may notice little things like an achy back, a nagging headache, or even eye strain, which are often all related to your posture at your desk. Take a look around the office, how many colleagues are slouching, straining their eyes, or resting their feet on the legs of their rolling chair. This posture often occurs when we are concentrating or simply forget how we should be sitting.
A healthier (and proper) posture is to sit up straight rather than leaning forward, relax your shoulders, keep your arms close to your sides, keep elbows bent 90 degrees, and your feet flat on the floor. With a proper adjustment of your chair, you should be able to achieve this posture. Many people, who work in front of a computer all day, put their computer monitors on a stand (or elevate them some other way) so the head can look forward, rather than down. By simply changing your posturing, you are taking stress and pressure away from your spine, neck, and even vital organs. If you need to remind yourself to sit up straight, set an alarm on your computer or phone to “check your posture”. It may take you time to adjust, but you’ll notice improvements over time.
When you’re hard at work, answering emails, filing reports, and taking care of other important business, it’s easy to lose track of time. You check your clock and it’s already lunchtime (when you’ll leave your desk and continue to sit somewhere else). When you have a break, try to make the most of it. If you’re hungry, have a light snack, but then take the remaining time to walk around the office complex or even hit the outdoors. If you’re short on time, do a couple of laps up and down the steps (skipping the elevator whenever possible). If breaks are somewhat infrequent, set an alarm on your computer or phone and take a short lap around the cubicles. Take any chance you can get to move, even if that means grabbing a document from the printer or filling up your water bottle at the water cooler.
If you need a little boost of motivation to remind you to keep moving in a busy work day, download a self-monitoring app to your phone, such as an app that tracks your steps, and set a goal to hit that amount of steps each day.
When you have a busy work and home life, it’s difficult to find time to exercise, but make it a goal to move, stand, or stretch whenever you get a free moment whether you’re binge watching your favorite show or taking the subway home from a long day at the office. Your mind and body will thank you.