Incorporating movement in your workday

Media headlines, in recent years, have depicted this notion that sitting is akin to smoking and can be considered a disease. Many of us spend our 40-hour work week lumped in an office chair, tucked away behind our keyboard and monitor. However, rather than remaining seated in a static, unchanging posture, our bodies were designed to move. Naturally, as sitting results in reduced muscle activation and caloric expenditure, decreased blood flow, and negatively affected digestive and metabolic systems, our first inkling is to stand up. But, standing all day can also have negative affects including: lower back, hip, knee, and/or foot discomfort, blood flow and circulation issues, as well as potential lower limb swelling.

What is an office worker to do?

Rather than one posture or the other, research suggests alternating between sitting and standing as too much of either can create strain on the body. So, look around your office and consider what you can do to stand and move more. Try some of the following:

  • Alternate tasks that require alternating between sitting and standing (e.g. filing vs. typing work)
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator
  • Take your breaks away from your desk (e.g. go for a walk at lunch)
  • Drink plenty of water (i.e. need to refill, need to use restroom)
  • Stand during phone calls. Or, walk/pace if you have a headset or speakerphone option.
  • Print to a communal printer, rather than an in-office one
  • Meet with colleagues in their office rather than call or email
  • Implement standing and/or walking meetings when possible
  • Try out some stretches at your desk for your neck, wrists, shoulders, legs get those muscles moving!
  • Use the rocking (i.e. seat pan tilt) function on your chair (ideally, when on the phone or reading documents, as opposed to when typing)

Ideally, aim to stand every 20-30 minutes to minimize the negative effects of prolonged static postures. So stretch, move, and be healthy!

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