There’s nothing quite like opening the website of your favorite news source and learning that your job is slowly killing you, but I’ve read a lot of articles lately about the dangers of desk jobs. The main threat seems to be the ill effects of sitting. Even if you work out regularly, if you spend the bulk of your day sitting, you will likely still struggle with slower metabolism and weight problems. It might seem like a hopeless cause, unless you’re interested in a career change, but there are several alternatives to sitting from 9 to 5.
Yes, you can stand at your desk. While I initially thought this sounded crazy, the more I read about it the more it appeals to me. You’ll burn more calories and are more likely to use better posture. While it sounds uncomfortable, good shoes, a cushy floor mat and a footstool can help relieve some of the pressure on your knees. Just like there are downsides to sitting all day, standing all day isn’t for everyone. The ideal is to find a balance between sitting and standing. Perhaps standing for computer work, but sitting for phone calls and meetings. Or if there’s a table nearby, you could sit for a portion of your day, especially if you work from a laptop. Read about how one woman made the transition here.
Skip sitting in your desk chair for sitting on a yoga or therapy ball. Balancing on the ball keeps your muscles engaged so you stay more active. (Warning! Bad Pun Ahead!) Plus, it can literally add some bounce to your day. (I hope you have more success with it than Dwight did.)
Standing desks and therapy balls aren’t always realistic alternatives. If you’d rather stick it out with your desk chair, keep a few things in mind. Make sure you have a quality desk chair with proper back support. You’ll want to adjust your chair so your feet are flat on the floor and your wrist and forearms are flat on the desk. If this is tricky, use a footrest. (Empty boxes and phone books make excellent footrests.) Looking straight out, your eyes should hit around the top of your monitor. You might need to use a monitor stand to get your monitor at the optimum level. (Find more tips on a good chair posture here.) Also, try to find as many excuses to move as you can. I used to take a large water bottle to work so I wouldn’t have to refill it as much, but then I downsized my cup for more occasions to stretch my legs.
Forty hours a week adds up fast and takes its toll on our bodies. However, a desk job doesn’t have to mean a sedentary lifestyle. How do you stay active at work?