About eight out of 10 of us have jobs that may call us to think on our feet—but not actually ever get up from our chairs.
In other words, we’re likely sitting down for about eight hours a day.
If you’re thinking that can’t be good for our bodies, you’d be right. A study published in England last year confirmed that if you hold a desk job or other low-physical-activity job, you typically gain about two centimeters around your waist every year. And for every extra hour you sit after five hours, heart disease risk increases by .2 percent.
“The big issue with a sedentary job is that you’re setting yourself up for a low-activity life. Combined with unhealthy food decisions, over time you end up with weight creep and its related health issues,” said Dr. Thad Carson, an internal medicine physician with Augusta University Health.
Time to get moving
“If you’re someone who likes to get home and take a walk with your family or your dog every night for 30 minutes, that’s terrific,” said Carson. “However, most of us don’t have that time or spend nights or weekends doing other activities.”
It makes sense to try to find the time at work to stay active, especially since it’s a lot healthier not to sit for long hours. According to Carson, a good rule of thumb is to stand up and move at least once an hour. “The less you sit the better, but even just standing and stretching helps with blood flow,” he said.
Your goal should be to get in as many steps as possible, aiming for about 20 to 30 minutes of combined activity a day. So take the stairs when you can, or park on the far end of the parking lot so you can walk in. And, if there’s a trolley or bus that takes you from the parking lot, wave it on. During lunch, make regular plans to walk, even gathering a group of work friends to join in.
“Getting your heart rate up for about 20 to 30 minutes a day is what you need to keep your metabolism higher and avoid steady weight gain,“ said Carson.
Say no to snacks—and other office treats
So we’re not saying you have to always refuse the office birthday cake. Just don’t indulge in office treats with the mindset that “what’s eaten in the office stays at the office.” If your common room is like most, it probably regularly offers donuts, muffins, pizza and a feast of other calorie-laden foods.