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How to Combat the Effects of Sitting at a Desk All Day

6/13/18 9:57 AM

Being in the digital age, it is difficult to not sit for long periods of time while working a desk job. However, the health risks of sitting all day and remaining sedentary may be worse than those of a smoker. The Lewis and Clark Law Review believes that the health risks that employees are facing are so serious that employers either need to get their employees on their feet or face a potential lawsuit.

Employees who remain at their desk all day are at risk of obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels due to decreased circulation. Because most employees lead sedentary careers, cardiovascular disease-related deaths have increased. While working an office job does not guarantee that you will face cardiovascular diseases,  it does increase your chances of developing cardiovascular and muscular issues.

The Mayo Clinic conducted a study with 1 million people who proved that 60-75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity countered the effects of too much sitting. Holistic Osteopathic Practitioner Tudor Marinscu M.D. and PHD supports this study by claiming that, “Ancestrally, our bodies are made to always be in motion and they are not meant to be static.”

Here are some fun and innovative ways for you to get moving and combat the potential health risks that a desk job may bring on:

Take a Break From Sitting every 30 minutes

Not only is taking a break from sitting good for your cardiovascular health, it’s also good for your mental health to get away from work for at least a short amount of time. The British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted a study in 2015 that boasted that for jobs that are desk based workers should aim to stand or walk around for at least 2 hours per work day. To get started you could simply get up and walk around your office building, maybe up and down the stairs, progressing to taking a walk around the block. All that matters is that you are getting up and moving.

Try to implement a “Recess Day” For your Office

Zappos.com has implemented “Recess Tuesdays” into its office culture. By providing outdoor toys such as basketballs, chalk, bubbles, and nerf guns, you encourage employees to get outside and moving. Not only will incorporating a recess day for your employees get them up and out of their desk chairs, it will encourage employee bonding and camaraderie, which is a great way to kick off an employee recognition program.

Try a standing desk or improvise with a high counter or table 

As stated before, sitting all day is seriously bad for your health. But what if you could accomplish all the work you need to get done during the day while also burning calories? A standing desk may be your answer. Compared to an equal work day of sedentary work, standing has been shown to burn 170 additional calories. Those 170 extra calories a day equals out to almost 1000 extra calories a week! Using a standing desk could also help lower blood sugar. In a small study conducted by Healthline,  of 10 office workers, standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time. In this same study it was concluded that a standing desk could also reduce lower back pain and even boost productivity. 

Walk with your colleagues rather than sitting in a conference room

Fran Melmed, the founder of Context, a communication and change management firm, boasted the benefits of the walking meeting to Harvard Business Review. Through this interview HBR discovered that the walking meeting is especially beneficial to those working in the creative field and also lead to more honest exchanges with employees and are more productive than traditional sit down meetings. The chemicals released from our brains while walking aids executive function, which commands how we focus on certain tasks, and therefore leads to better employee engagement. 

Get your employees up and moving with these tips above to prevent sedentary workers. Not only will getting your employees moving aid their own health, it will help produce more engaged and satisfied employees.

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