Sioux Falls Regional Extension Center News

Stay active through the work day

by Megan Sexton MS, RD, LN

Research conducted in the last few years is indicating that too much sitting is bad for our health.  Sit-time was originally identified as a contributing factor to obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease but research started to focus on the amount of time people spend sitting, regardless of their physical activity level.  A large study compared people who spent 2 hours a night watching TV to others who watched 4 hours a night.  They found that the greater TV watchers were 125% more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, like chest pain or a heart attack.

Similar studies have found the same health risks associated with other extended sitting such as at a desk or jobs involving driving for long periods of time.  Additionally, many of the studies have demonstrated that an increased fitness level does not offset the risks.  This means that a marathon runner with a 9am-5pm desk job has an additional risk of cardiovascular disease.  The solution seems to be increasing overall movement throughout the day.  So set the example in your office place by adopting behaviors to limit sit-time.

  • Look for Opportunities to Stand –

Stand at every chance you can.  Take phone calls standing, edit a draft with a clip board and chat with your colleagues over coffee while standing.  You burn more calories, hold a better posture and utilize different muscles when you stand.

  • Take Fitness Breaks –

Use your breaks more wisely by increasing the amount of your walking.  Make a habit of using the restroom and drinking fountain furthest away from your desk.  If you are feeling tired or restless go for a 10 minute walk.  It will increase your energy, better your attention, and stretch out your muscles.

  • Trade your Chair for a Fitness Ball –

An exercise ball is unstable so to stay seated your abdominal and back muscles must be engaged the entire time.  This burns calories, strengthens muscles, and makes it much more difficult to have a poor posture at your desk.

  • Use Lunch to your Advantage –

It takes most of us less than 10 minutes to eat a meal, so use the extra time on your lunch hour to get active.  Take a social walk with a colleague to catch up or find a quiet place to stretch and relax your mind and muscles.  If you have plans to eat out for lunch choose a restaurant within walking distance.

  • Conduct More Fit Meetings –

If the meeting is small and the topics allow take your meeting on the move!  Walking while you discuss can be very productive for your business and body.  If the group is too large or the materials needed won’t go on the move easily, break your meeting up with at least a 10 minute break for every hour of meeting.  Everyone will appreciate the time to stretch, refill drinks and use the restroom without missing important information.  Lead by example by moving around yourself, or better yet have an activity planned to get everyone moving!

  • Commute Smarter – If the weather and distance allow beginning biking or walking to work sometimes.  If driving is unavoidable park further from the entrance and always use the stairs instead of an elevator.
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