Scientists have been sounding a warning about the correlation between sedentary lifestyles and poor health for years. That’s why we’re all advised to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week. However, you can’t afford to “rest on your laurels” if you manage it. In fact, you can’t afford to rest too long on anything...
Inactivity, a modern curse
There are numerous research articles and newspaper reports that tell us that sitting is slowly killing us. It causes everything from increased risks of cancer, cardiovascular problems, glucose metabolism and blood fat problems even in those of us who are otherwise “fit” and not overweight.
What can we do?
Most of us work in an office, at a desk; we get to work sitting in a car, bus or train and when we get home we collapse, exhausted in front of the TV and “Veg-out” for an hour or two before bed. If we’re lucky or motivated or both, we get to put in our 30 mins, three times a week of exercise but apparently that’s not enough. We need to move more during the day.
How to add more movement to your day
I’ve written a post on how to easily incorporate some more exercise into your busy workday with tips like parking furthest away from the car park exit and taking the stairs instead of the escalator and more besides. You can read it here.
However, that doesn’t address the bulk of your time at work and the first and easiest improvement to make, is to stand up to work. I know, it’s definitely a paradigm shift, but it’s not as hard as you think.
Going From Sitting to Standing
Standing desks are all the rage and many of them are super expensive because they’re adjustable and can be quickly switched from standing to sitting if you get tired. The problem with the more affordable ones is that they don’t adjust and I can’t stand all day, day in and day out.
I’m happy to stand for two hours but then I get tired and want to sit down for an hour. The solution? Here’s my home-made, simple, yet foldaway ‘standing desk’ made from two office objects. Here is how it works:
- My hubby cut me a clear Perspex rectangle 50cm by 40cm. Alternatively you could use some rigid board or a piece of timber. It must be strong enough to allow you to place your keyboard and mouse on it without it sagging or bending.
- I simply sit this Perspex on top of my waste paper bin along with my keyboard and mouse (which are cordless, so easy to move). The bin is a woven cube and thus light and is 30cm by 30cm by 30cm.
- I have a monitor (computer screen) that can tilt and move up and down. It’s limited in its range but enough so I can lift the screen to eye height whilst I stand. This avoids my neck bending forward in that hunched-over position for hours, that is damaging to my upper back.
- I stand and write for around 2 hours. By then, I find I get tired, so I simply remove the Perspex which stores neatly by the side of my desk and return my waste bin, keyboard and mouse to their usual spots. Then I sit for a couple of hours.
This easy and temporary standing desk avoids me being seated for the whole day whilst I write yet, doesn’t commit me to standing all day. I find I’m less stiff by the end of the day and less at risk of heart disease and diabetes, which are associated with prolonged sitting.
But don’t forget to move
Even standing can have its hazards if you don’t move. Locking your knees and being immobile for several hours can cause leg pains and discourage you from persisting. So move a little; do a little wiggle and walk away for a few steps from time to time to keep the blood circulating.
Aside from reducing your risk of death from just about all causes, standing while working seems to keep you more alert, it encourages you to move more and many people have found that their weight normalises without recourse to dieting. Try a standing meeting. I think you’ll find that the meetings take less time and are more focused, making you and your colleagues more productive.
The bottom line
Stand up for good health!