I’m a somewhat healthy 40 something. I’ve had surgery on both shoulders, and I have compartment syndrome in one leg and bursitis in my hip (that makes me sound so old!). I teach karate to kids (doesn’t take much physical effort – just a ton of patience!), but I also spend about 6 hours a day in front of a computer. Even with all that, I still considered myself mostly healthy.
Until I heard about Death by Desk. Did you know that sitting at your desk for hours a day can be as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day?
That statement shocked me into action like no other statement has. Here’re are five simple and easy tips to help you avoid a wide variety of health problems caused by sitting at your desk every day after day, after day…
Ditch Your Desk Chair
The first thing I did was get rid of my desk chair. I had recently seen an infomercial for a standing desk, but the price tag for an Uplift desk was around $500. I wasn’t ready to pay that much, so I opted for adding a platform to my existing desk (around $30 for the materials). I also didn’t want to add a lot of stress to my already damaged leg, so I also added a foam mat for less than $20 from a local store. I also change into really good sneakers when I get to the office, so I’m not standing in poorly structured shoes all day.
It’s not a perfect system, and I’ll eventually get an adjustable one, but it’s working great right now.
Here’s my actual standing desk:
2. Get a Timer
One of the biggest mistakes I made was sitting at the computer for hours at a time. I often got sucked into what I was doing and never realized how many hours had passed. It’s great to be in the zone, but it wasn’t great for my body.
The Pomodoro technique is a great way to ensure that you take sufficient breaks for your eyes during the day. You simply get a timer and set it for 25 minutes. Then you take a break for at least 5 minutes, away from any screen. This is both great for productivity and overcoming eye strain.
3. Add a Healthy Drink
Raise your hand if your day is fueled by caffeine. Raise both if you couldn’t imagine a day without several grande cups of caffeine-filled goodness. I’m never going to suggest living without caffeine (I couldn’t survive) but I am going to suggest adding a few more drinks into your daily life.
Nearly half of American’s are not getting enough water. That’s an easy fix, so start bringing a huge class to work. Start drinking water in between your cups of joe. The next is try something new: a healthy tonic. You can try something simple like honey and apple cider vinegar (ACV), or try an oxymel called Fire Cider (has honey, ACV, plus lots of other healthy stuff). It’s an easy addition with great benefits. Just remember that you can’t improve your healthy drinking only coffee or tea all day – just part of the day!
4. Start Measuring Your Steps
10,000 steps a day is the recommended daily average. I averaged about 3000 – certainly in the sedentary zone! When I ditched my desk chair, I started counting steps. It’s easy as there are apps like Pacer or pedometers like FitBit that you wear on your wrist. I personally combine my Pomodoro breaks with walking for at least 10 minutes. However, it doesn’t matter how you incorporate walking as long as you just get moving.
Walk the dog, go hiking, stroll around the grocery store – it doesn’t matter! It all counts towards your overall daily step count. As long as the words “sedentary” can’t be used to explain your overall health.
5. Change the Way You Sit
I’d be lying if I said I stand all day, every day. I don’t. Sometimes my leg or hip gets sore, or I just get tired. But I don’t sit back in an office chair either. I bought a ball chair, which burns 4.1 times more calories than sitting in my old office chair. You can also buy a desk pedal exerciser, which is just bike pedals you can spin while sitting.
At the very least, try learning how to sit correctly at the computer.
Moving Towards a Healthier Workplace
I’ve already lost 15lbs and feel 100% better since I ditched my desk chair. This is what works for me, and you’ll need to find a plan that works for you. The idea is to take Death by Desk seriously. Make a commitment to moving, not sitting all day long.
Believe it or not, you’ll be happier and more productive when you find a balance between your health and your job.