How to Offset a Day of Sitting

A man rubbing his neck in pain while sitting at his desk.

Having a desk job or working in an office can keep you sedentary for long periods throughout the day. It’s important to note that the consequences of not getting enough physical activity are slow, steady, chronic, and lifelong. Sitting still is not a good habit to get into, and it can be hard to break. Luckily there are plenty of ways to slowly introduce more activity into your daily routine without feeling overwhelmed.

A man using a standing desk.
Many people have started using standing desks to help prevent sitting for their entire workday.

So how do we counter these effects that are bound to set in overtime? Research suggests that less than an hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day is enough to prevent them. Getting 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity per day is enough to balance out 10 straight hours of sitting still.

Studies have also shown that people living a sedentary lifestyle — such as working in an office and not being very active before, during, or after work — had an increased risk of death. While people who worked in some strenuous activity each day, their risk of death decreased. This is especially important during the times we are currently facing, where tons of people happen to be working from home indefinitely.

Keep in mind that all physical activity counts. So you don’t have to take up kick-boxing, run out and join your local gym, enter a marathon, or do anything else extreme if you don’t want to. You can incorporate simple things into your daily routine to keep you from sitting still for too long.

A man stretching on a yoga mat in his home office

Doing household chores like vacuuming, dancing, going for a walk or jog in the fresh air, and trying out some new yoga positions in the comfort of your living room are easy ways to get moving while working from home.

The CDC claims that employees who are healthy and happy are more productive in the workplace. So if you are still working at an office, you can make it a goal to go for a brisk walk when you get home. If you have a dog, you can take them along with you. Or, if you are looking for ways to make yourself a bit more active during work hours, you can set an alarm every hour for you to stand up and get moving.

Go get a cup of water and walk over to the bathroom even if you don’t plan on using it. On your lunch break take a short walk around the building, and if there are stairs nearby always opt for using them instead of an elevator. Maybe even consider getting a standing desk or an exercise ball to use instead of a standard desk chair.

If you are not too far away from your workplace, think about investing in a bicycle and riding it to work a couple of days a week instead of driving. Not only will you save gas and money, but you’ll be improving your health at the same time.

There are plenty of ways to make a desk job a little more active; it just takes some willpower and creativity. If you feel like you need some extra encouragement, purchase a fitness tracker to help you set stricter goals and hold you accountable.

As long as you are getting in 30-40 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity — or even just being more mindful of how long you’ve been sitting still — it will help you live a longer and healthier life.