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Don’t just sit there. Stand up while you read this, for your health.

May 12, 2013

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Expedite Group’s main mission is to help you balance work and life, and maintaining your health is crucial to both.

I spend my workday in front of a computer.  I bet a lot of you do, too.  And while I make a strong effort to exercise regularly, this got my attention.

Earlier this year the Mayo Clinic published a study about how sitting at our desks all day long poses a health risk that cannot be eliminated with a regular gym routine.

According to author Dr. James Levine (in the article linked here), “the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.”

David Worthington of Smart Planet says “you can lose as much as 8 pounds per year standing three more hours per day” in his article on the research.  (That gets my attention too.  Talk pounds lost to me any day.)

So what can you do about it?  Dr. Levine suggests modifying a treadmill to become your new desk.  Theoretically a nice idea, but that’s not happening in my office.  Other ideas:

  1. Stand up to make phone calls and read emails.
  2. Set an alarm on your computer, smart phone or clock to go off at ten till every hour.  Use those ten minutes to fill your water bottle, head to the restroom, walk a lap around the office (include a flight of stairs if you have them!), and hand-deliver messages to co-workers.
  3. Modify your desk so that you can stand while you work.  Place a few fat books under your monitor and keyboard if you have to.  Your body will thank you.
  4. Do leg exercises once an hour (at twenty past, to maintain the movement effect) while you work.  It’s not the same as standing, but if you brace your core while stretching out it’s better than being idle.  Here’s plane-travel tip from Dr. Elaine Schattner that you can use at your desk:”While seated, move your feet and legs around as much as cir­cum­stances permit, and at least every hour or so. Flex your feet 10 times, and stretch your legs as best you can, bending and extending the knees, one at a time, in any available direction, 10 times each. Another exercise is to raise each foot and swivel it, piv­oting the toes from side to side while keeping the ankle rel­a­tively still.”  Read her whole article here.
  5. Be the gopher, or the Go-Fer.  Volunteer to bring co-workers their coffee, carry the files to accounting, or empty the recycling.
  6. Stretch your abdominals at the end of the day.  Lay on your belly and prop yourself on bent elbows, and take some deep belly breaths.  Physically stretching out your organs like this will help counteract being crunched up all day.  (You can trust me, I have a New York State license in massage therapy.  True story.)

The added benefit to moving more is more than physical.  It’s mental.  More oxygen in your body means better brain function.  Better brain function means less effort for better results in your work.  Everybody wins!

So what are you waiting for?  Go get a drink of water–from a cooler on a different floor, of course.

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