...according to Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. But, not all sitting is bad for your health, provided it’s done right, says Pearl Mathias
As humans, we were built to stand upright. Everything within our bodies functions better that way, from cardiovascular health and bowel movements to our energy levels. But, given the majorly sedentary lifestyles we lead today, we’re predisposed to developing various physical as well as mental issues if we sit for long hours every day. So, whether you’re in the driver’s seat, slouching on the couch or parked at your desk for hours on end, here are a few things you can change about the way you’re sitting. We’re bringing you five ways to stay healthy if you sit a lot.
Check your posture
You either suffer from sharp neck and shoulder pain or you haven’t felt the ill-effects of poor posture yet, and both are reason enough to pay some attention to the way you sit. If you find yourself being drawn to your screen, avoid craning your neck forward as this creates an imbalance in your neck and spine. In order to avoid the ‘office chair hunch’, try to keep your back straight against your chair and your shoulders tall. While sitting, keep your knees in line with your hips or slightly above, and make sure that your feet rest properly on the ground. If not, use a footrest.
Take a stand
If you’re completely absorbed in completing a report on time or crossing another task off your list, the last thing you’ll think of doing is stepping away from your desk. But, it’s vital that you do so in order to avoid the nasty implications of staying put all day long. One thing that works for us is to consume an entire bottle of water in an hour. This will make you move away from your desk, even if it’s to refill it or to simply to use the restroom. This may sound (and look) weird, but if possible, try standing at your desk and working for some portion of the day. It helps keep your posture in check, while not adding to the hours that you are left sitting. But, make sure that you don’t slouch when you stand or it won’t be worth it at all.
All work and no play
...makes Tom a bad employee. Although it’s not professional to while away your office hours unwinding, it’s essential to take some time out in between tasks to get a breather. Step away from your desk at least once an hour or simply take a few minutes to catch up with colleagues or check media feeds. But, make sure you’re not frequently spotted ‘chilling’ during work hours or this will give you a bad rep. An easier way to unwind is to simply look away from your screen for five minutes or take a walk down the corridor.
On the move
The point we’re trying to make is that you need to get up and move about during work hours. Do a few jumping jacks if you’re fortunate to have that kind of space. Even something as simple as touching your toes while sitting can rectify the negatives of being seated for long hours. If you have a meeting scheduled for the day, why not get started with it on the move? Do this while in the elevator or even at an open space as opposed to the dull conference room, which doesn’t do much to perk up employees. And, unless you work on the higher levels of a high-rise building, consider taking the stairs to get around.
Set a goal
By this, we mean that if you’re serious about not letting your sitting habits affect you, consider installing a pedometer application on your smart phone. This helps to track your footsteps and gives you a goal during the day as well as a sense of achievement (or almost) at the end of it. Making simple changes such as stepping outside to take a phone call or using a portion of your lunch hour to take a walk can contribute to keeping you healthy.