Walk it out, for your health

Monday December 9, 2013

During the last few decades, as computer and automated technology has become the norm, the reliance on manual labor has fallen dramatically. The typical workplace is now filled with employees sitting at a desk, working in front of a computer. While there are still many jobs that require frequent physical exertion, there are many more that require almost none, which new research suggest may be harmful to your health.

The Mayo Clinic says that excessive sitting can be associated with increased risk of obesity, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol levels as well as increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Also, the research suggests that a few hours a week in the gym does not offset the risk created by excessive sitting. Sounds pretty grim, right? However, there are a few steps you can take to avoid this problem of the modern workplace.

One method, and a favorite of mine, is to schedule a break every hour just so I can take a few laps around the track. This tactic is especially helpful if you know you’re going to be sitting for a prolonged period of time. I suggest allotting yourself 5 to 10 minutes every hour where you completely step away from the desk and walk around the office. An even better alternative if the weather is nice is to go outside and spend a few minutes in the sun.

Another option is to stand every time you make or receive a phone call. And if standing for phone calls just isn’t enough, research a standing desk station, which will enable you to be on your feet most of the day. For meetings with colleagues, try a group walk instead of everyone being hunched around a conference table.

For even more motivation, get a coworker and schedule your walking breaks together. By incorporating these tips into your workplace, you’ll be moving more, and hopefully more productive throughout the day.