Work it: Staying Active at the Office Really Works to Build Strength and Combat Sitting Disease

“Exercise”. We all know how important it is…and, when we find the kind we love, how good it feels. But the reality is, in today’s workaday world, there are times it can be hard to fit in, no matter how committed we are. Not only that, studies are increasingly revealing how long hours sitting at a desk can actually cancel out the benefits of even rigorous, daily exercise. “Sitting Disease”, a term coined by the scientific community to refer to the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle, is becoming a more commonly used phrase to describe prolonged sitting, whether at home, at the office, or on-the-go. Whether or not it’s officially diagnosed, it’s real, and it’s killing us. Good news, we can rise up against Sitting Disease, and all the associated ill effects, including back pain, poor posture, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, and even cancer…simply by regularly, well, rising up. Making a conscious effort to get up and move regularly throughout the day will indeed go a long way to maintaining health, research suggests. What’s more, teaming up with others throughout the work day can yield positive results for both individuals and team, boosting morale and freshening up productivity. The word “exercise” comes from the Latin exercere, meaning to keep busy or at work. Ironically, however, keeping busy at work today typically means the opposite of what we’d associate with exercise. Adding in a little “deskercise” doesn’t have to be overly complicated to be effective, however, nor need it take a great deal of time to make a significant impact. For an inspiring example, check in with the City of Longmont Planning and Development Services Team, whose New Year’s plank challenge is going strong, and making each participant stronger. The plank is an excellent exercise for building core strength and improve posture. Depending on the type/modifications, you can engage back, shoulders, arms, glute, and hamstrings muscles. All you need are a few minutes (or even 30 seconds, starting out). And, you don’t need any equipment whatsoever. “Beginning the first day back at work after the new year, a group of us started with three 30-second plank sessions for a total of 1 ½ minutes,” Senior Planner Erin Fosdick says. “Not, we’ve worked up to almost four minutes!” A core group meets in the hall or individual offices at about 8:30 each morning, Fosdick says, welcoming all who are interested. As times have increased, individuals report feeling definitively stronger. Further, the feel-good results and camaraderie have built forward momentum. Planks have begun to be incorporated in other City meetings, sparking other team challenges. Not sure planks are the right fit for you? Not to worry! Experiment, and you’ll find what is. In the meantime, remember to just keep moving through the day. Extend your legs in your chair. Take the stairs. Walk to co-workers rather than email, or with them over a meeting. Get up and get some water. It’s worth it, and those seconds you take eyes off the computer will produce better work and more importantly, protect better health. Every step counts.

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