Avoid the “Sitting Syndrome”: Great Ways to Stay Fit at Work or School

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if you clear up time in your day to workout, those hours spent sedentary have already planted a ticking time bomb inside of you. Research shows that sitting still for long periods of time can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The body’s immune system is also less likely to fight common diseases when it is inactive for long periods of time, therefore making it easier to get sick.

It is not only your physical health that is jeopardized, either. On top of the demands from work or school, sitting down for long periods can also cause a great deal of mental distress and anxiety.

If that’s not bad enough, a study published in 2010 by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who sat  down for six or more hours per day were almost 40 percent more likely to die over a the next 13 years than those who sat  for less than three hours. Men who sat still for the same amount of time were 18 percent more likely to die. The death risk for men and women who didn’t find time to work out was even higher.

Now how can you find time to workout when you are faced with 40-hour work weeks, deadlines, taking care of your family, and school work? The answer to this may be easier and more practical than you can imagine.

There are many ways to fight what we call the “sitting syndrome” that can easily be done at your office or school and don’t require a gym membership. Some of these things may be as simple as stretching at your desk or taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Although these may seem like small details that are by no means as effective as running or lifting weights, they could save your life, literally. 

Avoid the elevator, take the stairs.

Why do you think so many people use the “stair master” at gyms? This is one of the easiest changes you can make and you can start right now. It is too easy to fall into the trap of using the elevator as easy transportation to get from floor to floor, especially if you work in a building that has many floors. According to LiveStrong.com, a 150 pound person burns 9 calories per minute while walking up stairs. Climbing up stairs is a great workout for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Walk to your co-workers, don’t call or e-mail them.

We can all use a break from being sedentary. Most people should want to get up and walk around if their job requires long hours of sitting down. Next time you need to get ahold of someone in your office or building, walk to them. It is important to capitalize on any opportunity to get up and move around, as it will make a big difference to your overall health.

In addition, walk around when talking or meeting with someone rather than sitting face to face at a desk. Not only will this ease any tension in the conversation, but it is good for you.

Stretch at your desk.

There are a wide variety of stretches that can be done while you are sitting down at your desk. Besides keeping your body in an active, physical state, stretching at your desk can ease back pain and boost energy levels.

Bring exercise equipment to work.

If you have your own office, or the space to do so, bringing small exercise equipment can be a great way to spend any down time on the job. Examples of things to bring are stress-relief squeeze balls, hand grippers, small weighted dumbbells, resistance bands, and ankle weights. All of these things require little to no space to do and will not attract unwanted attention from co-workers.

Give some of these simple habits a try to avoid the risks that come with sitting still. In any case scenario, a little movement is better than no movement!