The festive season brings with it extra food and sometimes unwelcome added weight! As you head back to work after the summer holiday break, it is a good time to rethink how you can stay more active in the workplace.
The problem we often experience with work is that we are often sitting at the computer for long periods of time. Studies have found that sitting for too long (more than 60% of your waking hours) and being inactive or sedentary can play a direct role in poor health and early death, with higher rates chronic disease including of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Office workers who sit for long periods are also at higher risk of lower back pain, neck pain, and associated headaches.
The issues are 2-fold.
Firstly, there is the problem of sedentary behaviour – muscles not moving, sluggish blood flow throughout the body because of lack of movement and poor muscle activation. As a result, you can experience increased risk of blood glucose levels and increased risk of the onset of chronic diseases.
Secondly, sitting for long periods of time changes the biomechanics of the lumbar spine (lower back) with reduced lumbar lordosis of the lower back, shortened hamstrings, and overstretched and weakened muscles around the lumbopelvic region. Importantly, prolonged periods of sitting exert excessive and prolonged pressure through the lumbar discs. The cervical spine (or neck) also changes position as the head comes forward to look at the screen and can initiate headaches.
Studies have also shown that office workers who stand and move around more at work have improved productivity and concentration over their work colleagues
Four tips to reduce your sedentary time sitting at a desk:
- Refresh your thinking about your “desk job” – desk jobs do not have to be sitting jobs. Stand when you can – taking a phone call.
- Be brave enough to exercise in the office – close the door if you have one – it will help you feel more energetic and reduce pain.
- Have standing and walking meetings with colleagues.
- Start a lunchtime walking group.
Here are a few exercises to try:
Sit to stand
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your arms in front of your chest.
- Stand up, then slowly sit back down keeping your arms across your chest.
- Repeat x10
Wall push -up
- Stand up straight facing a wall and place the palms of your hands on the wall at shoulder height and slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Keep your body straight, tightening the buttock muscles.
- Bend your elbows, taking your chest towards the wall.
- Make sure you keep a straight line from your feet to the top of your head.
- Straighten your arms back out again, lifting your chest away from the wall.
- Repeat x 10
- Stand with your back against a wall and bend your knees a little.
- Your shoulders and head should be touching the wall.
- Start with your upper arms at your side with your elbows bent.
- Your wrists and forearms should be touching the wall.
- Bring your arms up as high as you can get them, without any of your body parts coming away from the wall.
- When you reach as far as you can, slide the arms back down to the start position.
- Repeat x 10
Hope this helps,Deb