Your job can literally make you sick.
Two-thirds of Americans now use a computer on a regular basis at work. This leads to an unhealthy amount of sitting everyday. According to the CDC, people with sedentary jobs are twice as likely to die of heart disease than those with active jobs.
What Can Be Done?
For most, changing jobs is not a realistic choice, but being active outside of work is something nearly everyone can do. Strive for 15-30 minutes of heart pounding, vigorous exercise EVERYDAY. Exercise doesn't have to be long if the intensity is high enough. As always, consult your doctor to see if you have any restrictions when it comes to exercise. At a minimum, get out every night for a nice easy walk.
Repetitive stress from sedentary work can also lead to a multitude of structural problems. This can include chronic pain and numbness in your arms, legs, and spine. Of all the problems I see at the office everyday, those stemming from repeated computer/phone use are the most common. Proper posture when working on the computer is something I preach to patients about. Be sure to take regular breaks, even if you only have a minute or two. This can make a world of difference in how you feel by the end of the day.
Here is a list of 5 Simple Stretching Exercises that can be done right at your desk.
1. Side Bends: With one hand behind your head, and the other extended to your side, bend toward your extended arm. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then repeat the other side. Be sure to breathe, keep both feet flat on the floor, and your hips level.
2. Scapular Retraction: While sitting or standing, interlock both hands behind your head. Try and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
3. Neck Rolls: This one is simple, but very effective. Start by looking straight ahead, and gently roll your head in a clockwise circle. Repeat 3-5 times, then go in a counterclockwise direction.
4. Look Up, Reach Up: This one requires you to stand up from your desk. With your hands extended and reaching above your head, look straight up at the ceiling and perform a gentle back bend. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
5. Stand Up/Sit Down: This one with help get some blood flow to the lower half of your body. While sitting in your chair, stand up, but WITHOUT using your hands. Then sit back down, once again without using your hands. Repeat 5-10 times. This with engage your core muscles and work your legs.
In closing, whether you have a sedentary job or not, it is vitally important that you lead an active and healthy life. Get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather we have been having by going for a hike or maybe a nice easy bike ride. Combined with a healthy diet, good lifestyle choices, and regular spinal check-ups, you will be well on your way to living a great life!