Updated: Apr 24, 2019
Physical inactivity has now been identified as the fourth biggest killer on the planet.
The World Health Organisation has called sitting the new smoking, warning that prolonged periods of inactivity increases our risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, muscular and back issues, deep vein thrombosis, brittle bones, depression and even dementia.
The recommended amount of exercise for adults per week, according to the W.H.O, is at least 150 minutes, or 30 minutes per day for five days. However, if you spend the rest of your waking hours sitting still, it won’t be enough to undo the damage. It’s like working out in the gym then going home to eat pizza and chips.
So what’s the solution?
Scientists suggest that small amounts of regular movement throughout the day is enough to bring down your blood pressure and blood glucose levels, which tend to increase during long periods of inactivity.
Simply standing up for a while can have major benefits and some offices have already introduced “standing desks” where staff can continue their work without having to sit down. If you really want to splash out, you could invest in a “treadmill desk”, although these cost between £1,500 - £3000.
A cheaper alternative is to try these simple “deskercise” movements, which take no more than 10 minutes to complete. You could even split them up throughout your day, doing each exercise for 2-3 minutes.
Avoid lifts and escalators - take the stairs instead!
Walk to work - also a fantastic opportunity for a bit of “me time”. Stick on an audiobook and get your reading time boxed off as well.
Standing meetings - even if your company won’t invest in stand up desks, encourage your colleagues to stand for the morning meeting. You’ll find it also increases energy levels and improves your mood!
Go out for lunch - even if you bring a packed lunch to work, take it out of the office to eat it. Many workers stay seated in their office chair for their hour lunch break, when it’s the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs.
Adjust your chair position - while you are sitting down, make sure your feet, hips and arms are at 90-degree angles to the floor. Engage your core (stomach muscles) to keep your back straight throughout the day. Keep your shoulders back.