Working in an Office, Part 2 – The Sitting Trap

– Toni Sicola, executive editor and wellness expert

Working in an office can sometimes pose a challenge to the healthy lifestyle goals we strive to achieve. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring alternatives to the day-to-day office life of frozen lunches and seated inertia. If you missed last week’s edition, A Microwave Dilemma, check it out.

Week 2, The Sitting Trap

A typical day in the life of a daily grinder: The alarm goes off at 6:40am. she presses snooze, and after stretching and yawning for one last minute, she drags herself out of bed at 7. She brushes her teeth, washes her face, and then sits down to put on her make up. Then she sits down to eat breakfast before packing up the car and sitting in the driver’s seat for the commute to work. Arriving at the office, she sits down at her desk and turns on her monitor to start her day. At lunch time, she gets back in the driver’s seat, and drives to lunch where she sits at a cafe to eat. At the end of the work day, she commutes home and then sits on the couch, exhausted.

How does this happen? Why is she exhausted?

Sitting is exhausting.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. The human body was designed to move, to work with gravity, to bear weight, to stretch, tighten, and relax again. When we sit all day, we are not only not helping ourselves, we’re harming ourselves

There are some uncontrollable factors in this sitting situation. Of course, we have to sit while we drive. We (should) sit while we eat, and then there’s the desk set up. But what if things were different?

my dream desk

Not every organization can manage a massive overhaul of workstations to accommodate seated and standing options. Not every company can afford a pricy treadmill desk — which seems like it would be AWESOME! — but every able-bodied PERSON can STAND UP!

That’s it, just stand up.

We don’t have to wait for all the lights to be green before we go, but we CAN start small and start now.

There are always those days (and around here, it seems that they’re adding up to weeks and months) when you feel like you can hardly come up for air, much less take a lunch break or a 10 minute walk to move your muscles. But there’s time to stand up. If your phone rings, stand up to answer it. Get a headset, and pace a bit while you’re taking the call, or even do a few squats or lunges. If you are in a business where actual hard-copy paper is still part of the work life, read a paper document standing up.

It’s a tall order, but some folks like Dr. Mercola, best selling author and founder of Peak Fitness, even recommend standing up every 10 minutes and doing a quick round of movements to get the blood circulating. A tall order, but it actually sounds like an interesting challenge. Maybe we should try it together?

Inertia will only keep you in your seat for as long as you let it. If you commit yourself to standing up even once an hour to start, you’ll be surprised at the energy you have left as you slide into the driver’s seat at the end of the day.

Try it.

Next week, Monday through Friday, commit to setting a timer on your phone to go off every 10 minutes. Stand up, stretch your arms to the ceiling, twist your torso, and then sit back down to work. I’d really like to hear how you feel on Friday.


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