A sedentary lifestyle, one in which you get little to no regular exercise, is known to be very bad for your health. Yet with more and more people working online remotely or in offices, the health problems associated with sitting too much are becoming a worldwide pandemic. Only a fraction of jobs are physically active. Outside of work, many of our activities for relaxing involve the same levels of sedate inactivity, such as watching TV or browsing the internet. What are the risks, and how can people who work online realistically combat the long term negative health effects?
Health Problems Associated With Sedentary Lifestyle
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes moderate exercise like brisk walking, or 75 minutes vigorous exercise like running per week to maintain good health. But really this seems a little slim. If possible, it would be beneficial to do as much as possible, perhaps aiming for closer to one hour per day.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 4 people globally don’t get enough exercise, and the problem is getting much worse in younger generations. Other research suggests that only 5% of people perform 30 minutes of exercise per day. Reflect for a moment on how much you do; is it enough?
Sitting for long periods, in particular, can lead to health issues even if you exercise regularly. Spinal problems can ensue, as well as a decrease in bone density and skeletal muscle mass. Sitting can cause lower back pains, which can become severe and incapacitating. Americans sit for an average of 11 hours per day. Not good!
A lack of psychical exercise has thus become the 4th leading risk for global mortality. Health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle include cardiovascular and heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and early death. Research has also shown a link between a sedentary lifestyle and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
It’s clear that a lack of physical exercise, in particular sitting down all day, is a true cause for concern. If you work online, you may have no choice but to be at a desk for long periods. How, then, can you be sure to keep your good health?
Handy Health Tips
If you work online, either remotely or in an office environment, you will have to take even more care to make sure you get the exercise that you deserve and need for good health. This will take a slow and steady approach to integrate enjoyable physical activity into your everyday life. Here are a few handy health tips for combating a sedentary lifestyle:
It’s clear that the main health problem here is a lack of exercise, and so the essential remedy is to take more time for regular exercise in your daily routine. Combine activities such as running and cycling with gentle strolls, and if you want you could segment them into manageable 30 minute slots. Ultimately, whatever exercise you take and whenever you take it has to fit into your own lifestyle, so that it is sustainable for you.
If you sit at a desk for hours every day, be sure to get up every 30 minutes or so to have a stretch, stand up for a few minutes, and to take a small walk if possible. Serious poker players, like anyone who works online, spend many hours per day at work. To combat this, it’s recommended they take regular breaks to work on posture, and partake in occasional yoga exercises to keep the body functioning. Take this advice and stretch ‘till your spine feels just right.
If you work online, then ergonomics are important. At the minimum, this should mean a comfortable and supportive chair. Consider a standing desk to work on at least some of the time. Even better is a treadmill or bike desk, so you can get the exercise in and avoid stagnation during work hours.
Walking is a highly recommended form of exercise. It’s recommended that you walk 5 miles (10,000 steps) a day if possible. This is a great way to get the physical activity that you need. Walking in particular also helps with the back problems associated with sitting, as well as being known to alleviate depression.
Sitting down and working online all day brings its own challenges, especially if you work from home. Be sure to keep on top of the mental aspects by making time for yourself and setting personal boundaries so that you are not always working. Be sure to eat right, socialise and enjoy other aspects of life to achieve the balance that brings health and happiness.
You may not always have an hour to take a long walk, so focus on the little things to improve the amount of physical activity you do. Walk to work, or to the shops, or anywhere within walking distance that you need to go. Take the stairs. Choose physically demanding hobbies outside of work, such as gardening or karate or tennis. Get the little things right, and you’re half way there.