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How to stay active when you have a desk job

How much time do you spend in a chair or on a couch?

Did you realize that sitting for 6-8 hours per day—or watching 3-4 hours of television—has been shown to increase the risk of chronic illness and early death? It’s stunning research, especially considering that the average American sits as much as 12 hours per day!

Sitting too much is simply hard on the body. Excessive sedentary behavior—common and seemingly “unavoidable” if you have a desk job—can increase the risk for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and other types of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

At North Park Medical, it’s our mission to help people move better and feel better—and minimizing chair time is a huge part of this. Talk to our physical therapist staff if you’d like to set up an appointment and get going on a treatment plan that will help you start feeling (and standing) better than ever.

In the meantime, check out these tips for increasing your physical activity during your workday.

Staying More Active at Work—A 5-Step Cheat Sheet to Get out of That Seat

1. Have Your Meetings in Motion

Instead of holding your meeting or phone calls while sitting in a boardroom, see if it’s possible to take that appointment on the move and talk while you walk. Bonus: walking has been shown to boost creativity and problem solving.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking at least one third to one half your body weight in fluid ounces per day can keep your body properly hydrated. It’ll also force you to get out of your chair more, because you’ll find yourself needing to relieve yourself more often!

Keep a stainless steel or glass water bottle handle, drink regularly, and thank your body for the frequent signals that are sending you to the bathroom.

3. Get an Adjustable Sit to Stand Set-Up

Many companies now offer sit to stand desks because they’ve seen the research: employees who get to stand more may experience increased job satisfaction, alertness, and productivity—while also reducing their risk for the physical effects of “sitting disease.”

Even if you can’t get an adjustable desk for your office, it may be possible to make your own DIY version with some sturdy boxes and other material. Get creative…and don’t hesitate to ask your supervisor or office manager about investing in adjustable desks or attachments.

4. Take the Stairs

Physical activity may not be able to offset all the negative effects of sitting too much, but it may help some. Meeting the American Heart Association’s minimum recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is important, but those “non-exercise” activities add up, too.

So: park farther away from the office, take the stairs, and if necessary, talk to a physical therapist about custom orthotics and other strategies to make activity more comfortable.

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Wear a pedometer to track your steps and motivate you to get up and move around the office more often. Also, consider setting a timer to go off once per hour to alert you when it’s time to take a break from sitting and get out of your chair.

The bottom line: sitting for too long just isn’t good for your body or your lifespan. Our physical therapy staff can help you manage an injury or condition that has limited your standing tolerance, and get you on your feet with greater confidence. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

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