Reducing Health Risks at Work
It is no secret that having a sedentary job can be bad for your health. Issues such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes have all been linked to sitting and inactivity for prolonged periods of time. A study recently released by scientists from Columbia University in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported some shocking information: there is a correlation between those who sit for prolonged periods of time (30 or more minutes) and early death. In addition, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who sit for 11 or more hours a day are 40 percent more likely to die within three years than those who are seated for less than four hours a day. These statistics should be concerning to all adults; however, those who spend their entire workday confined to a desk should be especially alarmed by this data and take preventative action.
Fortunately, there are ways to lower these statistics and improve your health despite having a nine to five desk job. If your job requires you to work from your desk, take a look at the following ways to reduce health risks related to inactivity.
Set an alarm: Do you frequently get lost in your work and remain inactive at your desk for hours on end? If so, consider setting alarms on your phone or computer that serve as reminders to get up, walk around and stretch your limbs several times throughout the workday. After a while, your body will adjust to this new routine, eliminating the need to set an alarm.
Two birds, one phone: Instead of sitting at your desk while you are talking on the phone, stand up, walk around, or even pace for the duration of the conversation. The person on the other end of the phone will never know that you were using their conversation as an opportunity to get out of your seat, and you will have made a healthy choice while getting work done.
Furniture swap: Make an investment in your health by swapping out traditional office furniture for furniture that will keep you moving throughout the day. Swap your desk chair for a balance ball, your office desk for a sit/stand desk, and your break room table for a bar height table that gives employees the option to stand during their lunch hour. Making these simple furniture swaps can encourage movement and have a positive impact on your physical health.
Don’t eat at your desk: Consider the times throughout the workday that you normally snack or eat a meal, and determine how you can build movement into those breaks. One idea is emptying the snack drawer in your desk and storing your lunch and snacks in the break room instead. Snack drawers encourage you to stay seated throughout the day, while storing food in the break room encourages you to move around (with the added bonus of socializing with your coworkers).
Eliminate emails (when possible): How many times a day do you communicate via email with a co-worker whose desk you could easily walk to? While there are times that an email is necessary to share documents and files, you should take advantage of a coworker’s close proximity and walk to their desk if you have a question, comment or concern to share with them.
Count your steps: One way to keep yourself accountable for moving throughout the day is by utilizing a Fitbit, or a similar device. Along with tracking other health and fitness information, Fitbits count and record your steps. You may think that you are maintaining a healthy level of activity throughout the day, but the numbers on your Fitbit may reflect otherwise. Reduce your health risks by setting step goals while you are at work, and finding ways to reach them.
While the research that links inactivity to severe health issues is jarring, there are ways to increase your activity and improve your health throughout the workday.