How to Spend Less Time Sitting at Work
With more than 3 billion working adults in the world, you’d better believe there are a lot of people spending most of their time sitting down; and we are only just beginning to understand how detrimental that is to our health. More and more businesses and professional individuals are making changes to their sedentary work habits – some even going as far as using getting rid of their normal desks, and using apps to remind them to be physically active.
TechQuarters, who are among the top London IT support companies, spoke about the importance of exercise and activity throughout the work day. “Health statistics on what sitting does to your blood pressure and blood sugar levels can be quite scary,” said one employee from TechQuarters. “It’s enough to make you jump out of your seat, literally.”
The Dangers of Sitting (and the Benefits of Moving)
An meta-analysis of 13 different studies garnered a particularly frightening insight: sitting down for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity is comparably lethal to obesity and smoking – that is to say, extended sitting posed similar ill-health effects to smoking cigarettes (exact amounts are not specified).
This same meta-analysis indicated that between 60 and 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day would counteract the negative effects of extended sitting.
One frequent recommendation for incorporating exercise into your work day is to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes – if you did just 2 minutes of moderate exercise for every 30 minutes of sitting, you’d be doing half-an-hour of exercise every day during work.
Another recommendation is to use a standing desk instead of a regular desk. These desks are tall enough for you to safely use your computer while standing up – this means you can do a whole day’s work without ever sitting down.
Set Reminders to Get Up & Move
Some people don’t simply rely on their recollection to remember to take breaks. There are lots of useful apps – for both mobile phones and computers – that are designed to break up one’s day into focus sessions and breaks. For instance, in Windows 11, the Focus Sessions function allows you to set periods of focus – such as 30 minutes, or an hour – which are punctuated by breaks – such as a 5-minute break – and will send you notifications when you have a break coming up. This makes it easy to remember to stand up and be active regularly throughout the day.
Options for Standing Desks
One of the most popular (and in some ways easiest) ways of combatting the ill-health effects of extended sitting is to use a standing desk, because it forces you to be active by standing all day. Nowadays the market is full of standing desks and converters to allow people to work without sitting:
- Manual / Electric Sit-Stand Desk – the benefit of a sit-stand desk is that you do still have the option of sitting down while working, as you can adjust the height of the desk.
- High Table – If you’re happy to commit to always standing while at work, a slightly more cost-effective solution may be to purchase a high table – such as one that would normally be placed in a kitchen as a breakfast bar.
- Standing Desk Converter – if you share desks at work (or at home), or perhaps simply work at your dining table, then an easy way to avoid sitting is to purchase a converter. These are simply purpose-built platforms (some of which can be folded away) that you can place your laptop or computer monitor on. Many of them have a platform for putting your display on, and a slightly lower platform for your keyboard/mouse – thus supporting correct neck and arm angles.
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