So many of our jobs require sitting, and not just for a few hours, for most of the day. If you are in IT like me, you can find yourself sitting in a chair for upwards of 10-12 hours a day, especially when there is an outage or emergency. For others, doing data entry, HR, project management and so many other fields, finding yourself glued to a desk chair is not uncommon. Even with the advances in ergonomics and really expensive hi-tech desk chairs, it is still not a good idea to sit in your chair all day. Although lunch breaks are great, it’s easy to just order something and eat and work at the same time…from our desk chairs.
Now is time to change that up. Sitting all day is not good for your health. Experts have stated that long terms of sitting down can lead to health risks and problems in the future. Some of the bad things that can happen if we sit all day long can include, lower back pain, poor posture, raised heart rate, weakening of the muscles that surround the spine and high blood pressure.
No Standing Desk? No Problem
However, there is good news… it’s not too late! You can change. If you find yourself sitting at a desk all day long and you can’t get a standing desk, try these tips and see if adding them into your day makes it exponentially better.
1. Get Up, Just Get Up
This is the first tip in this list because it is the easiest thing you can add. People hate change, so to start, I’m not asking you to do much more than just getting up out of your chair and taking a few deep breaths. Look around, you spend so much time sitting and staring straight ahead, see what’s going on around you. If this is all you can muster, doing it once will make you feel so much better.
2. Take a Stretch Break
Just standing up is a great start, but if you want to take it to the next level, get up and stretch. If you have no idea what kind of stretches to do, just start with bending over and touching your toes. Do a couple of squats in place and maybe a lunge or two. Click here for some more detailed office stretch routines that you can do – even today. When you get up and stretch, it does two things. First it will get your blood flowing. Increasing blood flow will help you feel better and more awake. Second, it will get your muscles and body engaged in doing something instead of being stuck in a static state. Pay close attention to stretches that focus on your spine, hands/wrists, and lower back.
3. Go Outside and Take a Brief Walk
At this point, you are doing at least two things to improve your desk job situation, getting up at least once an hour and stretching. Those two activities will make you feel so much better, however if you want to take it up yet another notch, get outside. Getting outside, hopefully into the sunshine, will get you some Vitamin D which will improve your mood. Going for a brief walk with also keep the blood flowing and help release calming chemicals that will make you feel good all over. If you can find a short nature walk, amongst the trees or in a nearby garden, it will elevate your mood even more. The best example of an organization providing this kind of surrounding is VMware. I worked for VMware for 4 years and the times I had to go to the HQ in Palo Alto, I was blown away at the detail that went into building the campus. There are trees everywhere and ponds, and turtles (famous VMware turles). It was so nice to take a break and walk.
4. Head to the Water Cooler
Lastly, I know it’s cliché, but head to the break area if your office has one or get up and call a colleague at your home office. You will have accomplished getting up and moving around all in one trip. Just don’t spend too much time on a break, or you might not want to go back to your desk!
Plan to Take a Stand
Take these precautions and ideas to heart and make a change in your office. Plan an hourly group walk, go stretch together, get up and turn around and talk to your cube mates. Your body (your back especially) will reap the benefits of avoiding becoming a desk chair potato. The literal and figurative steps you take can move your whole office toward a pattern of wellness, thereby increasing productivity and motivation for the whole team.