How to stay active at work

Posted on 5 September 2016

If you are reading this, chances are you’re probably at work, taking a break at your desk before tackling the next task on your computer.

You prefer to eat your lunch at your desk, because you don’t want to break your focus. You never go out, because you don’t want to be seen as the unproductive employee. While your deskbound ways may make you seem very disciplined and productive, your body is definitely not reaping the rewards.

Having a generally sedentary lifestyle – sitting down at your desk with little or no physical activity during the day – has several negative effects on your physical health. Chineldi Pienaar, a referring biokineticist at Mediclinic Sandton, usually refers to sitting as ‘the new smoking’ when dealing with her patients.

Research has shown that an inactive office lifestyle can cause a higher risk of various muscular and skeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. And that’s not all – being exposed to the air conditioning, harsh lighting and bacteria breeding on your keyboard can also cause a vast amount of respiratory and bacterial diseases over time.

The solution? Get up and get out!

While it’s not possible to have a treadmill in your cubicle in your open office (unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg), there are other ways you can sneak in forms of exercise during the day. Try these:

•    Walk If possible, try to take your lunch break away from your desk. If it’s safe enough in your area, walk to the nearest park or around the block.
•    Climb – don’t ride! Take the stairs instead of the lift when you have to run errands between floors.
•    Talk If you want to ask your colleague down the corridor something, walk over there.
•    Adjust Ensure your desk chair is the right height for your desk, and that your computer screen is at a good height and distance away from your eyes.
•    Sit up straight An incorrect sitting position can cause permanent poor posture and all types of aches and strains. Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen, your elbows comfortable next to your sides, your feet flat on the floor, and your chair back should support the natural curve of your spine.
•    Stretch Do stretches at your desk as soon as you feel yourself tensing up – roll back your shoulders, stretch out your legs or get up and sit down.
•    Get up Make a habit of standing up or walking around when you take a call on your mobile phone. And while on the topic of phones – never, ever clench your phone between your neck and shoulder while talking on your landline.
•    Clean Tidy up and reorganise your desk area, and disinfect your keyboard and mouse at least once a week.

Published in Healthy living

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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