Restless at your workstation? Get up and MOVE!
Restless, fidgety, irritable. These words described me. I was restless at work. Sitting at the computer, answering emails and phone calls, developing slide presentations, and creating educational materials were tasks that were becoming more difficult daily. The solution was not expensive, did not require training or new skill development, and certainly was within my ability to fix. What did I need to do? MOVE!
The Dangers of Sitting
Sitting has been described as dangerous and harmful to both our physical and mental health. Heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers have been linked to a sedentary lifestyle. Some of the health challenges, caused by sitting for long periods daily, include excess body fat around the waist, increased blood pressure, a decline in energy levels, high blood sugar, and obesity. Research has linked long periods of sitting to an increased risk of death from heart disease and some cancers, as well as to a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Prolonged sitting, even if working, can cause you to feel more fatigued than a vigorous workout. If you are restless at work because of prolonged sitting, you may be less productive overall.
Movement Strategies while at Work
A helpful solution? MOVE! Currently, while working from an alternate work location, I am using a large box to elevate my computer so that I can stand while working. Simply standing has allowed me to stretch more often, walk in place, and has eased my restlessness and fatigue as I work.
Increase movement at work:
• Stand or walk while talking on the phone
• Ask your employer for a “standing” desk or improvise with a high table, large box, crate, or other item to elevate your workstation
• Schedule a 5- or 10-minute walk once per hour (you will be more productive, making those 5 minutes away from your workstation a valuable time investment)
• Do not eat lunch at your desk
• Save 10 minutes of your lunch break for a brisk walk
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• Develop a habit of standing and stretching once per hour
• For those one-on-one meetings with co-workers, ask them to take a walk with you instead of sitting at a desk or conference table (great conversations may happen as energy begins to flow from physical movement)
• Set a goal to move more; write down your plan for increasing movement in your calendar
Health Benefits of Moving
Physical movement will help you burn more calories, improve muscle tone, improve your mood, and increase your energy level. It has even been linked to better sleep! The U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services provides these recommended physical activity guidelines for adults: 150 minutes of activity per week that is moderate in intensity OR 75 minutes of physical activity per week that is considered vigorous. Move more for a happier, healthier life!
Long-term health benefits of physical activity include:
• Weight control
• Lower risk of heart disease
• Lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes & some cancers
• Better physical functioning such as improved ability to complete tasks
• Stronger bones and muscles
• Reduced anxiety and depression
• Improved sleep
When feelings of restlessness and irritability threaten to derail your productivity ~ take a break! But, do not just take a “break,” take a hike around the building, jog in place, do a few stretches, but most of all, get out of your chair! Make it your goal to sit less and to stand and move more!