While many employees at the MGH are on their feet during their entire shift, a large number sit behind a desk for hours on end. Research has shown that sitting for extended periods may not only negatively affect health but also may prematurely shorten lifespan.
MGH neurologist Marie Pasinski, MD, tackled this growing problem in a July 27 Huffington Post article, offering five ways for individuals with desk jobs to incorporate more activity into their workday.
“While regular exercise is still important for good health, prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health that is often ignored,” Pasinski says in the article. “Your metabolism is continuously attuned to your level of physical activity. Prolonged sitting raises blood glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels, all of which promote inflammation and wreak havoc throughout your body.”
Pasinski said promising studies show people can improve their metabolism by interrupting prolonged bouts of sitting with brief periods of activity, which can lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Here are her five tips to increase activity:
- Stand up to chat it up Instead of sitting at a desk, stand up during telephone calls – spending more time standing can jumpstart metabolism. Remember that maintaining good posture helps strengthen the body’s core muscles and also promotes self-confidence and positive thinking. For more of a challenge, pace back and forth or take a stroll around the room.
- Pretend the elevator is out of order Stairs are the best piece of workout equipment a workplace has to offer. For an added benefit, take the stairs two at a time.
- Who needs the gym when you have a wall? Don’t have time to go to the gym during lunch, but still want to add a little tone to your muscles? Try doing sets of wall-sits and wall pushups between meetings.
- Go out for lunch Studies show spending time outdoors is associated with improved mental well-being, increased energy and decreased tension and depression. The idea is to spend less time behind your desk and more time in new surroundings.
- Add ankle weights to your wardrobe Get a workout at work by wearing ankle weights beneath work pants, or strap them around your wrists.
Read more articles from the 8/10/12 Hotline issue.