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Is your desk job killing you? The real dangers of sitting for long periods of time.

Is your desk job killing you? The real dangers of sitting for long periods of time. 

It was a sunny Wednesday morning as I scanned the sea of cubicles at my office. Lumpy coworkers shuffled to vending machines to retrieve nutritionally barron snacks like floundering seals catching fish…only fish are super healthy and bullshit cardboard vending machine snacks are not. Someone brought in glycemic sugar grenades disguised as donuts. How they got past security I’ll never know. People scurried to get the good ones first in a possible attempt to raise their hypertension and BMI even further, as if to taunt the limits of health and sanity in one blow. Barbara from accounts receivable, pulled a hamstring and later complained of being out of breath after tying to beat Bob from accounting to the bear claw table. I tried to make myself small in my generically corporate patterned cubicle, knowing that an impending sugar crash was about to envelope most of the office in a predictable mood swing, leaving scattered adults in it’s wake whining like toddlers in need of a nap. This is the unfortunate premature death sentence that is life working as a cubicle jockey in corporate america.

Ok, I may be over dramatizing (ever so slightly) to prove a point, and that point is that sitting on your ass while your brain may or may not be working is not how human beings were designed to live. It’s not healthy, it’s not right, and dam it I’m not going to take it anymore! What’s that? Keep my voice down? People are trying to work? Sorry about that. I tend to get a little carried away sometimes.

I guess that the truth is that at some point we’ve all gotta do what we’ve gotta to do to get to the next phase of our financial lives. That doesn’t mean your body has to age like a K9 (7 years for every 1. See what I did there? It’s got layers.) though. So with that in mind here is your survival kit until you get paroled from the corporate prison that is working in a 6×6 joyless cubicle of sedentary capitalism. Personally I’ve been planning a prison escape for some time now. Don’t tell anybody though. I’ve paid off the right guards, the tunnels have been dug; I even have a deal with an inmate in the workshop to get me a life raft for the big day. I just have to preserve my mortal coil until then, and you do too. I’ll be honest, you’re not going to like some of these options but here they are just the same.

1) Can you volunteer for job roles that require/allow you to walk more? Does you’re department have a rover or someone who delivers things, talks to people in person, or otherwise just walks occasionally? Could that person be you with a little positioning.

2) Can you order a walking/stand up desk? You know all those muscles that aren’t engaged when you’re sitting on your butt? They’re the ones that engage when you’re standing to keep you standing. A stand up desk can help to make them feel less neglected.

3) Can you get off your ass and stretch during the day(I just do the runners stretch at my cube. Most people can’t even tell I’m doing it which cuts down on answering questions)? Your muscles shorten and tighten from sitting. Specifically, you’re hip flexors and your lower back muscles, which is likely why you have low back pain; the short muscles work together to tilt your pelvis until it put pressure on your lower spinal vertebrae.

4) Can you exercise before, after, or during work? Can that exercise be one, both, or a combination of 6&7 below? Yes I’m talking about at lunch. Yes I said at lunch! Why must I repeat myself.

5) Can you stop eating Halloween candy and liquefied birthday cakes from starbucks, like it’s a meal just because someone brought it into the office?

6) Exercise (cardio).

7) Strengthen your muscles (Weights and such)

8) Diet and Nutrition (Vegetables and protein). Now that you’ve taken out the bad elements with step 5, can you add in nutrients, minerals, vitamines, and stuff that your body can actually use to support your health?

9) Straighten your spine  (Lordosis and Kyphosis are the official terms for a bent desk spine). Number 3 will help with this but for bad cases you may want to find a good chiropractor to test out.

 

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6 comments

  1. I always am walking around the office building. When I was in Qatar for work my office had a dart board even. That got me and much of the other guys up and playing every few hours. Got a few tournaments in too. I guess it also helped that the bathrooms were in a completely different building, so always taking the walk as it was so hot you had to continuously be drinking water.

    The thing for me is that I hate working out. I would MUCH rather do physical activities towards an actual project. For example, instead of running I would rather hoe a garden. Something like that.

    • That sounds like a fun office to work in. Walking is something that is so natural for humans to do for long periods of time but is becoming a thing of the past since we sit for almost every daily activity now. I like your concept of doing physical activities toward and actual project. Sometime you can really overlap them into being a great “workout”. For example, two weekends ago, I got some free gravel off of offerup.com and spend all day shoveling, dead lifting, squatting, or otherwise moving heavy objects. By the end of it, I not only had a workout that my body kept reminding me was more than “sufficient”, but my yard looked much better, and my sense of frugality was in great shape as well. It felt like a much more dynamic experience than just driving to the gym to simulate and stimulate many of the same muscles.

  2. I recently got a standing desk and I love it. I am able to stand when I feel like it and sit when I get tired so I’m still building my stamina. Although I will say that I workout twice a day and chase after a one year when I get home so I’m tired most of the time. Great post!!!

    • Thanks Mustard Seed Money. I recently saw that a person at my work was using one. I think I’m going to look into it as well. Seems to make a lot of sense. Thanks for the tip! Chasing those toddlers can be exhausting lol. I don’t know where they get all of the energy:).

  3. Mr.Need2Save bought me a standup desk for Christmas in 2015. So I’ve been using it for over a year now at work. I admit that some days I don’t use the stand up feature at all, but when I’m thoughtful about it, I try to stand atleast half the time that I’m stuck working from my desk. It helps to do calf raises and walk around a little when I’m on the phone too.

    My son (who is almost 19 now) is so opposed to getting ‘stuck behind a desk’ for the rest of his life that he is considering a number of career paths that involve pretty manual labor. It seems to suit him more for this time in his life and he doesn’t mind the hard physical work.

    I appreciated your ‘liquefied birthday cakes from starbucks’ comment the most. This has never been a problem for me, but many coworkers are truly addicted to that stuff!

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I like your formula of stand half of the time and sit half of the time. Even if it doesn’t happen every day, at least you’re giving your body more opportunities to be in a standing position and lengthen and engage the muscles involved. I love your idea of doing calf raises. I think I’m definitely getting one in the near future. Dare I say, I could even add in the occasional body weight squat set and some knee raises to get the blood flowing better. Thanks for the great tip!

      When you look at the sugar content of some coffees and then weigh it against the complete lack of vitamins, minerals, and nutrition, it definitely seems to fit the liquefied birthday cake description.

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