Six Ways to Combat the Sitting Disease

The standing desk craze hit my workplace recently. My standing desk colleagues emailed around articles to try to convince the rest of us to switch. One article claimed that sitting all day was just as bad for you as smoking.

But I still refuse to get a standing desk.

Part of it is that I just don’t like standing. It’s tiring. When I’m not logging miles for marathon training, enduring brutal spin classes, and or lunging and squatting in my boot camp class, this girl just wants to sit! Although I haven’t tried it, I don’t anticipate being able to focus well on my work while standing. And my main reason to avoid the standing desk fad is that standing while working is not the only way to combat sitting. The studies or experts these articles quote usually recommend moving more throughout the day over anything. So even though I have a sit-behind-the-computer-all-day kind of job, I have a few ways to keep moving at work.

1. Drink Water. Lots of It. My morning ritual includes turning on my computer, putting my lunch in the fridge, and filling up my water bottle. I have a 32-ounce Nalgene permanently stationed next to my computer, and I aim to drink two of these bad boys each day. I’m super hydrated, plus the frequent bathroom breaks keep me moving! Since I chug so much water, I also take responsibility for changing the water cooler when it’s empty. This is an added bonus because lifting a 5-gallon jug is definitely good for my strength!

2. Take the Less Convenient Route. I could store my lunch in the fridge close to my desk. Or I could use the downstairs fridge, which will take more effort. I could use the restroom just a few steps away, or I could head to the bathroom on the other floor. I do not follow this rule as strictly as the others because sometimes it can really be a pain to inconvenience myself! But if I’m feeling up it, I’ll try to find a more challenging route so that I move around more.

3. Schedule a Walk Break. Almost every day at 3 p.m., without fail, I begin to think about my coworker’s candy dish. But I try to replace this temptation with a 10-minute walk. Around the same time, a few of my colleagues leave to get coffee, so I’ll usually join them if I can. Skipping the candy dish is good, but walking for a few minutes is even better.

4. If Possible, Don’t Work Through Lunch. The days I work through lunch always feel so much longer than the days I don’t. I’d rather work later because I took a break instead of skip my lunch break, eat at my desk, and leave earlier. After sitting for a few hours, this is an opportunity to get up and move around. Maybe I’ll go to the gym, or maybe I’ll walk to the fancy grocery store down the street and pick up something to eat. Maybe I’ll just grab my lunch and eat it in the kitchen or outside, but every step counts!

5. Chat in Person Instead of Emailing. Whenever I can, I try to talk something over with a colleague rather than emailing about it. By the time I write the email, send it, and receive a response, I could have walked over to their desk, received my answer, and walked back. So it’s both more efficient for my work flow, and it’s healthier for me. Plus, communicating in person is always good!

6. Sit Well. Even with all my little tricks, I still spend a majority of my day sitting. So I try to do my best to sit well and tall. This is a challenge because I have had bad posture my whole life, and the last few computer desk years haven’t helped. To strengthen my core and remind myself to straighten my back, I sit on one of those dorky exercise balls most of the day. Maybe I’m just as weird as the standing desk people, but it works for me, plus it’s more fun!

Betsy Mikel |