Stand Up! and Other Easy Ways to Lengthen Your Life

By Jenna Goudreau

A typical day in the life of the average American worker looks something like this: After hours of (hopefully) restful inertia, she rises to greet the day, embarks on a seated half-hour commute to work, and sits in a front of a computer for the next eight hours. Usually she takes the elevator. Most days she eats lunch at her desk. Another seated commute returns her home, to the sofa, where she relaxes in front of the television before calling it a day.

"Our society has become so sedentary that we sit all day long," says physical therapist Chris Keating, the director of Strive Physical Therapy in Marlton, N.J. "We're not active in most jobs. Sitting too much can cause back and neck pain and a slowed metabolic rate. You burn fewer calories, and a higher BMI increases your risk for a host of other health issues."

In Pictures: Eight Easy Tips To Move More At Work

Do you need to move more at work?Do you need to move more at work? Study after study shows that chronic inactivity is a serious health risk. Even those who exercise regularly nearly negate the effort by sitting for hours afterward. One new Australian report estimates that every hour of TV-watching cuts 22 minutes off your lifespan, costing men 1.8 years and women 1.5 years of their lives.

"Less than half of the population gets the recommended daily activity," says Deb Plitt, a fitness instructor and master trainer at Life Fitness Academy in Chicago, Ill. "Occupations are becoming more sedentary, average adults spend 90% of their leisure time sitting, and now one in three Americans are obese."

With a third of your day spent at work, making a few simple changes to your office routine may make all the difference. Health and wellness experts offer easy ways to force yourself up, out of that desk chair and into a longer, healthier life.

Work Standing Up


"For someone who is healthy, an hour should be your maximum limit for sitting idle," says Keating. Although the economy has lengthened the work day and caused many professionals to take on more work, Keating suggests rethinking the way you work. Consider investing in a standing or treadmill desk that positions the monitor high enough that you can work standing up. If that's too extreme, try standing when you make phone calls or check your voice mail, or sit on a stability ball to improve your posture and engage your core muscles. "Variability is key," he says. Standing all day has its own set of problems, but if you're up, down and moving around you'll get your blood flowing and burn more calories.

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Drink Lots Of Water

Frequently refilling your water bottle during the day offers several benefits. "So many people are dehydrated and don't even know it," says Keating. Having at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day keeps you hydrated, boosts your metabolism, increases your energy and helps you avoid sugary drinks and overeating. In one weight-loss study, participants who drank two cups of water before eating shed an average five pounds more fat than those who did not. Plus, you'll be back and forth between your desk, the water cooler and the bathroom-keeping you on your feet all day.

Use A Printer Across The Floor

Another way to force yourself to move more throughout the day is to connect your computer to a printer on the other side of the office, says Sejal Shah, M.D., medical director of Medi Weight-Loss Clinics based in Tampa, Fla. Every time you need a document, you'll have to get up and go fetch it. And if you really want to get moving, she recommends using a machine on a different floor.

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Walking around the office is a great way to improve your interoffice relationships.Walking around the office is a great way to improve your interoffice relationships. Knock On Doors

"It's a great idea to walk around and improve your interoffice relationships," advises Keating. Why send an email or instant message to a colleague who's just down the hall? Get up and knock on doors when you have a question or idea. You'll get to know your coworkers better and be more persuasive in person. "If you get up off your butt, you'll probably be healthier and closer to a promotion," he says.

Take The Stairs

If you work in a multilevel building, Shah recommends always taking the stairs instead of the elevator, which burns about 100 calories for every 20 minutes. "You don't have to do it all at one time," she says. "Spread it out during the day." Those who are on a top floor of a high-rise should get on and off the elevator a few stops early, and then take the stairs the rest of the way.

Get Out For Lunch

"No one's taking a lunch break anymore because they're all trying to prove they work longer and harder," says Plitt. However, she suggests you use whatever time you have for a mid-day break. Go out and grab a salad from a nearby deli. If you make your lunch, take just 15 minutes and do a lap around the building or the block. "Get a buddy system going with someone you work with," she adds. Then you'll have more fun and more incentive to make it part of your routine. For an added benefit, eat a light lunch and keep healthy snacks in the work kitchen. Then you'll have yet another excuse to get up at different times of the day.

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Set A Reminder

If technology has made us sedentary, perhaps it can also wake us up. Keating suggests setting an alert in your calendar or on your mobile phone that will remind you every hour to sit up straight, stand up, stretch or walk around. Changing positions increases circulation and also freshens up the mind. Taking short breaks will help you focus more intently.

Suggest A Walking Meeting

Rather than shuffling from one chair to the next, suggest a meeting that will wake up the team. "Have your meetings standing or do a brain-storming session while you walk around the park," advises Plitt. With tablets, laptops and smartphones, there's no reason meetings can't be mobile. "More and more studies support this. Anything you and your supervisors can do to get up and get moving aids prevention."

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