For many of us, sitting is a big part of our daily routines. We sit at work, at home while watching television, eating dinner, going to the movies, commuting, and relaxing. On average, Americans sit between seven and 13 hours each day.
Ron DeAngelo, MEd, ATC, CSCS, FAFS, Director of the Sports Performance Program at UPMC Sports Medicine, describes the changes in human activity as something that occurred over time. “We weren’t designed to sit. In prehistoric era, we never sat. As human beings, we were built to be hunters and gatherers on the move. But now, we’re hunters and gatherers in front of a computer.”
Although our society has evolved past the point where everyone gathered their own food, sitting for longer periods of time still has a negative effect on people who do not find other ways to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.
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Sitting disease refers to the damaging health effects of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. In fact, sitting for extended periods of time can shorten the hamstrings, abductors, and hip flexors. The seated position also causes slouching which disengages our body’s core.
Recent research has found that excessive sitting is linked to more than 24 chronic diseases and health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Certain types of cancer
Movement throughout the work day helps our muscles stay loose, which prevents injury and can help increase productivity. To break up your day, the UPMC Sports Medicine experts recommend getting up every hour to take a walk or do some simple stretches in your workspace.
How the UPMC Office Staff Stays Active at Work
- “I take the stairs rather than the elevator going to my office or the restroom two floors below.”
- “I do yoga stretches in my office.”
- “I walk over to my coworkers when I have a question or project update instead of email, calling, or instant messaging.”
- “I use the printer on the other side of the office instead of the one closest to my desk.”
- “I go to a Pilates or yoga class over lunch as often as I can.”
- “I take a walk every day over my lunch break. I’ve lost 30 pounds and managed to keep it off!”
- “I use free weights at my desk to do arm exercises.”
- “I sit on an exercise ball to strengthen my core. I alternate sitting on my chair and the exercise ball for time intervals.”
- “I use a standing desk.”
- “I keep a water tumbler at my desk. Every time I empty it, I refill immediately.”
- “I wear a fitness tracker. It counts my steps, alerts me when I’ve been idle too long and reminds me to get up and move. This has made me more aware of my actions when at work.”
- “I schedule time for exercise into my daily calendar.”
Additional Tips to Get Exercise at Work
In addition to these active habits and suggestions, consider adding the tips below into your work routine:
- Hold a walking meeting or meet and walk outside when weather permits.
- Do squats, lunges, or other exercises while using the copier, fax machine, or microwave.
- Set an hourly timer on your computer to remind you to get up for a walk or stretch each hour.
- Keep a resistance band at your desk for light strengthening exercises and dedicate a few minutes of each hour to stretching.
- If getting up to use the restroom, talk to a coworker, or grab a snack, take an additional lap around your office.
- Use good posture when sitting.
- Start a challenge with your team using pedometers to measure the most steps taken in a day.
- When reading emails or typing, do some arm lifts and stretches.
By making simple adjustments into your workday routine, you may find that the increase in activity makes you feel better and more productive. To learn more about sitting disease and ways to prevent it, call 1-855-93-SPORTS (77678) or visit the Sports Medicine website.
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About Sports Medicine
An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.