Along with high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, too much sitting at work can be harmful to your health by under-using the body’s muscles, joints and nerves. Poor posture in unsupportive chairs allows core muscles to go unused, and unused muscles will deteriorate. While you may not be a bodybuilder, muscles aren’t just for pumping iron. In your everyday life, your muscles and the nerves that run through them stay alert to prevent you from injury, and when they go underused, your response time can suffer.
You might be thinking, “I’ll be okay because I go to the gym after work,” but unfortunately, poor posture and too much sedentary time will make your workout even harder. Positioning yourself in front of a computer all day weakens your glutes, among other muscles, because while you work, they don’t have to.
Taking breaks and walking during the work day is a good idea to stimulate both mind and body, but muscles need a different kind of workout. While cardio only burns fat when you are moving, muscles burn fat even when they are at rest, so after you’re done working out, they’re still working on your fat and metabolism. Muscle work can help prevent skin to sag or the shape of your behind to change. And the only thing worse than a flat behind is a potential curve at the top of your spine.
If you find yourself sitting for a majority of the day, try these five tips to re-engage your muscles, burn fat, and keep your energy flowing.
1. Sit on something that makes you find your balance. Exercise balls are excellent for allowing your core to be involved, rather than relying on the back of a chair.
2. Or don’t sit at all. Many offices are turning to standing desks to keep their employees energized and cut down on the time they’re sitting throughout the day. Some standing desks even convert back to seated with the press of a button. A recent study by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention found that the use of a standing desk reduced upper back and neck pain in 54% of users after just four weeks.
3. Bring some weights to the treadmill and turn down the speed. Cardio is great for your heart but your muscles need a different kind of exercise. Lunges and squats will re-engage muscles left dormant during the day. If your flexibility is limited, this is a sign from your body that it needs a good stretch.
4. Workout while you work. After straightening your spine and placing your feet flat on the floor, you can contract and release the muscles in your core. The movement will activate your body and your brain, and it will serve as a good reminder to breathe deeply and evenly.
5. Don’t be afraid to talk to H.R. about the healthiest ways for you to work! They care about your wellness and can help to find a solution that works for the company and for your well-being.