Sedentary behavior is defined as time spent sitting or lying down (and an energy expenditure of less than 1.5 METs). Sedentary activities are on top of the Physical Activity Pyramid – similar to the fats and oil category placement. Research has identified that sedentary behavior is associated
with greater risk for at least 35 chronic disease and health conditions. And even those who exercise regularly cannot escape the effects of sedentary behavior (if engaging in such behavior while not exercising). Guidelines for how long people should sit and stand are being published and one such prescription states that for every half hour working in a office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes and move around or stretch for 2 minutes. I believe that this can be applied to any environment or situation where sitting for long periods of time occurs. I look forward to a paradigm shift in the academic setting, business environment and other communities that will embrace, accommodate and advocate physical activity over sedentary activity.
However, while the guidelines for how long people should sit (stated above) are ideal, it is not practical in an everyday office job. In the following, I will recommend some practical ways to avoid complete sedentary behavior.
- Go to the gym during your lunch break. I know that sounds horrible and are wondering why would you go to the gym instead of relaxing.
Well the truth is that your lunch break might be the only time you have to go workout. During this time, it is not necessary to work up a huge sweat or extremely sore muscles. Simply walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes is good enough to get your blood flowing and your body moving.
2. Stand up and stretch. This one is simple and would require zero effort to do. Every hour or so, stand up and stretch. Whenever you stand up, add a little stretch. See, very simple. A simple stretching routine is to stand up, interlock your your finger, pull your hands and arms up until your body in taut, and continue pulling up until you are on your toes. This routine would take at most 5-10 seconds. If you suffer from your feet falling on you, you can do the following stretch to help prevent and alleviate the problem. With your feet flush against the ground, slowly raise your feet while keeping you heel to the ground, Stretch as far as you can and when you are there, hold that position for 2-3 seconds and begin slowly lowering your feet back to the ground. Do this 3-4 time every hour and it will keep your feet from falling asleep.
3. Squats. Like the stretch, you do not have to leave your desk to do this. Simply, whenever you stand up, try to do so without your hands and just use the muscles in your legs. When you sit back down, do not just fall into your chair. Just do a squat and when your butt touched the chair, gently sit down. That said, there is no real need to do the arm raising part of a squat as that will garner you some weird, inquisitive looks from your coworkers.
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