Wake up. Go to work. Sit all day. Exercise for one hour (maybe). Sleep. Repeat Monday through Friday.
Many Americans spend at least nine hours a day at work, glued to their chairs, stuck in this vicious cycle. Numerous studies show this behavior is hurting your health, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and death.
Some researchers believe sitting at work is the new smoking. A study published in BMJ Open found that if the majority people spent less than three hours a day sitting, the life expectancy in America would increase by about two years.
Studies suggest that the average adult spends about 55 percent of his or her day sedentary, which may be a conservative estimate. And those who are obese likely spend 2.5 more hours a day sitting compared to leaner individuals.
If you think you’re off the hook because you’re dedicated to a daily exercise routine, think again. Studies show even regular exercise won’t undo the harmful effects of sitting at work all day. It’s simple: Our bodies are not designed to be sitting as much as we do. It’s time we get up, get moving, and get healthy. Even small changes to your routine can make a big difference.
Ditch your chair for a stability ball. Sitting on a stability ball requires making small movements throughout the day. By making the switch, you can expect to burn an extra 30 calories a day, according to research, which adds up to 150 calories per week. Plus, sitting on a stability ball challenges your core muscles, improves your posture, and can be a lot more fun than sitting in a chair.
Invest in a stand-up desk. If you work from home or your company allows it, investing in a stand-up desk can be worth your while. You may even find you have more energy and see an increase in your productivity, all while burning calories and strengthening your core and leg muscles. Consult a physician before you make the investment. Certain health conditions may not make it the best option.
Invest in stationary pedals under your desk. If the stand-up desk isn’t for you, and you consider yourself a skilled multi-tasker, you can purchase a portable pedal machine to put under your desk. It’s like riding a bike while doing work and can be purchased for as little as $20 online.
Take walking breaks. If your mental breaks usually involve surfing the Web, switch it up and take a walk. You’ll find it’s more refreshing, mentally and physically. For a 150-pound person, a 10-minute power walk at four miles per hour burns about 58 calories and increases productivity afterwards.
If possible, walk to and from work. If you live in a city and are accustomed to using public transportation to get to the office, walk instead. You’ll log fewer hours in sitting in your chair and get an adrenaline boost from the exercise. If you aren’t within walking distance to your office, park in the back of the parking lot to increase daily movement.
Get up and stretch. Sitting at work all day tightens up your muscles, so it’s a good idea to stretch it out every once and while. A few stretching sessions a week can help increase your flexibility, which is linked to reduced muscle tension, increased relaxation, improved posture and functional ability, relief of lower back pain, and reduced possibility of injury.