We tell ourselves time and time again that we've got to stop sitting so much. It's bad for our health for a whole slew of reasons, but there's just no way we can spend eight hours a day on the solitary TreadDesk in the office. (And we're lucky even to have one!)
So what can you do to fight obesity, diabetes, heart disease and the other risks of sitting too much? At the most simple level, stand more. A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic are set to study 30 employees of Caldrea, an eco-friendly cleaning supply company in Minneapolis, whose desks have been replaced with workstations that make it possible to sit or stand while working, according to the Star Tribune.
"Sitting is sort of the new smoking," Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., told the Star Tribune.
The participants will stand at their desks for half of the work day, with a monitor attached to their underwear to keep them honest, according to a local CBS affiliate. Researchers expect that the standing workers will burn more calories, reduce medical bills and have more energy than their colleagues who continue to sit full-time.
Dr. Levine led a similar study in 2007 at a financial staffing firm in Minneapolis called Salo, according to the New York Times. In that instance, the 18 employees who increased their activity during the workday lost 150 pounds collectively.
CBS reports that the results of the study won't be published until May. In the meantime, click through the slideshow below for a few more ways to stay healthy and active at your desk.
The set-up of your workstation can cause everything from headaches to tendinitis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration website. Make sure your keyboard and mouse are at a height and distance from your body that allows you to keep your wrists straight and your elbows tight by your side, according to the OSHA. You want to be able to keep your neck straight as well, so make sure your screen is around eye-level. Chiropractor Jason Queiros told Forbes you should adjust your office chair so you're in what he called a "90-90-90 position -- feet flat on the floor and your knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles."
Opting to climb an extra three to five sets of stairs a day instead of taking the elevator can burn enough calories in a year to negate the average adult's yearly one- to two-pound weight gain, according to Prevention.com.
Skip that poorly positioned office chair in favor of a fitness ball, just make sure the ball is tall enough to keep your posture in line with the tips above. Sitting on the unstable surface will activate your core muscles all day long, according to Mayo Clinic.
While it might not seem like much, any interruption in sedentary time is a good move, according to a 2008 Australian study. Experts recommend capitalizing on any chance to move, even if it's only for a few moments at a time. Don't feel comfortable fidgeting in front of your co-workers? Take the opportunity to walk to a co-worker's office and talk face to face instead of shooting off that email.
It's not always practical to take a meeting on the go, but chances are your colleagues are just as aware of the dangers of sitting too much as you are. Many sources recommend walking during your next meeting, whether that means doing laps around the office or heading outside, if the weather permits. (Bonus: You'll soak up some vitamin D while you're out there.) Bosses will benefit, too: The extra activity will boost energy and alertness, and could even spark creativity, according to TLC.
You don't have to run three miles at your lunch break to combat the effects of sitting too much; sedentary time is best mitigated by lots of frequent movement, even if it's only done for brief periods of time. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stretch at your desk. WebMD recommends lifting both arms above your head or rolling your head from shoulder to shoulder. There are also a number of easy yoga poses you can do at your desk that will both release tension in your neck and back, as well as ease some of the day's stress. But even strengthening exercises can be condensed into 60-second bursts. Forbes outlines some great moves, including triceps dips, leg lifts and spinal twists, here.
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