In this modern era of work and our increased reliance on technology, we are finding ourselves bound to our desks for longer and longer hours.
I recently read a statement suggesting that sitting at your desk was so detrimental to your health, that it could be classed as the new smoking! This is a strong statement indeed, however, there may be merit to be had from some of the reasoning.
As a Doctor of Osteomyology and functional medicine plus a qualified personal trainer, the benefits of moving and the dynamic necessity we have for circulation of blood and lymph, not to mention joint health, is something I find myself constantly helping my patients to harness. We decided to give you a hand with some fabulous health tips to keep yourself as healthy as you can in mind, body and fuel.
Here are some tips to keep yourself healthier at your desk job.
1) Be conscious of your posture at your desk. I am sure you are aware that there is a good posture for a workstation that will lessen the musculoskeletal stress on the body. It's understandable that as you become tired or absorbed into a piece of work your posture may not be at the forefront of your mind allowing you to start slumping. Set an alarm on your computer or your phone to remind you to correct your posture throughout the day. An incorrect posture could cause a misalignment of the spine, muscular tightness and reversing the spinal curves could cause structural weakness and can compress the abdominal contents inhibiting digestion.
2) Be mindful of constant snacking at your desk, it is all too easy to get carried away and lose track of how much you are eating. So don’t skip your breakfast. Breakfast helps to boost your metabolism after sleeping and can help to combat hunger pangs. Plan your snacks and have some healthy ones to eat halfway through the morning and the afternoon.
3) Drink plenty of fluids in your day. Water, fruit or herbal teas are great and two litres a day is your aim. Filling up your water bottle from a water station will also increase your activity level and help to reduce stiffness. Take a break from your work and add those extra steps to your stagnant day. Keeping hydrated will help you to remain alert. Ditching fizzy drinks for green tea is a fantastic switch which could possibly deliver additional health benefits to help battle those autumn coughs and colds.
4) Try to take a little walk every day. Perhaps at lunchtime and maybe with a colleague. The fresh air will help and if it's sunny this will increase your vitamin D uptake as well. Try walking up to your colleagues' desk instead of making a phone call or sending an email. If you commute, try getting off a stop earlier to walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work park your car in the space furthest away instead of the nearest.
5) Performing a simple set of exercises at your desk will help to keep your musculoskeletal system supple and healthy. It could also help to strengthen and tone muscles. Try - 1) Squats: If you feel conscious about standing up and sitting down at your desk, tell your work colleagues what you are doing and get them to join in. 2) One of my favourite variations is to use a fitness ball at your desk instead of a chair. It will help you to work on your core strength and balance and will prevent you being able to slump in your chair. It could help you to reduce existing or potential lower back problems and pain. 3) If you can stand up at your desk for even part of your day, you could lower the risk of weight gain and research suggests your productivity may even be increased. 4) Arm circles - Sitting at your desk, stretch your arms out to the sides and keeping your back straight move your arms in forward circles for a count of 25 and then in reverse circles for a further count of 25. This exercise could help to strengthen the muscles in your neck and upper back.
Remember making small but sustainable changes means you more likely to maintain them.