“Getting Up and Moving Around at Work” has been my intended topic for this week, but I find it amusing that I’m writing it while standing because my hip is sore. I’m blaming the high heels I wore to a weekend wedding, though it could have been the Cupid Shuffle at the reception!
The research is in, and it shows just how bad prolonged sitting at a desk is for our health, our productivity and our happiness. Too much sitting increases obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and depression; and decreases metabolism, circulation and energy levels. This challenge is compounded by the fact that so much of our leisure time is also spent sitting – driving, watching TV, sitting at home computers, eating, etc. This sedentary and seated lifestyle is taking a toll on our bodies. On a personal note, last winter I went to the Chiropractor because of intense lower back pain, and sitting too long at my desk was part of the problem.
There is a lot of information out there right now supporting standing-while-working and increased activity during the workday. Standing up and moving around counteracts those negative physical effects of prolonged sitting. There are also productivity benefits to standing and moving around (just google “productivity benefits of standing work stations”). My energy and focus increase, while my stress decreases and my mood improves. Just by standing and moving around.
If you need more convincing, please do your own research – I did and I was amazed. But how to incorporate this strategy into our day? Try these:
1. Just Pay Attention. Making a change makes us pay attention to our current situation, and this usually leads to increased engagement and productivity.
2. Include activity breaks in your blocked work time. The Pomodoro Technique suggests 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break; I’ve also read 50 / 10. The premise is that our minds focus for a certain amount of time (25 minutes), and then our mind and our body need a break (and not just switching over to Facebook, or checking our phone). A break means getting up and moving, stretching, breathing deeply. My phone’s timer App can remind me to take my 5 minutes, or I can use my microwave timer if I’m home – it’s great because I have to get up to turn it off! The 5 minute break could be standing, stretching, walking around the office; or if you work from home, play with the dog, toss in a load of laundry, make a cup of tea, etc. Track your progress with a FitBit or activity bracelet.
3. Stay hydrated: I have learned a lot since my first trip to the chiropractor last winter, including the fact that I was chronically dehydrated. Add more water to your day, and you will get up and move a lot more, to re-fill your water bottle, and to use the wash room!
4. Run your own errands. Technology is great and convenient, but often it replaces actual activity. Yes, you could send someone an email, but you could also get up and walk over to their work space. Or drop off papers instead of using interoffice mail, or take a walk at lunch instead of ordering in.
5. Consider a standing Work Space, or other options. The standing work space is gaining popularity (go to Amazon.com and check out the variety of options!). We created standing work spaces in our home (here is what I am using right now), and more traditional offices are offering standing options, too. We don’t need to only stand, though – my massage therapist reminded me that standing all day could have its own negative effects. So, change up your space, and include both seated and standing options.
Stand Up! Don’t let that desk chair do you in, Get Up and Move Around to Feel Better and Work Better!