Does your desk job keep you sedentary? Here’s how to stay active during the 9-5!

Oct10th 2020

One of the many benefits of physical therapy is that it helps show you how physical activity is medicine! Our physical therapy team strongly believes that the human body was meant to move, and when it doesn’t, things start to break down. Unfortunately, the modern environment isn’t great for promoting regular physical activity. Many of us sit in chairs for most the workday, and we rely on computers and the internet to do the bulk of our occupational duties.

Incredibly, sitting for too long has been linked to a wide range of health problems—including vascular damage in the legs, heart disease, and early mortality. A 2018 research paper published in the American Journal of Nursing also found that sitting for too long (e.g., seven to eight hours per day) can have detrimental effects on your health even if you exercise regularly!

Want to stay more active during your day job? Try these five tips from The Physical Therapy Zone to get moving.

1. Invest in an Adjustable Stand Up Desk

If your workspace (and perhaps your office manager or human resources department) allows it, consider arranging your desk into an adjustable sit to stand workstation. The ability to stand more at work has been shown to boost productivity and psychological health in research studies, including 2018 randomized controlled trial published in BMJ.

2. Take Your Meetings and Lunch Breaks On the Road

Should we be choosing convenience over our health? Maybe not so often! Instead of shooting an email or text to your colleague, get up and walk to their office to deliver the message directly. Likewise, talk to your peers about taking more phone calls and meetings “in transit” (e.g., while going for a walk around the building). Of course, privacy matters, so you shouldn’t be discussing sensitive issues in places where people may overhear it. But even if you just try to take a few laps around the building during your lunchtime, you’ll definitely be getting yourself out of your seat more often.

3. Drink a Lot of Water

Drinking water keeps your tissues well-perfused, your joints well-lubricated, and your bladder, well, full! You’ll be naturally prompted to get up and walk more since you’ll need more bathroom breaks. So, keep a glass or steel water bottle at your desk and drink up!

4. Set Movement Reminders

It’s so easy to get caught up in your work. But sitting for more than an hour at a time can be hard on your body and can exacerbate or increase the risk of health problems like neck pain, back pain, and degenerative disc disease.

So, set a timer to go off at least once per hour. Use this time to take a brief movement break—a few stretches or exercises in your office or a stroll down the hall. A physical therapist can offer individualized guidance for improving your posture, optimizing your ergonomic set-up, and establishing a home exercise program—or work exercise program, for that matter! Our physical therapy staff is also trained in work hardening programs. We can help you heal from and prevent work-related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica.

5. Wear a Pedometer

We know from research studies that wearing a pedometer encourages people to walk more throughout the day—by as much as a mile in some cases! Consider discreetly adding one to your work attire to inspire you to move more while you’re on the clock. Don’t feel like wearing a pricey gadget? You can buy inexpensive ones online or in retail stores.

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