86% of Americans have sedentary jobs. This rise in being sat down all day is largely down to the use of the Internet and more sophisticated machines being able to do jobs for us, while we operate them from our desks. Spending such large quantities of time sitting is damaging our health, with Scientific America reporting that people who sit for more than half the day double their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. There are ways to combat this and increase activity in a sedentary job, including going for a walk in your break and introducing social fitness apps as a source of motivation. These apps encourage colleagues to team up for some friendly competition to see who can be the most active.
While most people in sedentary jobs don’t like to be sitting for prolonged periods, most don’t realize just how badly their health is being affected. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can often lead to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The ‘sitting disease’ includes the ill-effects of a largely sedentary lifestyle, and studies have found that there’s an increased risk of diseases and death by up to 94% in people who are sedentary for long periods. Muscle degeneration, stiffness and back pain are also common complaints. More worryingly, if you exercise regularly but still spend your workday sitting for a long time, it’s unlikely to counteract the effects and may earn you the title ‘active couch potato’. This means it’s vital to spend more time standing up and moving around.
Working in an office and sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is quite a common work routine. This modern lifestyle is largely inactive, unhealthy and undesirable. It’s recommended that you should move away from your workstation every 30-60 minutes and stretch your legs or simply stand up, this helps to avoid the ‘sitting disease’. If you usually drive to work or use public transport, try parking slightly further away or getting off a stop early, so that you include some walking in your day. Using stairs in an office instead of using an elevator, and walking to see a colleague, as opposed to sending an email or phoning them, are the easy way to increase your activity level during your working day.
It’s usually a little easier to include some fitness into your workday if you work from home. Writers, artists and web designers are common examples and can have a flexible work pattern to ensure exercise and movement is included. You could plan your day so that you work for 2-3 hours in the morning and then go to the gym, go for a walk or do some housework for 30-60 minutes, and then carry on with your work for another 2-3 hours. Repeating this pattern throughout your workday means your work won’t suffer, and neither will your health.
Artists used to spend their days standing in front of an easel and wandering around to find a great spot that they could translate onto their canvas. Even this type of job has evolved with technology. Artists can now use computers and tablets to make their creations, whether they are starting out in the industry by practicing simple sketches of people or painting iconic masterpieces. These sedentary methods are great for the artists' creativity, but not so promising for their health. A good way for artists to move around more in their job is to get back outside with a sketchbook and pencil, or canvas and paint, and draw quick sketches on the go. Getting involved in large-scale murals and street art is another way to be active while creating. Make sure you have consent for this type of art, as some become iconic sightseeing spots, while others are painted over and considered vandalism.
It may seem difficult to get away from your work for short, regular breaks, but it’s essential if you want to protect your health. Find little changes to make in your normal routine, and get your colleagues involved to help motivate each other. If you work from home, the flexibility that often comes with your work pattern makes it a little easier to take a step back from the screen, or canvas, and regularly move about. Not only will you reap the benefits of losing weight and feeling fitter, but you’ll also be looking after your long-term health too.