About how many hours a day do you spend standing? Would you say that the hours of sitting outweigh your standing? Are you sitting right now as you read this post? I’m guessing your answer is yes.
Let’s think about an average workday for a moment. You sit when you drive to work in the morning; some days are longer depending on how bad traffic is. When you get to work, you probably stare at a computer for roughly 6-8 hours. Then there is the commute home, which involves probably more traffic, resulting in more butt time. After you’ve made yourself some dinner, you sit down at a table to eat. Then afterwards, you find some time to relax and sit in front of the TV. Eventually it’s time for bed and you repeat the same thing over and over again! That is a lot of time on your gluteus maximus! How can that be good for us?
The media has called sitting the new smoking. In 2014 The New York Times stated that those who sit for many hours on a daily basis were more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions. The study goes as far to say that sitting could even cause premature death. AND! It doesn’t matter if you exercise after sitting 6 or more hours a day, sitting is still likely to cause harm.
Shouldn’t that kind of statement freak us out? Some people may not be motivated to do anything unless there is a serious medical reason, and even in some cases that doesn’t matter.
You know what scared me the most from the study? When the study stated, even if you work out after your day job of sitting, it still wouldn’t matter. I try to work out after sitting at work for 8 hours. However, lately I don’t have much time to get a good cardio workout in after lifting weights. I used to walk my dog every day all year round but it hasn’t happened much this winter. For some reason the prolonged darkness and cold has been a major factor. I think the winter months make many of us unmotivated. We don’t want to leave our cozy office or home. But what’s our excuse the rest of the time?
What about those that live in warmer climates? Studies have shown that those living in warmer areas are more likely to do physical activity. My aunt and uncle moved from Ohio (after living there for over 30 years) to Florida last year. Since they moved, my aunt walks their dog 3 miles every morning. She loves the warmer weather and I think their dog really looks forward to their morning walks. I know some states like Arizona can get up to 115 degrees in the summer. That kind of heat definitely limits outdoor activities. So I guess there are pros and cons to living in different climates.
What can YOU do to stay more active at work?
Last Christmas I received a Fitbit from my parents. Almost every day since then, I’ve worn it. I’ve noticed that the Fitbit does make me more aware of how much activity I get on a daily basis. I certainly get more steps in when I’m not working though. The recommended amount of steps per day is 10,000. On days when I actually hit 10,000, I feel really good about myself. It is always my goal to hit that number of steps. However, some days I’m unable to accomplish my goal due to other tasks and events. Since wearing the Fitbit I definitely have increased my activity.
The Fitbit does add a hint of competition. The app allows you to follow your friends, family members, and coworkers. You are able to view their weekly steps. I used to compete with my family members to see who could get the most steps in. I was able to push myself harder when I was competing with others.
Today, many companies are using fitness trackers with their teams. They are not only promoting company wellness, but also creating cohesiveness among employees. It has shown to increase productivity as well. I know some companies, like Deloitte, have participated in challenges among internal departments. They have been known to give out really awesome prizes for the winners of their challenges, too.
Stand Up Desks
Stand up desks are another great option. Two of our employees have stand up desks. They have the option to stand whenever they want or can change the desk for a sitting position. It works perfectly for them. Some studies have shown an increase in productivity when using stand up desks. Standing desks allow for more flexibility. You can choose to jog in place, do squats, or do whatever feels nature. Many of these stand up desks can be customized and are easily adjustable for the correct height. One of the drawbacks to stand up desks is their price tag. Some of the desks can range from $300 to over a $1,000.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a desk, I recommend looking at Oristand. It is one of the newest stand up desks and is very affordable. Oristand is made of industrial grade cardboard and only costs you $25. Aside from their reasonable price, another great thing is it’s collapsible. You can take it anywhere and is designed to work on the desk you already have. If you choose not to use the desk, you can easily fold it flat and store it.
Of course there are many options for staying active at work than just stand up desks. You can also try treadmill desks, bike desks, or using a stability ball.
When you take your lunch break, try eating your lunch standing up. Or after you’ve eaten you could take a walk. The walk doesn’t have to be outside, it can be inside your building. If your building has an elevator, always choose the stairs. Walk up and down the stairs a few times throughout your day, just to get your body moving. It is a good idea to take numerous breaks throughout your day. Not only to be more active, but it also benefits your productivity and creativity.
If you’ve been sitting for one to two hours, get up and stretch. Keep your body active, even if that means more trips to the bathroom, drinking fountain, or visits to your coworkers’ desks. You can also set an alarm on your phone or computer. Sometimes when you are really focused on a task, you lose track of time. An alarm will force you to get up.
What about after work? When you are at home and want to catch up on your favorite TV shows, walk in place. That way you are still getting more daily steps in to beat your family/friends on your fitness tracker! You could also just stand while you watch TV. If standing up for an entire show is too much (especially for those hour long shows like The Bachelor😜), you can choose to do something only during commercial breaks.
Whether or not you believe that standing is the new smoking of our generation, we still need to be active. Our bodies are not meant to be inactive, especially not for hours at a time. We need to constantly remind ourselves to get up and move every hour if possible. That way we aren’t sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Let’s stop the sitting epidemic today!!