We all work a lot, but some of us don't realise the truly devastating effects of having a sedentary work life. There are things you can do to stop your work from shortening your life span though, and they really work!
Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression: You're 90% more likely to suffer from one of these diseases if you sit for more than 8 hours a day. With studies showing most Western office workings sit for more than 9 hours a day, the risks are terrifyingly real. Unfortunately, hitting the gym for an hour after work doesn't combat the negative effects of sitting all day either. The damage is already done to your arteries, cortisol levels, fat metabolism, and mental health.
It’s not all bad news though! There are effective ways to combat the detrimental effects of sedentary work. These tips are based on evidence-based strategies we know really work - now it's up to you to try them!
1. Get up from your desk every 90 minutes
As soon as you get up and walk a few metres, your body’s metabolic processes get kicked into gear. Your cortisol levels decrease as your body’s stress levels lower. If you go for a fast walk, endorphins kick in, and the mechanisms in your muscle that stimulate fat metabolism are enhanced. The curves in your spine are also restored to normal, and the ciliary muscle in your eyes relax.
Benefits: Decreased back pain, increased fat metabolism, decreased stress, increased ‘happy’ hormones, decrease eye strain, decreased headache.
2. Walk somewhere for lunch
After eating, insulin is excreted by the pancreas to balance blood sugar levels. Due to an as yet unknown mechanism, when we sit for long periods, our bodies produce increased amounts of insulin. This puts you at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you sit constantly and consistently without getting up.
Great news! By getting up and out of your chair, the pancreas is less stimulated to produce insulin. So go out and eat in a park and walk back to work (or even outside your office building)
If you’re working on something particularly stressful, your blood flow becomes restricted to the intestines in the fight or flight response. This makes digestion harder, and causes food to sit stagnant, causing gas and bloating. No thanks! Take just 10 minutes on you lunch break to get away from work, and combat the stress response. It will help you digest your food!
Recent research found those who sat for very long periods of time are twice as likely to develop diabetes and heart disease, than those who move around throughout the day.
3. Try a standing desk for 70% of your day
They’re not just trendy, they really work!
- A recent study showed a 32% decrease in back pain in those with standing desks.
- We also know standing helps stimulate the metabolic processes, making fatty deposits in your arteries (artherosclerosis) that leads to heart disease less likely.
- Standing and moving helps stimulate production of endorphins and prevent the stress response to be activated when it’s not needed, like when you’re at work.
- Studies are also finding you’re more productive, can make faster decisions and have better mental acuity when standing.
You have to work, and your work involves an office. I get it. But modern science is proving traditional work lives are really detrimental to our health. These 3 small changes can really make a difference to your health; both mental and physical - so why not give them a go?
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