Experts warned about the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles as yet another epidemic back in 2014. In 2021, we got ourselves a killer combo of the coronavirus pandemic, sedentary work from home, and mental health issues. While coping with the first and the latter may be beyond your capabilities, dealing with a sedentary job on your own is quite possible.
Below are some tips to help you stay focused and full of energy even if you are stuck at your desk all day long.
Make Sure Your Workplace Is Equipped Right
Most of the problems related to the sedentary lifestyle are the result of improper workplace equipment. Sitting on an uncomfortable chair at a tiny and cluttered desk hardly contributes to your productivity, well-being, and concentration.
This means you spend more time sitting trying to focus and get your work done. So the first step is to tidy up your desk. Remove everything except the laptop or monitor, pen, and notebook.
Next, take a look at your chair. Ideally, it should be ergonomic and customized both for your height and the height of your desk. The back of the chair should be in full contact with your back and your elbows should be in a natural position on the table.
The level of the monitor should be at the level of your eyes. If necessary, place several books to set the laptop higher.
Proper organization of the workplace and healthy seating is already half the battle. However, it doesn’t guarantee 100% immunity to potential problems, so use the following approaches to support your health.
Alternate Between Sitting, Standing, and Laying
A sedentary lifestyle is very tricky. And unfortunately, its consequences often come when it becomes very difficult to cope with them. Statistics show that prolonged sitting increases the risk of death, heart disease, muscle wasting, diabetes, and even cancer, not to mention poor posture and blood circulation. That’s why you should literally step up to prevent these deadly problems.
Here’s a simple strategy. Alternate between sitting at a desk with standing and (yes!) slacking on the couch when working. Standing work desks are a relatively new invention designed to reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and like all novelties, they are not that cheap.
However, you can create a standing workspace yourself. Just place the additional laptop stand on your desk, and adjust it to suit your height, so that the level of the monitor is in front of your eyes and you can comfortably operate the keyboard without bending your back.
As for the option to work lying down, it may seem like an anti-advice since it becomes difficult to draw the line between a place to rest and a place to work. However, your back does not think so as this is its opportunity to rest. According to this logic, there is nothing wrong with working lying down for a couple of hours. This option is still better than sitting all day long.
Take Your Breaks and Go Outside
This is one of the most popular tips on how to support your health despite a desk job. However, it may also have a pitfall. Taking breaks may lead to the loss of focus and concentration so you also need to be smart with your tasks and the time you need to cope with them.
For example, you may take a break after you are completely done with each of the tasks. Use this time wisely as well and spend it with health benefits – for instance, walk to the store and buy a healthy snack or walk with your dog if you are working from home.
Try going outside each time you have a break. This is already hackneyed advice but fresh air and vitamin D are still essential for your physical and mental health.
Practice Meetings on the Go
Even if you have a tight working schedule, this is not the reason to give up your health. An online meeting is just the opportunity to get some move since you are not necessarily tied to your desk and laptop. Mobile versions of all the modern online conferencing tools have the necessary features to get in touch with colleagues, customers, and partners, share your docs, stream your video and demonstrate your screen.
This approach allows you to effectively combine your work issues with wellness activities so give it a try the next time you have an online meeting.
Use Every Opportunity to Move
While pandemic-related restrictions hardly contribute to proceeding with an active lifestyle, there are still some opportunities to move and decrease the consequences of your desk job.
- Are the opportunities to use public transport limited in your location? Perfect, wake up a little earlier and get to the office on foot.
- Is the use of elevators undesirable due to lack of ventilation? Climb the steps on foot.
- Are you stuck at home, plus fitness centers are closed? Plan short workouts or yoga sessions using a mobile app and use one of your breaks to do it.
Use every opportunity to get some movement. If you have a smartwatch or a fitness bracelet, set it up so that it sends you a reminder to do a little stretching every hour.
Make Healthy Use Of Your Weekends
If you want to stay healthy despite your desk job, make the most use out of weekends. Avoid sitting at a desk watching YouTube videos or laying on a couch and staring at Netflix shows all weekend long.
Spend your weekends more actively instead – it will help you deal with accumulated tiredness, the feeling of being stuck, and lack of movement during your workdays. For example, schedule a bike ride, rollerblading or skateboarding, take a long walk in the forest, take part in an amateur running marathon, visit the swimming pool, go for a long walk with your dog, or do some work in your garden. Do whatever you want, just be active.
Being stuck at home and at a desk is quite a challenge for your physical and mental well-being. However, you still have the power to deal with it by making your health a priority.
These simple tactics will help you to avoid most of the sedentary lifestyle consequences, and even the pandemic isn’t the reason to abandon opportunities to move. You just need to switch the focus and adapt your lifestyle to the current reality.