By now, we’ve probably all seen the headlines stating that “sitting is the new smoking.” Whether it’s due to your desk job or too many hours on the couch binge-watching television shows (or even worse, both), a sedentary lifestyle has become one of the major risk factors for heart disease. It can’t be negated by other healthy habits like eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.
The only answer to offsetting the risks of hours spent sitting at a desk is to find ways to get your body moving at least once every hour.
It’s actually really simple but surprisingly difficult for a lot of desk-workers to implement. Workdays get busy with a constant stream of emails, phone calls and meetings, so it can be easy to forget to get up and move around. For many people, it requires a commitment to a change in habits and some planning. That could mean changing up your work schedule, investing in some equipment or even speaking to your employer about ways to create a more heart-healthy work environment.
Here are our top 10 tips to help you get started:
- If you struggle with remembering to get up and move once an hour, set an alarm or timer. When the alert sounds, spend five minutes doing whatever you feel like: walking, stretching, cardio or resistance training. Whatever you do needs to get your blood flowing and your body moving.
- Don’t turn the timer off and simply continue working, telling yourself that you’ll do it later. You probably won’t. Make a point to stop whatever you’re doing and get up, even if all you do is stand and do some stretches or a handful of jumping jacks.
- Drink more water. You’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom more often, while also improving your hydration. That’s a win-win!
- Take the longest route to the bathroom farthest away from your office to get a little extra movement into your hourly break.
- Use wireless headphones for phone calls, so you can get some movement in while you’re on the phone. You can walk around the office. You could also do some yoga stretches or some simple moves like leg lifts or squats. Just keep it low-intensity to avoid any huffing and puffing.
- Schedule walking meetings. It’s an easy way for everyone to get some steps in while also getting work done.
- Take the stairs whenever possible during your workday.
- Invest in a standing desk. Standing for parts of your workday is an easy way to make a dent in those hours spent sitting. However, you shouldn’t stand all day either, as that comes with its own health impacts. Aim for at least one hour of standing for every hour spent sitting, and work your way up to 3:1.
- Exercise at your desk. If you have a standing desk, you can walk in place or side to side. If you are stuck with sitting, you can do leg exercises or stretches while you work. You can also try sitting on an exercise ball, or give stationary pedaling a try. Other more high-tech options to really get your cardio in while you work include bicycle and treadmill desks.
- Make sure the rest of your day is spent being active. Take every opportunity to move throughout your day. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Take a walk, or schedule a sweat session at lunch. At home, take a post-dinner walk. Use the commercial breaks when you’re watching TV to get up and move around.
Adding small bursts of activity throughout your entire day is one of the best things you can do for your heart health. Set that timer, and start today!
The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.