By Betty Murray
The more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, increase in blood sugar, and poor cholesterol. This isn’t good news for those of us who have desk jobs.
No matter how dedicated you are to your job, your health and wellbeing should come first, and that means finding ways to stay fit, even with a desk job.
Here are a few tips to reduce your risk factors for heart disease and other health complications due to sitting for long periods of time.
• Take regular breaks. Every hour, stand up and walk around for 10 or 15 minutes. Need to take a phone call? Stand up while you’re on the phone. Have a meeting planned with another coworker? Make it a walking meeting rather than sitting in the conference room. Even intermittent exercise can significantly reduce your risk factors for heart disease.
• Form a wellness group with coworkers. We all need encouragement and accountability to stay healthy. So grab some coworkers and start a wellness group. Spend time working out together and encouraging each other to eat healthy. Check in regularly to see how everyone in the group is doing. The group doesn’t need to have a specific “weight loss” focus, but should rather be focused on improving overall wellness.
• Eat small meals throughout the day. Bring fresh fruit and veggies to work with you as well as quick and easy sources of protein, like protein bars. Rather than eating one meal at lunch, eat smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. This will help also help to keep your energy level up and your blood sugar from crashing, resulting in afternoon sleepiness.
• Exercise before or after work. Having a desk job doesn’t negate the positive effects of a good workout. While it’s beneficial to find ways to stand up and move throughout the day, if you aren’t able to exercise during the day, plan a good workout before or after work each day. People who have desk jobs but who get regular exercise every morning or evening are still at lower risk of health problems than those who sit all day and do not exercise.
Remember, the recommended amount of exercise for adults is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly. This works out to 30 minutes per day, five days a week — and it doesn’t have to be in full 30-minute segments. Ten minutes of exercise here and 10 minutes there still holds the same health benefits.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.