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Are you sitting too much at your desk job? If so, you could be at risk for sitting disease. Should you Check into a standing desk converter? Are there other ways to counteract the dangers of inactivity?
As I finish my day sitting at the computer again, I thought this would be a good post to revisit.
Essentially, I have put on some weight since going back to work and school. I haven't changed my diet much so I started to wonder why the sudden increase of fat around my middle?
Well, possibly it's my age? Nah! I know plenty of women in their 50's who are still lean and slim.
Then it hit me, I realized I've been spending too much time in a seated position at my desk job lately.
My last job was as a chiropractic assistant and health coach. I was on my feet walking around that office for four hours at a time. The rest of the day was at home and I was walking the dog, cleaning, or shopping-basically, I was moving pretty much all day.
I Sit too Much Sometimes
As you could probably have guessed by now, I sit a lot at my current job.
Have you ever had to work a sitting job and then attend a grad school course in the evening? These classes are legit four hours long!
Needless to say, I am kind of grumpy on days when I have these long classes.
My family laughs because I come home every Tuesday night a different person (and that lady isn't very pleasant).
Most of the professors have us sitting way too long before calling a break. I wondered why I felt like this and wanted to learn how sitting disease affects us.
After I've been sitting for just about just twenty minutes, my lower back starts to ache, then between my shoulder blades begins to burn.
I start fidgeting like a little kid. Under the desk or table, I am doing ankle pumps as I can also feel the circulation being slowed to my lower extremities. And I pay for this torture?
Should Schools Provide a Standing Desk Converter for Each Student?
As a teacher myself, I notice how much our young students are sitting. Let me just say 90 minute blocks of instruction are way too long. We try our best to keep things moving and changing so everyone is engaged.
In my classes, I allow a break for water or bathroom about half way through because I am very sensitive to the need to move.
Even short stints of movement, often enough, could help prevent some of the following health risks.
Standing and moving can help active kids pay attention better.
I can think of many students who behave better immediately after I give them a clip board and ask them to stand off to the side and take notes or work problems standing.
I do this when I notice vocal outbursts or misconduct that is disruptive. First I ask them to go take a walk to the water fountain and then I hand them a clipboard. They are welcome to sit back down whenever they wish.
One study which you should read about in this article, discussed how too much sitting can KILL you. Wow, that's serious right?
We should be moving around at least every half hour and for several minutes. I would venture to recommend even more often, say every 20 minutes.
Humans, in my opinion, were made to be on the move.
Tips For Drivers and Those Who Often Take Long Trips
Maybe you don't have a desk job, but sit for long periods because you are a driver, or someone who drives long distances. Perhaps you take long flights often. Here are just a couple ideas that may help you:
- If you can stop, then stop and walk more often.
- Do ankle pumps and ankle circles while seated.
- Lift each leg up off the floor when you are stopped and it is safe to do so.
- Squeeze those glute muscles and tighten/contract your abs now and then. Activating them can help some blood flow.
- Pretend you are squeezing a pillow between your knees to get to the inner thighs.
- Straighten your legs if you can do so safely.
- Lift your arms one at a time; again only as is safe to do so when driving.
- Drink enough water.
When we sit too long, it affects us:
Postural muscles tighten and cause aches and pains
Sedentary lifestyles increase risk for diabetes and obesity
Sitting too much can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease
If you're like me, sitting too long makes you grumpy
Are you sitting too much at your desk job?
How to Prevent Sitting Disease:
Now let's wrap this up with some other ways we can work to prevent sitting disease.
For one thing, we can turn off technology and get outside. I too fall into the temptation of the internet and television sometimes. For example, binge watching Netflix on a rainy day.
Movement is so important! Regular exercise not only helps to counteract the physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it releases endorphins to counteract the grumpies.
At a job I had years ago, a coworker was getting pretty bad upper back pain due to her desk job and too much sitting. She decided to ask for a standing desk.
Her employer's policy ended up being a royal pain in the neck. (pun intended)
She had to "apply" to get her standing desk. She had to first request it, then fill out forms, go see a doctor and get a note stating why she medically needed it. What the heck?
To top it off she was chided by her coworkers for being difficult. Seriously? You ask her to sit 90% of an 8 hour period and have a problem with providing a standing desk?
Would you really prefer higher insurance premiums?
Finally, the ergonomics person came to set up her standing desk and guess what?
Thankfully, nowadays more people are becoming aware of this issue and it's not such anomaly for employers to see requests like that.
Also please implore your schools to order a standing desk converter! We seriously need these in every classroom. There are a few schools who have made the leap and they are seeing benefits.
What about your school? Read this article on how one school did it.
Dr. Weil's Take
Did you know that even Dr Weil recently posted a similar opinion on the sitting epidemic which you can read right here?
And if you wanted to read even more about how sitting too much affects your risk for developing a sitting disease, just visit this page
Summing it Up
All in all, we recommend you just move more; your family and your body will thank you. What can we do to be less sedentary even when we have a desk job? Besides looking into treadmill desks and standing desk converter, below are some other ideas.
We offer more health and fitness tips and advice on our site.
Sitting Epidemic Infographic.