My office has a sensor that turns the light off after a prolonged absence of movement. The light sometimes switches off while I am busily clicking my computer keyboard. Yes, I’m working but seemingly inert. My usual response to “lights out” is to wave my arms above my head. Sometimes I just keep working in the dark. What I really should do is get up and move.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee (across all civilian occupations) spends about 31 percent of working hours seated and the rest of the workday standing or moving. However, some office jobs are more sedentary. For instance, a computer programmer spends about 90 percent of the day sitting, while a human resource manager sits about 75 percent of the workday.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a sedentary lifestyle can be a contributing factor in chronic disease. Inactivity can increase the risk of obesity, coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and falls. Being more active can help strengthen muscles, burn calories and stimulate circulation.
If you have a desk job, what are some ways to increase movement at work? Try these suggestions:
- Get up from your chair at least once each hour. Set a timer on your computer or phone if you need a reminder. According to Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, an even better strategy is to divide each half-hour in the following way: Sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and move around for two.
- Stand up when you talk on the phone. Walk around while you chat. If you don’t have much space to move, do something other than movement, such as balancing on one leg for 10 seconds while holding onto the back of a sturdy chair.
- Add extra steps where you can. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther from the office door. Utilize a restroom on another floor. When printing documents, select a printer that’s farther away from your desk.
- Talk with co-workers face to face. Ditch email as a first response. Find the time to walk over to your colleague’s desk. Then stand while you talk.
- Make a daily appointment with yourself to walk at lunchtime. Invite a buddy or two to walk with you. Having an exercise partner keeps you accountable.
- Check out other options with your employer. A standing desk or yoga ball chair can add variety by providing a change in posture and strengthening core muscles.
The risks from too much sitting increases with age. Sedentary behavior in adults over age 60 can decrease their ability to perform life skills needs for independence. According to one study, each hour of sedentary behavior in older adults is associated with 46 percent greater odds of disability with activities of daily living, even when adjusted for moderate-vigorous activity and health factors.
If you or someone you know needs help to live independently or a companion to help them stay active, ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care can help. Trained caregivers provide in-home assistance with bathing, transfers, meal preparation, errands and medication reminders. Contact us today for more information.