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How do you spend your day at work? If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have a job where you’re sitting at a desk for most of the day and break up that time by sitting in conference rooms for meetings.

With a societal shift toward technology-based jobs and away from manufacturing and skilled trades, many of us are sedentary for a majority of our workday and then we go home and maybe spend another hour or two watching TV or sitting around the house after our gym time.

A growing body of research shows that all this sitting around is detrimental to our health. All you have to do is search online for the ill effects of sitting and you’ll access scores of articles and research papers that support this theory with stats. In one study from the University of South Carolina, adult men who reported sitting more than 23 hours a week at work and at home had a 64% greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who sat 11 hours or fewer each week. The kicker is that these at-risk men also said they exercised routinely.

You can dig as deeply as you wish to find connections between sitting and poor health. And even if you exercise on a regular basis, it’s not enough to counteract the negative biochemical changes that occur when you sit versus stand and move.

So what can you do to stay more active during your day?

  • Take the stairs: Always look for opportunities for more physical exertion when you’re going to and moving around the office. This means taking the stairs instead of the elevator and possibly quickening your pace up them. It also means choosing a parking spot that’s farther away from the front door. Unless you’re physically limited or the weather is horrible (and we’re not ready to let that second one count as an excuse all the time), there’s no reason you can’t take some extra steps to get inside your office building.
  • Take the long way to your destination: When you’re moving around your office during the day don’t follow the shortest route that you’ve become accustomed to. Walk out of your way to reach your destination and then walk quicker if you’re concerned about being late for a meeting. This gets you out of your comfortable routine and actually makes you think about what you’re doing instead of ambling around in a haze. There are mental and physical benefits to this practice.
  • Break up your routine every hour: Force yourself from your desk for a few minutes every hour. Maybe this involves getting a glass of water or talking to someone in the office. On that last note, bring back face-to-face communication by avoiding the email and getting up to visit coworkers at their desk. Besides the benefits of the exercise, you’ll find that you often save time hashing out issues through personal conversations than by pecking away on your keyboard. In addition to this, take time for brisk walks around the parking lot, especially when you need to make a personal phone call.
  • Adjust how you work: Many people are opting for standing desks in the workplace and companies are supporting the transition as they become aware of the ill effects of sitting all day. Standing while you work keeps your blood flowing to all parts of your body to keep you sharper mentally. Stand up during meetings, too. We’ve all been in yawn-fest gatherings where no one is into it. Standing and moving while you meet keeps you engaged and might even lead to more productive meetings if everyone is shaken from their office haze. When you want to sit at your desk, consider using an exercise ball instead of a chair. Balancing on an exercise ball naturally improves your posture and improves your core strength in the process.

It doesn’t take much to shake up your work day and invigorate it with more activity. You don’t have to tackle all of this at once. Small, steady changes are beneficial. So take a look at how much time you spend sitting at work and at home each day and resolve to reduce that time every week.

About the author

Matt Mund is the owner and founder of Mission Fitness. He is dedicated to helping his clients of all fitness levels achieve their personal goals

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