People who sit at a desk all day for their job aren’t uncommon, but there has been an increasing number of studies and a significant amount of research that’s come out in recent years showing just how damaging this can be.
You might not even think much of the fact that you work a sedentary job because of how common it is, but it can put you at a greater risk of many health problems, most of which can be incredibly serious, including a higher risk of heart-related issues.
Despite how scary the research can be regarding sedentary lifestyles, if that’s what your job calls for, you may feel like you don’t have a lot of control over things, but you do.
You can be healthier at work, and have a healthier lifestyle overall, but it requires some strategic planning and dedication.
The following are some of the most realistic and effective things you can do to avoid the pitfalls and risks of a sedentary work lifestyle.
Think About What You’re Eating and Drinking
First and foremost, one of the best things you can do for your health and wellness, especially if you have a sedentary job or overall lifestyle, is change your diet.
Even if you don’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of being active on the job, you do have control over the food and drinks you’re consuming throughout your day.
Make small changes, such as bringing your lunch instead of going out, and swap things like sodas or sugary coffee drinks for something like green tea.
Make a conscious decision not just to eat well, but also keep track of what you’re eating.
Look at your calories each day so that you can be sure you’re not eating more than you’re able to burn in a day. This is important even if you’re not trying to lose weight, but just want to maintain your current weight.
You Can’t Rely On Working Out Alone
A lot of people with a mostly sedentary lifestyle tend to think that if they work out several times a week, it will counteract the effects of sitting all day.
Sure, working out is great, and it’s something you should be doing at least four times a week, but that alone isn’t enough if you’re spending the majority of your day sitting.
Research shows that even if you exercise regularly, but you’re a sedentary worker, you’re at the same level of risk for developing health risks as people who didn’t exercise regularly.
It’s still extremely important to make sure you’re moving all day.
Also, when you are working out, make sure you’re doing effective exercises. It’s recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week, or 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise three days a week, and you should also do resistance exercises or lift weights.
Track Your Steps
We tend to overestimate how active we are in a day, but wearing a step tracker or activity tracker can help you gain a realistic view of how much you’re moving, and how much more you need to do.
You should aim for 10,000 steps a day, and even if you can’t move every hour, you can try to pack in as many steps as you can when you have the chance, as an attainable way to stay healthier at work.
For example, park further away from the door of your work, or walk around the office every hour or every few hours. You’ll be surprised at how much it will add up and help you live a healthier lifestyle at work.
If you track your steps, you’ll also be challenging yourself to find other opportunities to walk more. For example, you could make phone calls while you walk around your work area, or you could use the restroom in a different part of your office from what’s closest to you.
You can also use a fitness and activity tracker to set reminders for yourself when it’s time to move, and many will do this automatically.
Finally, a lot of times you’ll hear the recommendation that you should get a standing desk or sit on an exercise ball if you have a sedentary job, but this may not be realistic or ideal for your workplace.
If not, there are other options, and one of the best is to get a desk pedal
These little machines are inexpensive and fit discreetly under a desk so that you can move your legs throughout the day without even thinking much about it, and without drawing attention to yourself.