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Workplace Healthcare: Stop Sitting and Start Walking to Improve Your Health

Workplace Healthcare: Stop Sitting and Start Walking to Improve Your Health

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By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Career Tips

Many office workers sit for hours, concentrating on getting work done and not taking a break to walk around. However, this sedentary practice can have its hazards. Prolonged sitting leads to multiple health issues, including:

  • Cramped or strained leg muscles
  • Swelling and blood clots in the lower legs
  • Fatigue in the back and neck muscles
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Spinal compression

In addition, the Mayo Clinic notes that there are additional health risks from too much sitting. These risks include:

  • Obesity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease and cancer

Different Methods of Adding Walking and Other Exercise to Your Workday

Even if you have multiple work and family responsibilities and feel you have no time to exercise during the workday, there are multiple ways to alleviate the physical stress that prolonged sitting puts on your body. These methods include:

  • Making sure to get up from your desk at least once an hour
  • Walking to a colleague’s desk or during brainstorming-style meetings
  • Standing and stretching as you’re talking on your office phone
  • Using a standing desk (or a sufficiently high countertop if you work from home)
  • Doing stretches that involve your arms, legs, neck and shoulders
  • Taking the long way to the kitchen or restroom (take advantage of any long hallways and stairs in your building)
  • Going for a lunchtime or after-work walk with coworkers

Benefits of Workplace Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you walk at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. If your schedule is packed, consider dividing that walking into 15 minutes in the morning or at lunchtime, then 15 minutes after work.

If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, the AHA suggests at least 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, three or four times per week.

Getting regular exercise helps you sleep better, improves your circulation and overall health, reduces stress, and decreases strain on muscles and veins. Also, devoting work time to physical activity can even lead to higher productivity, according to a 2011 study by Swedish researchers.

Dr. Samer Koutoubi, Director of the Public Health program at American Public University says, “Lifestyle modification, including eating healthy, exercise and stress reduction, helps us to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Working out at work does not require sophisticated equipment. Taking the time to walk, stretching and taking the stairs are very effective in stress reduction, and you can integrate it in your daily work activities.”

With some creativity, there are ways to get walking or other forms of exercise into your workday. So get moving!