Is Your Job Bad for You?

It’s 6:30 a.m. and the alarm goes off.  You hit the snooze button (twice), and at 6:45 a.m., you finally roll out of bed.  You shower, brush your teeth, get dressed for the day and run out the door.  On the way to work, you grab a large latte, along with a bagel because you forgot to go to the store last night to get breakfast.  Traffic was terrible, and you finally arrive at the office around 8:15 a.m.  You proceed to check your voicemail, email, and your day begins. 

Before you know, it’s noon and you haven’t so much as gotten up to use the restroom.  Plus, it’s lunchtime and you’re starving.   You grab a sandwich from the shop down the street and a large diet soda to get you through the afternoon.  Finally, 5:00 p.m. rolls around and it’s time to go home.  By the time you set foot in the front door you’re exhausted.  You plant yourself in front of the T.V. to catch up on the latest reality show, pop a frozen pizza in the oven and pour a big glass of red wine.  Although you had every intention of going to the gym tonight, you’re too tired; you promise yourself you will wake up an extra hour early to go first thing in the morning. 

Sound familiar?  Like the majority of Americans that hold a full-time desk job, it’s easy to fall into an unhealthy rut.  We “forget” to eat healthy because, most of the time, it’s not convenient.  We “forget” to exercise because after a long day, we’re just too tired.  Although most individuals would agree that they don’t make the healthiest choices day after day, it’s alarming to learn that our choices can be downright dangerous.  In fact, studies show that having a sedentary job can actually be bad for your health. 

In a 2012 Australian study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,  of more than 200,000 people, it was found that adults who sat 11 hours or more per day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next three years, compared to individuals who sat for fewer than four hours a day.  Although the study may seem a bit extreme, it’s still alarming.  It’s estimated that one in three workers are considered obese and physical inactivity is linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer, to name a few.

For many working individuals, sitting for the majority of the day is unavoidable; however, there are many small steps you can take to get up and get moving.

Exercise Daily 

For adults that means getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week (approximately 20 minutes a day), in addition to two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities.  Maybe that involves waking up 30 minutes early for a morning run or attending a Boot Camp class after work.  If time is the issue, mix it up and exercise in 10-minute increments throughout the day.  You’ll have more energy throughout the day and be more productive around the office.   No excuses!

Take the Stairs 

Although an elevator may seem more convenient, why not burn an extra few calories on the way up to the office? 

Put Down the Phone

Instead of calling a coworker or sending an email, get up and walk. 

Get Up and Stretch 

Take frequent breaks throughout the day to walk around and even stretch.  Set an hourly reminder on your computer to remind you to get up and move around.  Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, spinal twist, chest stretches, and forearm stretches can all help alleviate aches, pains, and stiffness associated with sitting all day. 

Take a Walk 

Grab a few coworkers and take 20 minutes during your lunch break to go for a walk.  Find a nearby park or even walk around the perimeter of your building a few times. 

Eat Frequently 

Try to eat frequent small meals throughout the day.  Forgetting to eat can leave you feeling famished by lunch, resulting in a tendency to overeat.  Have fruit, yogurt, almonds, or a protein bar on hand for a snack, instead of making a trip to the office vending machine. 

Replace a Chair with a Stability Ball 

A stability ball is a great tool used to improve the strength of the spine and reduce the risk of back pain.  Stability balls can be purchased for as little as $10 and almost immediately you will notice a difference in your posture and core.  Swap out your desk chair for the ball for 30 minutes a day and increase your time weekly for the most effectiveness.