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Archive for January 21st, 2010

The Walkstation
Image by Scoobyfoo via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

It’s all over the web today…too much seat time can hurt your heart, increase your risk for cancer, obesity and diabetes, according to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn. Doctors from the Karolinska Institute and the Swedish School of Sport and Health conducted a study that shows that sitting too long, not just lack of exercise, can contribute to heart disease and other life threatening diseases.

Journalist, Michelle Fay Cortez, writes in “Sitting Is a Silent Killer, Swedish Medics Warn Couch Potatoes” from Bloomberg.com, “The more time people spend in a completely sedentary state, independent of the exercise they get at other times, the higher their risk of becoming obese, and developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer, the doctors wrote in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The dangers are greater still for people who do little exercise as it is, the authors wrote.

While many people think of being sedentary as lacking in exercise, this is more accurately described as the time when the body’s muscles get no activity, the doctors said. They cited an Australian study showing that each extra hour women spent watching television boosted their risk of developing a group of heart complications known as metabolic syndrome by 26 percent, regardless of what exercise they took.”

Read entire article at Bloomberg here.

Unfortunately, most people I know, especially “knowledge workers” have jobs that require us to sit for hours behind a computer.  So, what do you do? Tell your boss, hey, my job is killing me? Not likely. However, many workplaces are responding to such studies with Walk at Work programs. Or allowing staff to go to yoga or other workout classes at lunch. Or providing yoga classes or personal training sessions at work. Some companies provide employees with desks that move up and down to allow for standing. Some very progressive companies use Walk Stations for employees to walk while they work on their computers. Other companies provide regular massage to help increase circulation to your muscles. Massage therapists also provide stretches for sedentary employees.

How to Add More Movement to Your Work Day

You can incorporate more movement and less sitting into your workday yourself with these simple ideas:

1. Take the stairs when you can versus an elevator.

2. Walk up or down a few flights of stairs for a 5-minute break every few hours.

3. Do jumping jacks at your desk or, if that embarrasses you, in the restroom.

4. Do squats at your desk. Simply stand up, then barely sit, then stand, then barely sit. Repeat 5 or 10 times.

5. Do side bends at your desk. Do 3 sets on each side and hold each “bend” for 15 seconds.

6. Stand up, take a few deep breathes, then reach for the ceiling, inhale, exhale and sit down again.

7. Stand up and do arm circles.

8. Walk around the office-take a few laps!

9. Stand at your desk when you are on the phone. March in place for extra points!

10. Drink water at your desk in a sport bottle to keep the water cool and prevent spills. If you drink about 20 ounces every few hours your bladder will create a natural timer for you to get up and take a break!

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