Movement is the key to a healthy body

YOU'VE read the news about how sitting all day long can impact negatively on your health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time is linked with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome - a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, it says.

But what can you do about it?

The answer is two-fold and includes altering your day-to-day routine and perhaps even getting some new office equipment.

First, have a look at your work routines and habits.

Patrick Sim, National Director of the Chiropractors Association of Australia, says that if you have to sit at a desk, getting up every hour and moving around for a minute will help break the sitting pattern.

He suggests stretching, getting a glass of water, or taking a quick outdoor break.

If you're having a brainstorm, or a meeting, with colleagues, and it's possible to stand up or move around, do it.

Standing up every time you take a phone call is also an easy way to break the routine, as is going to someone's desk to communicate rather than sending an email.

"It is about movement, " he says, "and you need to get more of it."

If necessary, set an alarm on your phone or computer, or put a timer on your desk.

Make sure your desk is ergonomically set up too.

See your occupational health and safety officer for advice.

All of these measures will help you avoid pain and negative health effects.

But even better is the second solution - get a standing or height- adjustable desk.

"They're a great idea but you do need a foot rest with them," says Patrick.

If you find your back getting stiff, elevating one foot on the rest can help.

You also need to get used to a height-adjustable desk, not just switch straight over, the reason that it's good to have a height-adjustable chair too.

"You can stand up some of the time, and sit down some of the time."

The point is, you're not static for eight hours a day.

Remember, too, that even though standing may be better for you, you still need to set up the desk ergonomically.

You should be looking directly at the computer screen, not craning your neck up or down.

And your shoulders should be back, not slumped, while your glutes need to be engaged to make sure your position is strong.

Just because you're standing doesn't mean you don't need to move around either.

Remain conscious of being in a static position and shake out your shoulders, your legs, or your feet and still go for that water break.

If you have a back, neck or knee problem, it's probably smart to check with your doctor or your physical therapist about how suitable standing up all day will be for you.

Now you may think that getting a height adjustable desk sounds like an expensive exercise.

But, as this trend catches on, even places like IKEA are offering them.

You can also make adjustments to your own or get a friend or partner who is handy to rebuild the desk you have.

Of course, if you work at an office, this may be more difficult, but speak to your boss about what adjustments are possible.

>>More Health News

Pros and Cons of a Standing Desk


  • Better blood flow
  • Improves posture and core strength
  • Reduces pressure on lower spine


  • Leg/feet soreness
  • May involve some financial output
  • Takes a while to get used to

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