Most people who work in an office setting are usually sitting all day in front of a computer for hours on end, which is an unfortunate, but required draw back to many jobs in today’s business landscape.
Sitting all day can be accompanied by some significant health consequences, including back pain, neck or shoulder pain and headaches.
However, here are 10 tips to show you how to survive sitting all day that can improve your overall health and wellness.
10 Ways to Survive Sitting All Day
- How is Your Posture?
Having proper posture when sitting all day doesn’t seem like a big deal until you sit for 40 hours a week, then it can become a very big deal with very real consequences. Not having your feet firmly on the ground, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle can lead to lower back and leg pain.
Couple that with leaning forward to compensate for poor seat height, and now you may be experiencing total back pain. These are easy adjustments that anyone can make. Not sure what a proper posture looks like, here is a link explaining it.
- Put Down the Crap
One of the hardest parts about sitting all day at your desk is the desire to snack. Offices by-and-large are riddled with unhealthy, and unfortunately, delicious snacks. If you can make a conscious effort to limit your snacking dramatically you will not only feel better at the end of the day, but you may very well have more energy.
Remember, the nutrients you receive from a healthy snack will last you much longer than the short term boost you would get from say a chocolate bar.
| Bonus Tip: Looking for some healthy snacks to keep within reach of your desk? Here are a few: seeds, raw nuts, dried fruit, low-sodium jerky, roasted seaweed (personal favorite), and if you’re really craving something sweet a square of dark chocolate is a great choice. |
- Make Your Trips Count
Do you make multiple trips to the copier per day? How about to get some water, visit a co-worker, or to get a healthy (yes, healthy) snack? Well, make those trips count. Take the long way to the copier, take a lap around the office with your water or snack, or take a second to stretch before you head to see your friend.
All of these options will help your body stay engaged throughout the day. Any excuse to get out of your chair after completing your work is a good one, just make sure they count.
- Don’t Be Shy
Listen, if you have worked in the same office for a long time, chances are some of your co-workers probably already know you are fitness oriented, and if you’re new there’s no better chance to make that known than now. Just like at home, don’t be afraid to do some quick, simple exercises in your office throughout the day.
Set a timer on your phone or computer for once an hour, when your timer goes off stand up and do a quick set of body-weight squats or lunges. You’d be amazed how much better you’ll feel after a week of these exercises six to eight times a day.
| Bonus Tip: Sitting all day and staring at a computer can wreak havoc on your neck and shoulders. Make sure after every time you sit down you stretch this area out. Here are four stretches you can do right at your desk to relieve neck and shoulder tension.
- Pack A Lunch
Sitting all day at your desk can be boring, and it can make you crave a new backdrop with a lively atmosphere, like a restaurant. Going out to eat for lunch, however, can make the rest of your day miserable. Food from restaurants are often loaded with calories, saturated fats, and sodium that can make you feel bloated and heavy. This can affect your energy level for the rest of the day, throwing off the routine you’re trying to set.
Instead, prep your meals in advance and pack your lunch. Not only will this help you feel better when you return to your desk, but it will also help your bank account at the end of the month.
- Take the Stairs
While “working” to get to work doesn’t sound very fun, taking the stairs instead of the elevator is the perfect way to get your body’s engine running for the day. A two-minute stair climb (for a 175-pound person) will burn around 21 calories.
This doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiplied by five or six and you’ve burned over a hundred calories where you would have burned next to none standing still on an elevator. Don’t believe it? Here’s the source.
| Bonus Tip: Why just limit yourself to walking the stairs? There are plenty of quick and easy ways you can beef up those walks. For example, instead of going up one stair at a time, try skipping one and making it a lunge, or walk up the flight one step at a time but add a squat to each stair. Now you’ve taken a simple walk and turned it into a workout. |
- Bring Your Equipment
No one is talking about lugging a squat rack up the stairs and into your office (though that would probably be a great workout in and of itself), but there is no reason you can’t pack some light weight dumbbells or resistance bands to keep under your desk. Have some down time? Grab your dumbbells or bands and get some arm workouts in. Anytime is a good time to get a pump.
- Ditch the Chair
Not all offices have the ability to offer the option of standing while you work (take advantage if they do), but that doesn’t mean you have to sit in a clunky, uncomfortable chair all day long. Exercise balls are a great alternative to sitting in a traditional chair.
Exercise or “stability balls” as they are known are known to help people relieve back pain and tone their core muscles. Here is what the AFPA (American Fitness Professionals & Associates) have to say about them.
| Bonus Tip: Flex! No, seriously, flex as much as you can. The benefits of flexing are widely known. Flexing for approximately 30 seconds and then releasing can be a great workout for muscle groups, especially the core. Fair warning, however, if you start striking Mr. Olympia poses throughout the office, people will probably point and stare. |
- Strength in Numbers
Achieving any fitness goal is hard, it’s even harder alone. This is why you need to recruit people to go all-in with you. Find your friends in the office and tell them what you are doing, and share your goals. More than likely, they will have similar goals (who doesn’t want to be more fit?), and be more than happy to have a partner to lean on. Once you get a few of your co-workers to sign on, take it to your boss. Company wide fitness challenges are a great way to stay motivated when you’re away from the comforts of your own home.
- Walk and Talk
If you have ever watched the television show West Wing then you know exactly what I am talking about. Schedule meetings where instead of sitting down around a table, you instead walk around the office, or better yet, around the block. Not only will this break up the monotony of the day, but it will go a long way towards keeping you active and out of your chair. While it may be hard to get people to buy in at first, after their first “walk-and-talk” they will be hooked.
| Bonus Tip: Get the day started right with a healthy breakfast. Coffee always sounds amazing, but instead of the grande, triple shot, iced, white mocha, try a nutritious breakfast that will instead of giving you a quick sugar rush, give you long lasting energy to get your day started right. |
Starting new health habits can difficult, but they’re even more difficult when you are starting from scratch. Hopefully these 10 tips can put you on the right path towards making your office and extension of your fitness goals. Good luck, and don’t forget to stand up!
Rob Miller is the founder of author of Supplement Critique, a site that provides unbiased reviews of health products and supplements. He started the site because he was tired of reading all the fake review sites online that promoted products, when they hadn’t even tried them.
Ken Weiss is a health blogger who is passionate about natural and holistic cures for men’s health issues. He is the founder of menshealthcures.com