Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stand Up for Health

     Between the commute to work and a sedentary job, many of us log in more than ten hours of sitting a day. Studies show that sitting still for too long causes changes in our bodies—like less blood flow, which can lead to fat build up in the blood stream and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Not to mention what a lack of motion does for our backs, muscles, and metabolism.

     “All of us need to exercise more. Our lives are busier, our workdays extend from office to home, and compared to our grandparents, we’re too sedentary,” says Cindy Earle, RN and community health education coordinator at Meritus Health. Humans after all, were designed to walk, and in this technology era, we’re doing far less of it. 

     But commuting and working leaves little time to be more active—unless you think outside the box. A new book, The First 20 Minutes, says if you do nothing else, you should stand up at your desk every 20 minutes for just two minutes. Even the slightest muscle movement can help break up fat in the blood stream.

Below are simple ways for time-crunched workers to combat a sedentary lifestyle—to tackle while on the job or getting to the job.

  • For chair-bound people, stand up while talking on the phone. Buy a music stand and read while standing. FYI: you burn more calories standing than sitting. 
  • Walk down the hall at least once an hour. 
  • Instead of emailing your colleague who sits around the corner, get up and talk to him. 
  • Do you live close to work? Walk or bike to your job at least a couple of days a week. 
  • Are you a Metro rider? Get off one Metro stop early and walk the rest of the way to work. 
  • Replace your work chair with a stability ball. When you sit on a well-inflated stability ball, your posture improves and your abdominal muscles tighten (and using muscles means burning energy). 
  • Store a resistance tube in your desk drawer and perform bicep curls during lengthy phone calls. 
  • Encourage walking meetings whenever possible. 
  • If your workplace is large, briskly walk from one destination to the next. 
  • Always take the stairs instead of the elevator. 
     In the last several years, Meritus Health has challenged its employees to move more on the job. The 10,000 Steps program encouraged employees to increase their daily steps by wearing a pedometer, and another program Caught You Moving asked employees to take photos of their co-workers getting physical at work. “Employees shouldn’t worry about what the boss might say about a new fidgety you,” shares Cindy Earle. “Any type of exercise enhances the immune system and boosts energy.” After all, what boss doesn’t want a healthy and alert employee?

By: Anne Gill

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