According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 2 million people die yearly from physical inactivity. The WHO cautions that staying seated for too long may be among the top 10 causes of death.
However, millions of Americans have no choice but to remain chained to their desks if they hope to pay their ever-rising rents. Worse, many have more than one job that forces them to stay seated for too long each day. What can you do? Here are six tips for how to stay healthy if you work a sedentary job.
1. Take Advantage Of Workplace Wellness Plans
More workplaces today recognize the value of healthy employees and invest in their care through various wellness programs. Those with large enough facilities may install an onsite gym; others may form alliances with area facilities to give staff members discounted or free membership. If your employer offers such an amenity, please take advantage.
Studies show the impact such programs have. A recent study published in JAMA evaluated 20 workplaces with onsite wellness programs compared to 140 that did not. After 18 months, the wellness program group reported an increase in physical activity and greater participation in weight management than those who didn’t have access to this amenity.
It makes sense. Workers who have already commuted home after a long day are less likely to drum up the energy to find a sitter for the kids and hit the gym in the evening. Conversely, those who can squeeze in a workout on the clock or during their break can do so and still make it to daycare on time to pick up the littles when their shifts end.
2. Set Move Reminders
Nearly everyone has a cellphone, and even old-fashioned flip models feature alarms. Set a chime to go off every hour and use it as a Pavlovian reminder to get up and move. You don’t have to run sprints around the office complex, but you can stand, stroll over to the water cooler, go up and down the stairs, or perform a few stretches to get your blood circulating.
If you need something fancier, you’ll find no shortage of reminder apps, many of which are free. Versions like BZ Reminder help you differentiate and prioritize tasks. Google Keep uses location to remind you of certain things at particular stops – like “pick up milk” while you’re at the grocery store.
3. Investigate New Seating Arrangements
Do you have to use the same boring desk chair as everyone else? Talk to your HR department and discover your options for requesting something different and better.
For example, according to some users, variable-height desks enable you to stand up throughout the day to improve circulation and alleviate chronic pain. Sitting on an inflatable exercise ball encourages more movement as you shift to keep your balance, engaging your core muscles.
4. Inquire About Telecommuting Options
How can telecommuting make you less sedentary? It could make a huge difference in your overall movement patterns if you’re introverted.
Consider this: would you get up and do a five-minute kickboxing workout on an app to get your blood flowing at the office? Unless you have a workplace gym, probably not – you’d look awfully silly punching away in your suit skirt and stilettos. However, you can dress comfortably at home and get up for periodic movement breaks without catching funny looks.
If nothing else, telecommuting a few days a week could carve out a few extra hours in your day. That’s time you can use for fitness.
5. Run Errands
Do you raise your hand when the boss needs someone to run to the post office? Taking on too much “gopher” work can cause promotion concerns, especially if you’re female – they still pick up many workplace housekeeping tasks that can stifle their progression. However, this trick will give you more movement if your primary goal is getting in shape.
Better yet, walk or bike those errands when you have the chance. You’ll get up your physical activity quotient while reducing carbon emissions.
How To Stay Healthy When You Work A Sedentary Job
A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of various health disorders. You owe it to yourself to take proactive steps, as no one will act to safeguard your well-being besides you. Follow the five tips above to stay healthy when you work a sedentary job. Your career need not dictate your physical fitness level.