What have you done in the last hour? Maybe you moved a meeting, moved around a few emails and moved a few to-do’s to someone else’s plate. But did you move your butt? Or did you do all of this sitting, hunched over the keyboard and fixated on the computer screen?

These days, sitting gets a bad rap. After all, you’re not just sitting – you’re getting stuff done! But while you feel productive in these hours-long sitting binges, your body feels the reality: sick. Several studies suggest that no, it’s not you’re imagination – too much chair time can boost health risks, such as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and premature death.

Worse, a 30-minute gym session after work won’t undo the damage caused by sitting all day. Kent Burden, wellness coach and author of “The Office Workout: 75 Exercises to Do at Your Desk,” says that in some ways, sitting is like smoking. A pack-a-day smoker can’t reverse his risk of lung cancer by going on daily runs. And while regular exercise is obviously great for health and wellness, it doesn’t cancel a day of sitting.

But this article isn’t about exercising. It’s simply about moving more. No sweatband or extra swipe of deodorant necessary. To combat the health risks of prolonged sitting, experts suggest breaking up periods of sitting with small movements such as standing, stretching and walking. Here’s how to incorporate these movements in the workplace:

First, unglue yourself from your chair​. Moving more at work doesn’t mean you have to take an hour out of your day to do CrossFit. Simply standing more frequently throughout the day is good for your body and metabolism. “Once you stand, all those postural muscles fire up. They start sucking sugar and fat out of the bloodstream to keep those muscles going,” Burden says.

A U.S. News Health article about breaking your sitting habit recommends standing at least once every 30 minutes and integrating the action into your regular work activities by standing while taking phone calls and during teleconferences and meetings. Another option ​is to request a standing desk.

Set reminders. Everyone’s been there: You hit a groove at 10 a.m., fixating on a single task or checking off to-do’s at a rapid-fire pace. And then – whoops – you worked through lunchtime. Give yourself a poke to stand up by setting hourly reminders on your personal calendar, Outlook calendar or phone, suggests Pamela Hernandez, personal trainer and U.S. News Eat + Run​ ​blogger. Burden agrees, and adds that fitness trackers ​can help remind you to get off your butt, too.

Get stretching. In addition to standing, Burden suggests trying these low-key, cubicle-friendly stretches throughout the day:

  • Hip fold: “Stand up, hinge at the hips, soften the knees and allow the head to drop down toward the floor,” he says, adding that this move lengthens the hamstrings while improving blood flow and circulation.
  • Backbend:​ “Standing at your desk, place your hands at the top of your buttocks, and press your hips forward,” Burden says. “Pull the shoulders back, open up the chest and think about getting your heart to rise up toward the ceiling as you lean your head back.” He points out that this stretch is great for the hip flexors – muscles at the front of your hips that are contracted all day while sitting. It’s also great for relieving back pain and improving spine flexibility, he adds.
  • Chest squeeze: Place your palms together with fingers facing forward and elbows outward in roughly 90-degree angles, Burden says. Then contract your chest while pushing your palms together. This simple stretch, “improves strength in the chest, shoulders and triceps,” he says. “And it’s something you can do right at the desk – no one can see you doing it.”
  • Chair hover: With your hands to your side and pressed against the seat of your chair​, lift your body weight by raising your butt and feet a few inches​​, Burden says. Too easy? Lift your knees toward your chest, too, or brace your hands on the arm rails instead of the seat to lift yourself up. “That works your upper body and works the circulation in your lower body,” Burden says, pointing out that folks should be careful when trying this exercise in a chair with wheels.

Work in some walking. Choose the stairs over the elevator and personal visits with co-workers versus email, Burden suggests. He also advocates for casual walking meetings to get your team’s blood pumping. Plus, “The thing about walking meetings is you can’t hide in the corner. You can’t sit and doodle in a notepad. You can’t disconnect from the meeting,” he says. “Everyone is engaged.”

Change your mindset. Nobody is asking you to take up hot yoga between meetings or bike 20 miles to work and back each day. Think smaller. Simply start with tiny bouts of standing, stretching and walking. “None of this is hard,” Burden says. “You should not break a sweat. You should not get out of breath. There should not be a point where you’re sweating under your arms.”

Consider these movements as necessary aspects of your day, like moving those emails around – nothing scary. “You say the word ‘exercise’ around 75 percent of people, and they look like deer in the headlights,” Burden says. “Look at this as simply being more active.”


Start typing and press Enter to search