Keenan Blog

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Killing Me Softly

Kathy Espinoza 2/6/2013
Kathy Espinoza

Growing up, I remember a song by Roberta Flack called “Killing Me Softly” about lyrics that affected her deeply. Lately, my theme song seems to be “Killing Me Softly with My Office Chair.” I’m realizing how much time in my day is spent just sitting. Drive time to and from work. In my office for hours. At dinner followed by TV watching. I’m like the proverbial frog that doesn’t realize the water in the pot is getting warmer. It’ll soon boil and create a real health hazard!

I used to think exercising one hour a day would fend off all evils, like the extra piece of cake after dinner or a few M&Ms here and there. But even people who exercise regularly can suffer the ill effects of spending long periods of time sitting.

It makes sense that people with limited mobility, like those in wheelchairs, may have problems with circulation due to prolonged sitting. But research shows that sitting for more than an hour can reduce the production of fat-burning enzymes by as much as 90%. Extended sitting also slows the body’s metabolism of glucose and lowers the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood

You may have heard about the treadmill workstation. Nice idea, but it’s hard enough to read the print when sitting in front of my computer screen. While walking on a treadmill? That said, I do think workstations that allow people to stand for periods during the day are a good idea, as well as incorporating more movement in your day.

Here are some tips:

  • Stand up to answer and talk on the phone
  • Program Outlook to remind you to stand up every hour
  • Instead of emailing, get up and walk over to ask a question
  • Go outside to eat a packed lunch rather than eating at the desk
  • Drink more water so you’ll get up and visit to the bathroom more often
  • Create a fun walking path around the inside or outside of your office; organize walking buddies or hold a competition to reinforce a daily walk during breaks or lunchtimes
  • Become a “stair master” and use the stairs each day

Sitting for long hours in front of a computer is now a necessity in our busy lives. But there are alternatives. Adjustable sit/stand equipment is becoming more acceptable in the office environment, and I heartily support this trend. Who knows, you may just find you’re more alert, have less back pain, less fatigue and more energy throughout the day.

So stand up and give it a shot!

How do you take breaks to avoid sitting all day in your office? Post your ideas below.